Characters You’ll Love and Hate

Bestselling author of the novels The Boat Runner and Tiny Americans, Bradley English professor Devin Murphy, released his third book, Unbend the River in January. The collection of short stories are geographically linked along a forested stretch of land between Lake Erie and the upper Allegheny River in Western New York where Murphy grew up. “I wanted to write an honest love letter to the place by looking at it from as many perspectives as possible.”

The characters’ stories converge around their work at a modern knife manufacturing plant, illustrating the ways love and longing shapeshift over the course of a long life. Murphy said the book is a compilation of stories he’s written over the years that had a natural connection either by place, recurring characters or themes.

“It got to a point where I had a critical mass of stories I thought I could tie together, so one character is the star of their story but also pops up to influence people in the other stories. It took a lot of weaving and plotting but was so much fun,” he said.

Although he’s undoubtedly a highly-successful published author, Murphy conceded that it doesn’t come easy, saying he struggles to get stories out. “Writing these stories was an extreme exercise in empathy for others and actively seeking out beauty in daily life. The goal was to transfer those feelings to the reader.”

by Emily Potts

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