Winner of the 2014 Best Book of the Year Fiction and the President’s Award from Ozarks Writers League.
Old Leroy Jackson’s passion leads him to unexpected insight when he enters a coon hunting contest and is paired with a boy and runt hound in “Last Love.” Annually, a gathering of women and girls bake “More Than Fruitcake” for the holidays and pass on a tradition that holds dear the good and weak. Lester Groh, “The Stooper,” lives along racing’s underbelly. Billman and Sissy make a choice “The Day the Snake got Killed” and learn a lesson about the ripple effect of actions. “The Fig Trees” touches the ripeness and desire of a mother and her woman friend—and her own daughter. Sarah lives in the shadow of her big sister until “The Cane Grinding” when she stares into the adult world and realizes the power of dreams. Lisa Dell’s river baptism washes away her innocence and shakes her core beliefs in the title story, “Washed in the Water.”
“Nancy Hartney’s debut collection Washed in the Water: Tales from the South is, with the exception of one story, “a gathering of women” that meanders like a slow, drunk river through the landscapes and religious and racial themes of the Old South. From lecherous preachers to lynchings to murderous backwoods bootleggers, Hartney chews on the violence and beauty inherent in communities from Georgia to Texas.” Read full review C.A. LaRue, Deep South Magazine
“. . . compelling, wide-ranging stories. Hartney brings to mind both Caldwell and Allison, but her voice at last is her own. ‘Last Love’ is both gritty and warm, and ‘The Fig Trees’ is deftly nuanced.” ~ Robert Cochran, Center for Arkansas and Regional Studies, University of Arkansas
“This brief collection of stories deals with such diverse experiences as a river baptism and coon hunting while it embraces emotions of love, jealousy, and altruism. The seven southern tales contain some real gems.” ~ Pat Carr, 2013 Porter Fund Prize author of One Page at a Time and The Radiance of Fossils
“No better voice of the south can be found than Nancy Hartney, with her touching stories of life looked at in a most extraordinary way. Hartney writes about people we can love or despise, but most of all sympathize with and enjoy.” ~ WILLA Award-winning author Velda Brotherton
“Washed in the Water is an insightful collection, and a delight to read. Hartney naturally, and precisely, captures the hardscrabble Southern voice, which made the characters, surroundings and culture so genuine, so authentic. Her descriptive style flows with the ease of honey over warm toast, painting mind images of place and personalities, while bringing life to the people struggling with their obstacles.
“I can’t say I had a favorite among the stories, for each took me down a different road of message and meaning. Though if you pushed me, I’d probably give a slight nod to “Last Love” for it had me curious from start to finish, wanting to know more and what’s next, and somehow drew to a natural close with a partial sense of justice.
“All in all, Hartney’s grasp of the writing process is firm and steady, as is her succinctness with words says far more than their numbers would suggest.” ~ David Pincus, Author of Top Dog, freelance photographer