The Black River Chapbook Competition Winner

Ten More Things About Us

Publication Date: September 2023


Spring 2022 Black River Chapbook Competition Winner

“There’s no such thing as society,” Margaret Thatcher famously—and cruelly—proclaimed. “There are individual men and women and there are families.” Through three stories in Ten More Things About Us, Nancy Welch illuminates the consequences of this philosophy-writ-policy in the very particular lives of women who labor to care for family as devastating illness frays familial ties and tests social consciousness.

EXCERPT from “Pretty”–

If Trudy had scooped the keys from Karl’s hand, if she had trilled, “How about I drive this time,” or if she had snapped, “You’ve got no business behind the wheel, you should know that by now,” they would have been stopped at that light, Trudy fiddling with the vents as the mist crept up the windshield and Karl bleating at the morning news. They might not have even noticed the ancient station wagon emerge from the thick valley fog, its parking beams dim yellow, the scrape of dragging muffler smothered by thick air. Certainly they would not have sailed onto Route 7, Trudy crying, “Red! Red! Red means stop!”, foot pumping madly at a brake that wasn’t there.

But Trudy had been looking for the grade book she’d failed to return to her satchel the night before, along with the pink sheet that would tell her which neurologist Karl was to see this morning and where. By the time she’d laid her hands on the latter, Karl was shuffling toward the garage. A thousand frustrations lay with the day before him: the too hot sweater he can’t wriggle out of, so it winds up bunched and binding his shoulders for the entire afternoon until Trudy gets home from school; the ringing phones whose callers hang up before he can find the word “Hello?” Even his feet are an upset, unresponsive as stones. Once he got himself moving so purposefully, Trudy didn’t have the heart to stop him. In both hands he’d clutched the keys like a prize.

“I know!” Karl shouts. His foot comes down heavy on the brake, bringing their Toyota to a citizenly halt very nearly in the middle of Route 7. “You think I don’t know what a red light means?” Trudy is reaching for the wheel, scrambling out of her seatbelt, no time to explain, with love and patience as the neurology nurses advise, that the light now lies behind them.


I just finished reading Nancy Welch’s brilliant TEN MORE THINGS ABOUT US. I’m writing from a hole in my heart because she’s managed, through impeccable handing of detail, to remind me of life as it is, not the lucky life we sometimes live on the border of catastrophe. I love the way the stories overlap, points of view shifting, names and circumstances changing. Yet the stories resist the magnetism of chapters to stand alone, each one nudging us into recognition. Nancy Welch has written a powerful book.

Hilda Raz, author of Letter from a Place I’ve Never Been: New and Collected Poems

In this astute and moving collection, Nancy Welch shines a light on caregiving as both a personal and cultural act. Welch’s portraits of families navigating illness and frailty are intimate, tender, and a pleasure to read, but her skill at gesturing to abiding social questions makes this trio of stories impossible to forget. Fans of Claire Keegan, Edna O’Brien, and Elizabeth Strout, here’s another author to cherish.

Maria Hummel, author of Still Lives and Lesson in Red

In Ten More Things About Us, like a highly skilled lapidarist, Nancy Welch guides us through illness and wellness. We meet people, broken and whole, as they navigate the multiple meanings of care, and also un-care. As one mother learns to let go of a home full of history, another demands that her daughter bring her meals. This book, like life, is held together by women’s unpaid labor–by teachers and nurses, by family, both kin and made. And because Nancy Welch makes legible such labor with such extraordinary compassion, as a reader, I found myself, like Trudy, “practicing at being in no hurry.”

Tithi Bhattacharya, co-author of Feminism for the 99%

About the Author

© Michael Cole

Nancy Welch

Nancy Welch’s short stories have appeared in Ploughshares, Prairie Schooner, North American Review, and elsewhere with citations in Best American Short Stories, Best American Nonrequired Reading, O. Henry, and Pushcart. Her debut collection, The Road from Prosperity, was published by Southern Methodist University Press. Her political essays on caretaking labor and higher education have appeared in Spectre, Tempest, International Socialist Review, and other journals. Professor of English Emerita at the University of Vermont, she lives in Hanover, New Hampshire, where she has returned to horseback riding after a forty-year hiatus and is embracing her identities as a writer and barn rat.  

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