Genevieve Plunkett
PREPARE HER: Stories (Catapult, 2021)

Brilliant, biting stories set in not-so bucolic Vermont, land of antique stores, small towns, fading farms, and young women trying to figure out marriage, motherhood, sex and their own power.

Prepare Her tells the stories of young women at the brink of discovering their own power. The crossroads in their lives are not always the obvious kind--divorce, motherhood, coming of age--but sometimes much more private and dramatic. Kitty discovers that her ex-boyfriend has committed a murder; Renee navigates a friendship with Arla, a Jehovah's Witness; Emi realizes that her boyfriend is fetishizing her mental illness; Petra acts recklessly when faced with a client with a gun; and Rachel must grapple with the reality of raising a daughter in a world that she, herself, is still terrified of.

Tempered by its rural and often haunting Vermont setting, this book explores the complexities of gender and power imbalances in a way that transforms normal life into something mysterious, uncharted, and sometimes bewildering. Through this lens, we can see the many subtle, yet staggering injustices endured by the women at the center of these stories, as well as identify what, or who might be responsible.

"Each of these haunting, piercing short stories shares a common language of desire: the desire to feel seen, the desire to have more than what's being offered, the desire to break free from the bonds of conventional society. In her debut collection, Genevieve Plunkett depicts the lives of women as they are really lived—with conflict and chaos, love and tenderness, and no small amount of confusion about what is supposed to come next. Each story reflects a different facet of the human condition, some glittering, some blinding, all shining a light on how impossible it can seem to figure out what it means to be alive, but also how worthwhile a pursuit it really is."—Kristin Iversen, Refinery29

"[A] nuanced debut story collection . . . With bracing honesty, Plunkett’s richly drawn narratives bring emotional depth to the characters’ struggles and internal conflicts." Booklist

"Plunkett’s striking debut puts a series of women’s interior lives in stark relief...Plunkett’s keen observations will pique readers, and the stories pay off with dividends."—Publishers Weekly

"Plunkett’s strength is in the patience and precision of her interior and exterior landscapes. Like horses, too, these stories are full of beauty and elegance but also inscrutability, with Plunkett content to braid scenes and images together and let the mystery of their relationships abide. Wistful tales rendered with delicate writing and powerful perception."—Kirkus Reviews

"Prepare Her is haunting, lush, unsettling—a brazen examination of shame, wild beauty, and the small and not-so-small cruelties we inflict upon ourselves and each other. Perfectly calibrated and teeming with style, these dark little masterpieces are full of grim brilliance. Plunkett is a rare and ferocious talent, and this is a stunning debut."—Kimberly King Parsons, author of Black Light

"Genevieve Plunkett's stories are elegant, original, and moving, with the lyrical brilliance and bite of Sylvia Plath. Her characters are painfully, magnetically human, and her prose is imaginative—an impressive tangle with the ideas of domesticity and womanhood, and a thrilling debut."—Megan Mayhew Bergman, author of Almost Famous Women and Birds of a Lesser Paradise

"The young women and girls in Prepare Her, Genevieve Plunkett's story collection, seem often to be peering at their lives as if through the wrong end of a telescope, deeply focused yet oddly distant from it. These are stories about intimacy and loneliness, and about desire, the desire these young women have to inhabit their bodies fully as sexual beings, to be seen one moment and not seen the next. Few writers capture sex as beautifully and self-consciously, as strangely and humorously, as Plunkett. Simply put, I loved these stories."—Lori Ostlund, author of After The Parade and The Bigness of the World

"Prepare Her, Genevieve Plunkett's debut story collection, is a book about finding the strength to embrace loneliness in order to search for one's squelched and buried self. Plunkett's characters do not always find the answers, but she portrays their struggle to break free from the oppressiveness of marriage and family and grief with such humor and tenderness, with such poetry, that we can believe again in the possibility of triumph over despair, of life over emptiness. This book beats with the heart of our times."—Anne Raeff, author of Winter Kept Us Warm, The Jungle Around Us, and Only the River


Genevieve Plunkett is the recipient of an O. Henry Award. Her work has also appeared in The Best Small Fictions, and journals such as New England ReviewThe Southern ReviewCrazyhorse, The Colorado Review, and Willow Springs. She lives in Vermont with her two children.