We Imagined It Was Rain
Hailed by ZZ Packer as “a master of tone, detail, and imagery”, Andrew Siegrist’s debut collection We Imagined It Was Rain is a love song to Tennessee.
One of the Millions Most Anticipated Books of October
Hailed by ZZ Packer as “a master of tone, detail, and imagery”, Andrew Siegrist’s debut collection We Imagined It Was Rain is a love song to Tennessee. These loosely connected stories are imbued with tenderness, seriousness, and a deep understanding of the human spirit. A young man moves to the mountains and builds an heirloom chest in the wake of his son’s death; a town official must make the decision to execute a circus elephant; two siblings help their father commit suicide; a preacher picks up the pieces of his ruined church, and his marriage, after a devastating flood; locals share stories of the girl with eyelashes so long she can braid them. Siegrist demonstrates careful attention to the smallest moments, to the rain on a windowpane, to individual mementos passed down through generations, in this far-reaching and thoughtful collection.
We Imagined It Was Rain is the winner of our 2020 C. Michael Curtis Short Story Book Prize.
Praise for We Imagined It Was Rain
"There is a strange sense of almost antediluvian time operating in this atmospheric collection, and intriguing hints at lives influenced more by myth than by history.... Siegrist’s South is edging closer to diluvian dream time, where the floods of the past and the floods of the future are the same torrent because, as he writes, 'every drop of water on earth has been here since the beginning of time.'" —The New York Times Book Review
"Following in the lineage of Southern writers like Flannery O’Connor and William Faulkner, Siegrist depicts characters both graceful and grotesque, often with a capacity for both when faced with stark hardships. Outsiders on the fringe of society, as well as community leaders such as pastors, all entwine in this gorgeous ecosystem of contemporary Southern life." —Chapter16
"Set primarily in Tennessee, the stories in Siegrist’s debut story collection explores mundane and life-altering moments with beauty, tenderness, and reverence."—The Millions
"Thanks to Siegrist’s masterful prose, we don’t have to imagine the rain. We can feel a warm summer drizzle, an oncoming storm, a flood." —Gage Saylor, Barrelhouse
"Siegrist's atmospheric, fluid, and merciful prose proves irresistible.Moody and bittersweet: Save it for a literal rainy day and read in one sitting."—Kirkus Reviews
"In his debut collection of loosely connected stories set mostly in Tennessee, some of which draw on local folklore, Siegrist shows a remarkable ability to evoke the missing pieces in his characters’ lives. With their universal themes, Siegrist’s folkloric stories have plenty of appeal."—Publishers Weekly
“Reading We Imagined It Was Rain is like entering a dream journal—every sense is heightened and stretched, every memory expanded and reassembled in the hopes of deciphering the past or surviving the present. This collection reminds me of the very best writers of contemporary rural stories: Jesmyn Ward, Bobbie Ann Mason, and Wendell Berry. A keen eye for the truths of the human condition—as well as a mastery of tone, detail, and imagery—make this writer one to watch.” —Z.Z. Packer, author of Drinking Coffee Elsewhere
“The stories in this book haunt the heart like ghosts. Siegrist’s eye for detail is so keen and surprising it feels visionary. Though set in contemporary times, these are the oldest types of tales, of men and women, of loss and love, almost ancient in their humanity yet made bright for us again in the dark Tennessee woods. We Imagined It Was Rain does not read like a new debut in Southern Literature but rather as Southern Literature’s new debut. Mark it down. Our children will be reading Andrew Siegrist, longing for beauty in some future world, well after we’re gone. Mystic and Earthbound, searching and wise; this book is brilliant.” —M.O. Walsh, New York Times bestselling author of My Sunshine Away and The Big Door Prize
“Essential stories from a terrific new voice. I read these eagerly and wanted more. I feel the ghostly breeze of William Gay here, but Siegrist is a big enough writer to blow past any forebear and carve his own path. Just amazing.” —Tom Franklin, New York Times Bestselling author of The Tilted World
“Andrew Siegrist's collection of stories is a deeply moving and spellbinding look at the human condition, Tennessee, and the heartbreak of daily life. His stories move toward depth and beauty, never flinching. There is a quiet power in every detail Siegrist draws attention to, and I knew I was in the hands of a brilliant writer who writes honestly, tenderly. This is a gorgeous debut full of heart and power.” —Genevieve Hudson, author of Boys of Alabama
“With We Imagined It Was Rain, Andrew Siegrist establishes himself as a magician on the page. The stories in this collection transport its readers to the deep woods of Tennessee, where hearts are broken, where grief is fierce, and where humanity unequivocally abounds. From fireflies to baby snakes to a red lipstick kiss on the center of a forehead, Siegrist is a storyteller for whom nuance and detail still matter. This is a beautiful debut.” —Hannah Pittard, author of Visible Empire
“There’s much to be dazzled by in We Imagined It was Rain—the startling images, the lean and lucid prose—but what I admire most is that Andrew Siegrist understands, more deeply than any young writer I’ve read in a long time, that the world remains a mysterious place, its magic grounded in the everyday dreamscapes of love and longing and loss. Somehow, Siegrist has conjured up the feel of magical realism without resorting to trickery or relying on the fantastic, and that, fellow readers, is a feat worthy of our very best attention.” —Michael Knight, author of Eveningland
“These stories radiate with beauty and truth. The stories' scenes and characters are so vivid, I felt myself holding my breath while reading. Siegrist's imagery and details are first-rate; when you read these, you know you are in the hands of a talented, genuine storyteller.” —Olivia Clare, author of Disasters in the First World: Stories