SUNY Potsdam prof publishing new novella 'Colleen's Count'
POTSDAM -- In Dr. Rick Henry's latest novella set in a fictional upstate New York town, Colleen O'Shea sits in the park, assigned to count the vehicles driving through a rural town in 1933. Her count is interrupted by friends, secrets and an unplanned pregnancy.
The book reveals that O'Shea, a woman in her thirties, is debating abortion. Her husband has abandoned her with two children and she has a son out of wedlock. The bank will not hire her, because "women can't count.""Colleen gets it, the bias and the hypocrisy. This is partly why she's pretty cavalier about miscounting," says Henry, who directs the SUNY Potsdam Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) program in creative writing.
Set for release on Oct. 16 from Finishing Line Press, the press run for "Colleen's Count" will be based on preorders, a period which runs through most of August, Henry said. The book and others by the same author can be ordered on his website: https://www.rickhenry.net.
Colleen's story -- her eventual decision to have an abortion, the long recovery -- travels alongside and sometimes weaves with the settings of Henry's previous novels and story collections. Among them:
"Letters," released in 2019, follows the story of a doctor who is called from one emergency to the next until arriving in the mountains at a home for girls who are suffering a variety of complaints, all reported in daily letters home. His wife takes care of their practice and sends letters of her own. Among reports of the ordinary are extraordinary stories of babies stolen, a runaway slave, a hidden pregnancy and a fake birth.
"Lucy's Eggs," released in 2006, is a poignant collection of short stories and a novella. Winner of the Adirondack Center for Writing's Best Fiction of 2006 Award, its central character is a woman besieged by loss, but sustained by her flock of heirloom chickens and ultimately transformed by forces beyond her control.
"I love the histories. The Yankees. The Erie Canal. The literature. The land," Henry said in a news release from SUNY Potsdam. "The weather - except for 85-plus temperatures. My grandparents and families on my mother's side were from the Utica area. I spent my early childhood outside/north of Schenectady. My parents apparently took turns visiting my elementary school teachers - I had a low tolerance for BS and, apparently, the teachers didn't like the stories I told."
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