Small Wonder

Published Date: November 26, 2017


In this second novel of Gladys Swan’s The Carnival Quintet, Curran—the small wonder of the title, at four feet one inch—receives a troubling letter from Elise, a woman he had adored long ago. Although he hadn’t heard from her in years, he is compelled to find and protect her. And thereby an adventure begins with a long trip to a carnival near a ruined city in Mexico, encountering a seductress and a wealthy bandit along the way. His real quest turns out to be finding Elise’s strange son and bringing him back through a forbidding landscape while avoiding treacherous rivals. Despite his diminutive size, Curran is a wonder.

About the Author

Gladys Swan has published three novels, Carnival for the Gods, (Vintage Contemporaries Series), Ghost Dance: A Play of Voices, (LSU Press, nominated for the PEN/Faulkner Award), and A Dark Gamble, as well as seven collections of short fiction. Her poetry and essays, and short stories have appeared in many literary magazines and anthologies. Much of her work is set in New Mexico, where she grew up. Though she has spent most of her career as a writer, she has devoted much of her time during the last two decades to painting and exploring the creative process. She was the first writer since the inception of the Vermont Studio Center to receive a fellowship for a residency in painting. She also received a fellowship from the Lilly Endowment for a year’s study of Inuit art and mythology and a Fulbright Award as a writer-in-residence in Yugoslavia. Her paintings have appeared as the cover art for various literary magazines and books, including the most recently published, The Tiger’s Eye: New & Selected Stories. She has twice been a Guest Writer at the Vermont Studio Center and has held residencies at Yaddo, the Chateau de Lavigny in Switzerland. the Fimdacion Valparaiso in Spain and others. She has taught literature and creative writing at various colleges and universities, notably, in the MFA Program at the Vermont College of the Arts and at the University of Missouri-Columbia. She received an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Western New Mexico University and gave the commencement address. The Carnival Quintet, an outgrowth of her first novel, is being published by Serving House Books. The first volume, Carnival for the Gods, appeared in September, 2014. She has done the cover paintings for the series.

Praise for Carnival of the Gods

“Gladys Swan has written a tough-talking, free-wheeling, high-flying study of ideas . . . ‘an inquiry into the nature of the peculiar.’ With a fine irony, Carnival for the Gods places us front-row-center at the greatest show on earth: ourselves.”

—Kelly Cherry, author of In the Wink of an Eye and The Lost Traveler’s Dream

Carnival for the Gods is a book of holy and unholy struggle, but it’s not a struggle to read. Swan controls action, meditation, and an impressive number of memorable minor characters that entice the reader to follow the carnival through the exquisitely-drawn desert landscapes.”

Prairie Schooner

Carnival for the Gods is an artful, curious book, adventuresome and compelling.”

Chicago Tribune

“. . . an enchantment worth the price of admission.”

The New York Times, Charles Johnson, author of Middle Passage and Dreamer

“Much of the beauty of Gladys Swan’s fiction inheres in her skill at balancing earthiness with cosmic vision.”

Sewanee Review, Thomas E. Kennedy, author of In the Company of Angels





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