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Laura Leigh Morris

Now available!
PB 978-1-946684-15-8
ePub 978-1-946684-16-5
PDF 978-1-946684-17-2



In the hills of north central West Virginia, there lives a cast of characters who face all manner of problems. From the people who are incarcerated in West Virginia’s prisons, to a woman who is learning how to lose her sight with grace, to another who sorely regrets selling her land to a fracking company, Jaws of Life portrays the diverse concerns the people of this region face every day—poverty, mental illness, drug abuse, the loss of coal mines, and the rise of new extractive industries that exert their own toll.

While these larger concerns exist on the edges of their realities, these characters must still deal with quotidian difficulties: how to coexist with ex-spouses, how to care for sick family members, and how to live with friends who always seem to have more.


Brickton Boys
A Room with a Door
House of Tires
Fat Bottomed Girls
The Dance
The Tattoo
The Dollar General
Controlled Fall
Jaws of Life
May Ours Be as Happy as Yours
Photographing the Dead


Laura Leigh Morris is an assistant professor at Furman University in Greenville, South Carolina, where she teaches creative writing and literature. Before that, she spent three years as the National Endowment for the Arts/Bureau of Prisons Artist-in-Residence at Bryan Federal Prison Camp in Bryan, Texas. She’s previously published short fiction in Appalachian Heritage, the Louisville Review, the Notre Dame Review, and other journals. She is originally from north central West Virginia. This is her first book. Learn more at


“Laura Leigh Morris proves to us that stories are, indeed, everywhere. She tells them with the sharp eye and wit of a master storyteller. Superb.”
Larry Heinemann, winner of the National Book Award for Paco’s Story

“A very fine work with plenty of surprises, clever setups, satisfying payoffs, and vivid characters and mise en scene.”
Robert Gipe, author of Trampoline: An Illustrated Novel

Jaws of Life surges beyond Appalachian literature, or regional literature, straight into the heart of what matters on the universal level.”
George Singleton, author of The Half-Mammals of Dixie

“‘Look for something no one else sees,’ says one character in this fine debut, in which the people of Brickton lose many things—loved ones, their tempers, a good night’s sleep, five years of freedom—but never their power.”
Joni Tevis, author of The World Is On Fire