There Is No Other Way to Worship Them is an eerie, mesmerizing collection of short stories set in Mexico and Texas. Each of the collection’s nine stories are woven together with themes of violence, mysticism and failures in the pursuit of love. Characters and landscapes slip from one story to the next, teasing readers with a sense of magical realism mastered by Snoek-Brown.
Teaser preview of “It Was the Only Way,” one of the stories from There Is No Other Way to Worship Them, courtesy of Blue Cactus Press.
Sam Snoek-Brown’s collection has a range and scope that belies its short length—from 19th century Mexico to present-day suburbia. These stories plunge deep into the hearts of a diverse cast of characters, laying bare their surprising and uncanny secret lives.
Dan Chaon, author of Ill Will
I have always believed that Sam Snoek-Brown is something of a literary lyricist: a craftsman capable of marrying magic and music to words. There Is No Other Way to Worship Them is a testament to that talent and a paean to the intersection of culture and community. Serving as a welcome antidote to headlines trumpeting distance and division, this collection of stories champions human connection and celebrates the breaching of borders both literal and psychological. It thrums with a clear-eyed compassion that does the soul good.
Ellen Urbani, author of Landfall
Rich, spirited, warm, and filled with the intimate detail, Snoek-Brown’s stories are the kind that invite you inside, sit you down, and ask you to stay a while. And you will; you won’t be able to look away.
Amber Sparks, author of The Unfinished World: And Other Stories
Samuel Snoek-Brown’s There Is No Other Way to Worship Them is fundamentally a book about borders, about solid red lines, and how they’re crossed in subtle, shocking, remarkable ways. The people here are hurting and vulnerable, but above all, they’re brave, even when—especially when—crossing their own physical, moral, or emotional red lines. That this book is about borders surely makes it important, given the current state of things. That Snoek-Brown writes with such compassion about our capacity for love and trouble makes this book beautiful. There Is No Other Way to Worship Them celebrates humanity. I don’t know what higher praise I can give.
John Carr Walker, author of Repairable Men
A vivid and heartfelt homage to people who are ‘slow to be accepted’ and thus caught in the between spaces—journeying, hungering, and longing to arrive, to matter, to be loved.
— Ethel Rohan, author of The Weight of Him
No one has written better about submission to inevitability as an act of courage than Sam Snoek-Brown. In this collection of elegant, graceful, sad, beautiful stories, big predicaments roll out like the tide, sweeping along characters who understand that resistance and redemption are better pondered than enacted, that freedom is the freedom to stay afloat. Whether depicting the past or the recognizable present, this books depicts our impasse: idealism tempered by regret or a clear-eyed sense of repercussion. These luminous stories continually deliver a turn of events or a turn of phrase that makes us reconsider what it means to be human. A fine collection.
Debra Monroe, author of A Wild, Cold State and My Unsentimental Education
Samuel Snoek-Brown allows you into the intimacies of others’ lives with their open figurative and literal wounds. Ordinary people, common opportunities, conventional choices, familiar failures, but there is nothing everyday about these characters who become your friends, your family, those who live on your street, shop at the same store, eat at the same restaurant. The author guides you as you flesh out their past from your own experience. In time they move away but you will stay in touch, imagining where they are now and what they are doing.
There is no Other Way to Worship Them is a remarkable achievement introducing us to characters we will remember with a shake of the head at their past and a hope for the best as we imagine their future.
Robert Flynn, author of Living with the Hyenas and Echoes of Glory
Sam Snoek-Brown is one of those under-the-radar writers who deserve more attention. [. . .] What are these stories about? They have about them an air of magic realism, but as so often with Snoek-Brown’s work, what may be supposed to be magical turns out to be phantom, and there is always something that is hard and real, against which the characters are brought up short. They always have a sense of wonder in both senses – awe and bewilderment – often in the face of something very basic and banal. In every case memory of what was, and what has been lost, is forced through one hundred and eighty degrees to face what is to come.
Paul Thompson, of Taxonomy Domine
These stories and their characters are so detailed, so alive, that you find yourself feeling like you’re staring at them instead of reading about them. It’s almost a sense of voyeurism or eavesdropping your experiencing. From major life decisions to everyday minutiae, the characters fictional lives feel real to a degree and depth that most writers can’t communicate. Most of the stories are Texas/Mexico based, and range from a war fought before your grandparents’ birth to the present day. There is humor, there is dense drama, there is often suspense, twisting around each other. Good or bad, the people feel real, and you find yourself caring for them. Sometimes…. when maybe you shouldn’t.
Robert Shane Will, of Last Will and Testament
Announcement of the new book
Background on the stories in the collection
Also by Samuel Snoek-Brown
Where There Is Ruin, a fiction chapbook
Hagridden, a novel
Box Cutters, a fiction chapbook