The Long Fire
Her father stalks her with his spare key. Her ex diagnoses her every decision. Her mother is dead but haunting her by voicemail and she can’t stop snacking from the junk drawer. This is Natalie Krupin’s life even before it gets weird.
Debilitated by family dysfunction, and traumatized by recent tragedy, Natalie is propelled through life by pica, a disorder that has her eating a wide variety of inedibles—from pencil shavings to foam peanuts to plastic doll parts. A lowly staff worker for the local news, she follows the inane demands of the station’s senile weatherman and comes home to an empty apartment, where she experiments in unusual décor and tries not to think about her recent breakup.
But Natalie’s past stalks her at every turn. When a cryptic voicemail implicates her mother’s gypsy roots in her untimely death, Natalie begins to consider the demons that consumed her mother and drove her brother to run away long ago. With increasing suspicion, she traces her mother’s mysterious family legacy back to the Roma Gypsy neighborhood she left behind so many years ago—and uncovers secrets nobody wants exposed, with consequences that may very well be deadly.
With a wary Gypsy community tracking her every move, Natalie resolves to confront the dysfunctional and tragic figure at the heart of the mystery: the dead matriarch herself. Smart, elegiac writing, and a page-turning drive, make this a wonderful literary thriller with a hero as intriguing as the mystery.
Praise for The Long Fire
"Equal parts funny, bizarre, and emotionally resonant, Meghan Tifft's beautifully written and wholly original debut novel tells the wild tale of a woman who will put anything in her mouth. I devoured it."
—Seth Greenland, author of SHINING CITY and I REGRET EVERYTHING
"THE LONG FIRE's protagonist fills her body with paper and plastic while grasping for solidity and structure after the disintegration of her family. Tifft explores the brutality of blood relationships with feeling, precision, and wonderfully textured prose."
—Steph Cha, author of the Juniper Song Mysteries
"THE LONG FIRE is a beautifully written meditation on who we really are and where we come from. Part mystery, part family drama, Meghan Tifft’s novel is filled with stunning hypnotic prose and a cast of highly original, quirky characters I will not soon forget."
—Jillian Cantor, author of MARGOT
"Curious, grim, electric, shadowy, mesmerizing—all words that describe THE LONG FIRE. Natalie is the strangest and most compelling unwilling detective that I’ve come across in a long time."
—Jill Kelly, author of WHEN YOUR MOTHER DOESN'T and FOG OF DEAD SOULS
"Meghan Tifft's auspicious first novel is gripping and beautifully written, both whimsical and wrenching. 'It reminded me of a book I ate once,' the protagonist says of her parents' lives. THE LONG FIRE will remind you of nothing else."
—Laurence Klavan, author of THE FAMILY UNIT AND OTHER FANTASIES
"A debut novel about a strangely appealing heroine whose lonely search for understanding plunges her into the dark weirdness of her family history...an unusual, strikingly written novel about a young woman’s desire for understanding and love and how that longing remains familiar in even the most eccentric of circumstances."
"A solid debut effort that won’t leave a bad taste in your mouth."
—Heather Scott Partington, Las Vegas Weekly
"Natalie is an engaging, unforgettable character, courageous in confronting the uncertainties of her life, wry and compassionate. Like so many novels in which characters embark on a quest, they are really searching for and most likely to find themselves. This is a literary mystery, not bound by the typical mystery/thriller conventions and, paradoxically, therefore, more revealing."
—Victoria Weisfeld, Crime Fiction Lover