In the Cut

Michael Lockett


Life in Appalachia is like a kid standing in the center of a seesaw. It’s a fragile balance, somewhere between the old world and the new, flat-broke or getting by, rooted...

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Life in Appalachia is like a kid standing in the center of a seesaw. It’s a fragile balance, somewhere between the old world and the new, flat-broke or getting by, rooted in place or getting out. Sometimes, folks here lose footing, lean too far one way or another. If one end of the seesaw comes down hard, it knocks them right off. 

These are stories of hard-scrapped, everyday Appalachians. Think laid off miners, moms who garden and can food, gravediggers, dishwashers, Mennonite farmers, and big-box store cashiers. They inhabit hollers, rust belt towns, trailer courts, and farms. In the Cut, A teen faces a pregnancy scare as a mountaintop removal mining operation threatens her home. A twenty-something Chile’s dishwasher returns to his small town from the city to deal with his hoarder mom and her pet raccoon. A third grader destroys a schoolmate’s Lisa Frank art kit after her methed-out mom crashes into a small-town football hero’s car, and two moms come face-to-face in the checkout line at Walmart after their daughters plan to run-off to Florida and things end tragically. 

But it’s not hardship that defines these folks. Rather, it’s their dynamic nature, their resilience that spurs them to get on with life the best they can. With little resources, no easy pass, no money-bought solution, no ready way out, In the Cut will leave you somewhere between the balance and the fall.


In the Cut is a big-hearted collection set in Appalachia that explores the lives of individuals trying to get by in the best way they can. Michael Lockett skillfully portrays characters grappling with circumstances beyond their control, including a child coping with the isolation created by the actions of her meth-addicted mother, a man torn between caregiving duties and personal aspirations, and a young boy just on the cusp of understanding what his preference for playing with dolls might mean. Lockett writes beautifully, with empathy and an insider's familiarity with the region.—Geeta Kothari, Author of I Break for Moose

The immersive stories in In the Cut are filled with imagination and empathy. The range of these stories is stunning: Michael Lockett skillfully depicts the minds and hearts of characters including a woman who pushes raccoon kits around her neighborhood in a baby carriage, to a Mennonite father caring for his gravely ill daughter, to a closeted teenager wondering what might await him if he leaves his small town, to a pair of adult brothers who pick up shovels and bury their deceased father because digging graves is their family business. In these stories, Lockett grapples with what it means to be from Appalachia and brings readers into the homes and churches and schools and hospitals on this land. He shows why some characters choose to stay and why, for others, the only option is to leave. Lockett writes about neighbors and families and what bonds people together and what they hide from one other. Although the characters who inhabit Lockett’s stories struggle and may be overlooked or underestimated, In the Cut is ultimately about how they watch out for, care, love, and support their friends, families, and communities. This collection should not be missed; it’s a book with a generous, pulsing heart—Karin Lin-Greenberg, Author of Faulty Predictions, Vanished, and You Are Here.

"...In The Cut succeeds because there's a heart beating in each of these stories, and pain remains palpable. But there's also a quiet redemption that Lockett builds with the ease and grace of a writer who catches the complexity in others."—Fred Shaw, book review for Pittsburgh Quarterly


by Michael Lockett
Page Count: 136
Trim Size: 6 x 9
Publish Date: September 5, 2023
Imprint: Catamount Press
Genre: Literary / Short Stories

FICTION / Short Stories (single author)
FICTION / Small Town & Rural

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