The inaugural issue of an annual anthology: rural stories by writers of color who hail from and write about those rural or semi-rural spaces. Info about the contributors and how to order a copy can be found at EastOver Press.

If you’re an educator interested in using the anthology for your class, please contact




A gritty, emotionally sensitive clutch of stories.
Kirkus Reviews

The Middlewesterners in Keith Lesmeister’s charming collection We Could’ve Been Happy Here share more in common with Ethan and Joel Coen’s Fargo than any of Willa Cather’s stalwart pioneers. But these characters and their stories are perfectly authentic, hilarious, and offbeat. This collection is the genuine article.

Nickolas Butler, author of Shotgun Lovesongs and The Hearts of Men

The deceptively quiet stories in Keith Lesmeister’s We Could’ve Been Happy Here lay bare the inner lives of deceptively ordinary people in the deceptively normative state of Iowa. Like a heartland Chekhov, Lesmeister artfully refuses to tell us how things turned out—did that slacker stay sober? did that nice middle-aged couple who robbed a bank on a lark ever get caught? Instead, he reveals how things are in his characters’ souls: often strange and dark, yet not without hope and love.

David Gates, author of Preston Falls and A Hand Reached Down to Guide Me

These are brutal stories—brutally good, brutally urgent, brutally hopeful. In this extraordinary collection, Keith Lesmeister has granted his lucky readers a rare and stirring look into the soul of the middle west. His prose is as clean as the prairie wind, his characters as dangerous and refreshing as summer storms. We Could’ve Been Happy Here is a real achievement, a book that won’t let you go and you’re all the better for it.

Bret Anthony Johnston, author of Remember Me Like This and Corpus Christi: Stories

There’s a tricky playfulness to Keith Lesmeister’s fiction. His characters are painfully flawed — but their goodness always shines through. And his humor lights up the page —  but it’s so often a trapdoor to the sadness that unifies these stories. We Could’ve Been Happy Here is a lovely heartache of a collection.

–Benjamin Percy, author of The Dead Lands, Red Moon, Thrill Me, The Wilding and Refresh, Refresh

Once in a great while, you pick something up, and its great, subtle beauty hits you slowly and hard like the wave of an ocean. That’s the case for We Could’ve Been Happy Here, except the ocean is in Iowa. I’ve lived in the world that Lesmeister is showing us for over a decade, and the people who inhabit this collection are strange and sad and unique, and deeply familiar; I hurt for them. Collections like this only come around once in a while.

Erika T. Wurth, author of Crazy Horse’s Girlfriend

Available at Dragonfly Books