In Gone to Pieces an entire family’s lives are consumed by a single story: a tall tale about a forest fire and the horses who fled into a lake of ice to escape the flames. Everything they do, everything they watch, and everything they speak about revolves around the story of that fire and those horses and their father’s deep belief that it is real.
Curzi grew up feeling both resentful and beholden to her father’s story. Something that causes her to flee her family when she is young, but also, upon learning that her father is on his deathbed, makes her determined to wade through the tale just as he would have wanted.
But Gone to Pieces is a story about more than just this one thing: it’s about the habits we form, the complexities of family, and the complicated histories that we escape and revisit. The story spans decades and continents — from Curzi’s father’s birthplace in Italy to the butcher-shop-filled Chicago of her childhood, on to her estranged brother’s home in Stockholm and the Russian Lake Lagoda with its fabled story of the “ice horses” from Italian writer, Curzio Malaparte’s 1944 novel, Kaputt.
Benjamin Fidler teaches at Northern Michigan University in Marquette, near the shores of Lake Superior, but is often dreaming of the warmer places where reality slips away. His novella, Gone to Pieces, won the 2021 3-Day Novel competition.