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With digitalculturebooks, the University of Michigan Press publishes innovative work in new media studies and digital humanities. We began in 2006 as a partnership between MLibrary and the Press, taking advantage of the skills and expertise of staff throughout Michigan Publishing. Our primary goal is to be an incubator for new publishing models in the humanities and social sciences.

Settlers of Unassigned Lands

Charles McLeod
A provocative short story collection planted at fertile and futile crossroads of self and surroundings


In these seven stories spanning the Midwest to California, Charles McLeod brings us characters estranged from their homelands and locked in conflict with their past and present selves. In “How to Start Your Own Midwestern Ghost Town,” an unnamed narrator hatches a plan to capitalize on rural decay. A porn star trying to transition to the mainstream does an interview with a German reporter in “The Subject of Our First Issue Is Art.” In the title story, a closeted heroin dealer follows a ghostly girl into an Oakland graveyard. And in “Rancho Brava,” the conductor of a focus group about corporate salsa keeps getting interrupted by visitors from the Old West. Alternating between the comic, the tragic, and the neurotic—and often all three at once—McLeod’s second collection transports readers from the American mainstream to the dark edges of cities and the heartland’s lost, forgotten towns, into the lives of people trying to decipher if they can escape their pasts, and at what cost.

“Like Cortázar’s Blow-Up, McLeod’s collection is supremely innovative, prescient and cruel. I love every story in this book.”
—Jillian Weise, author of The Book of Goodbyes and The Colony

“In Settlers of Unassigned Lands, Charles McLeod upends our concept of ‘home.’ In urban and rural settings his characters drift, ramble, and float, and find sanctuary amid desolation. With poetic eye for detail, and crushingly beautiful sentences, McLeod illuminates the gray areas between safety and alienation, giving us seven uncompromising characters suspended in moments of pained glory.”
—Don Waters, author of Sunland and Desert Gothic

Praise for the author’s previous work

“The type of courage we should expect from American writers but rarely find.”
The Critical Flame

“One of those rare achievements when literature bears witness to that which would otherwise remain unacknowledged.”

Cover image:  James McLeod

Charles McLeod is the author of a novel, American Weather, and a collection of stories, National Treasures. He is the recipient of a Pushcart Prize and fellowships from the University of Virginia, the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, and San Jose State University, where he was a Steinbeck Fellow. He lives in Colorado.

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Product Details

  • 6 x 9.
  • 126pp.
Available for sale worldwide

  • Hardcover
  • 2015
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-11955-4

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  • $49.95 U.S.

  • Paper
  • 2015
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-03620-2

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  • $17.95 U.S.

  • Open Access
  • 2015
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-90018-3

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  • Fiction
    Speculative Fiction
    Alt Lit