In a small city of the new American South, we find an unexpected world of haves and have nots, families and outsiders, old hatreds and first loves that unfold in eight imaginatively rendered stories. As these characters rush into circumstances where everything changes, we watch them make bad choices for good reasons, or good choices for bad reasons – with aftershocks that ripple through the lives of everyone around them.
Stark and funny, brutal and tender, Ludwick’s stories are rooted in hope, in human kindness, and an ability to find beauty everywhere. Originally the inspiration for an award-winning design collaboration, The First Time She Fell emerges on its own as an ambitious debut collection that is, in the words of one character, “as beautiful as the world is sharp as the world is sweet.”
Visit the publisher's site, at CRPress.org.
Read the third story in the collection: Patete
The First Time She Fell debuted as a collaborative art project — a collection of short stories written by Caleb Ludwick, and visually interpreted by eight graphic designers: Nick DuPey, Beth Joseph, Michael Hendrix, Ben Horner, Roby Isaac, Mandy Lamb Meredith, Joseph Shipp, and Liz Tapp.
Made possible by a grant from the Lyndhurst Foundation, it was recognized as a “Most Creative Project in the Southeast” by PRINT magazine.
In 2013, the eight stories in the book were picked up and published by C&R Press, with a revised cover by Paul Rustand.
“Ludwick’s stories don’t feel limited by an author’s hand, but open to change and consequence and the whims of the universe. In other words, they feel real. And in their plumbing the depths of the human soul – the child’s soul, the priest’s, the criminal’s – they remind us that ‘at heart, anyone is capable of anything.’ The First Time She Fell is surefooted and quietly sublime.”
“Poignant meditations on the economic, religious and ethnic diversity that is the New South… even at their most brutal, these stories deliver beauty and promise through Ludwick’s sharp yet graceful prose and keen compassion for his characters.”
– Sybil Baker, author of Into this World
"Evocative of a place of which most Northerners are unaware, Ludwick's turf isn't the South, or the New South, but the New New South. As ethnically diverse as the Lower East Side, a landscape in which new arrivals from Mexico or Pakistan strive to find their place alongside the last heirs of the plantocracy and flat-out crackers. But these stories could be set anywhere, and they'd be every bit as damn good. In this luminous collection, Ludwick captures these New New Americans' struggle with sharp perception, dark humor, and the deepest humanity."
Terence Hawkins, Founding Director, Yale Writers’ Conference; author of American Neolithic
For the past decade, Caleb Ludwick has worked as a Senior Brand Writer with design agencies around the country, serving clients in the US, UK, Europe, and Central America. His writing has been honored by the American Institute of Graphic Arts, New York Type Director's Club, One Show, PRINT, School of Southern Literature, Yale Writers Conference, the Lyndhurst Foundation, and with permanent inclusion in the Smithsonian Institution's National Design Museum.
He has served as an Adjunct Professor in the University of Tennessee system and a Professor at Covenant College. He was nominated for and attended the 2013 Yale Writers' Workshops, and is a Tennessee Williams Scholar at the 2015 Sewanee Writers' Conference.
He holds a Masters in Literature from the University of Nottingham, UK and l'Université d'Orléans, France. Ludwick lives with his wife and their three daughters in the mountains of East Tennessee.
See his day-job website at 26tools.com.