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In the Wine Press

In the Wine Press

Short Stories

By Joshua Hren

158 pp

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About the Book

The thirteen stories in this collection track strained lives, characters compressed by the crises of our times, from clerical misdeeds to school shootings. Among them: a father and son comet-watching from a porch they built together confront a constellation of familial abuse; a parish priest grooms a fatherless boy; a politico conquers through think tank schemes until he is defeated by his parents’ death; a spokesman for a major bank insists that a young intern died of natural causes; and a bishop’s secretary discovers a deeper obedience when asked to destroy parish records. Never settling for easy exits, these intense fictions portray a world distrustful of its former guides but populated still by souls searching and finding.


“Joshua Hren’s voice is unique . . . lyrical, searing, poetic. Each of these stories offers a biopsy of damaged lives trapped in old habits and accommodated to rebellion. His characters struggle against, or acquiesce to, the dictates of loneliness and poverty, sickness and failures—banal or catastrophic. Some are victorious over their chains, some are not; and yet, throughout, there are intimations of redemption. Hren’s pity and grief over the condition of mankind is palpable on every page.”


painter and author of The Island of the WorldSophia House, and many others

“Here we encounter a visionary imagination that does not flinch from the facts, even such facts as public school shootings, predatory priests, a mother wrestling down her delinquent son at a rock concert, and duels between aging fathers and adult sons over everything from patronizing care to religion’s influence on foreign policy. Never showcased simply to shock, each of these stories unmasks a clue to the present tense.”


Founder of the International Poetry Forum, National Book Award Finalist, and author of Just Once: New and Previous Poems and The World Within the Word: Maritain and the Poet

“In high-intensity, densely allusive and urgently anguished prose, Hren bears witness to suffering implicitly pulsing with the mystery of God’s presence. Though he leads readers past horrors difficult to contemplate, there is yet hope in his Dantean sense of commedia: wandering far from home and safety, this journey through deep darkness is one that leads towards the light.”


author of The Ghost Keeper, winner of the HarperCollins/UBC Prize for Best New Fiction

About the Author

Joshua Hren has published numerous essays and poems in such journals as First thingsAmericaCommonweal, and LOGOS. His other books include Middle-earth and the Return of the Common Good: J.R.R. Tolkien and Political Philosophy (Cascade 2018) and This Our Exile (Angelico 2018). His novel, Infinite Regress, is forthcoming.

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