Here is How it Happens


Inertia is a force, a powerful force, but it’s not the only one.  Courtney and Martin know all the words to all the songs on the mix tape of their lives.  They have the cynical in-jokes down, the snide asides, the nonchalant pose.  But beneath the practiced façade of self-satisfying ennui, these kids are staring down their futures, struggling in soured relationships with lovers and families, and finding out just what it takes to break out, if it’s even possible.  Here is How it Happens

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Dew captures the “violent ambivalence” of young people fearing their future, doubting their potential, and, as Martin describes, stylizing their “still-developing artifice”. His prose is simultaneously urgent and hesitant as his characters are desperate for connection but also terrified of what looms ahead.”

Publishers Weekly

Ampersand Books
"Spencer Dew writes like a quiet maniac who sees the violence under the façade of everyday things, and the beauty under the violence. With X-ray vision and fine-tuned prose, Dew discovers insights and absurdities in the Americana of box stores, elite colleges, poetry students, buffet restaurants, historic plaques, alternative radio, conspiracy theorists, installation artists, and lug-headed drug experimentalists. Here is How it Happens explores the place where the heartland meets the rust belt meets the precarious bubble of academia, and finds redemption in the purity of longing and the shit coffee of an Amish country diner."
Ampersand Books
"The romantic dysfunction that fills this book is as stomach-turning as it is riveting. Only Spencer Dew could unfold a story of the slurred mess that is college life with such precision."
Ampersand Books
"A novel that is far from self-satisfied, it moves the reader without mercy."
Ampersand Books
"But Dew is not a coward: he, like his protagonist, Martin, is a circumspect hunter out to bullseye the target on the dummy-deer in the Walmart sports-supply department, proving that it rests directly over an empty place that should contain a heart."
Ampersand Books
"Dew perfectly captures the desperation of his characters to stay true to their ideal selves even as they realize that they’re all doomed to become echoes of their parents."

Autumn descends on Northern Ohio.

Here is how it happens:

With the sky split into layers of fiery late-afternoon light and clouds like lava over the hills, the melodrama of nature consumes the landscape.

The valleys beyond us blaze in amber and gold, a scene identical to the postcards in the rack by the cash register, ten cents apiece, three for a quarter.

There is a glint against the glass of the restaurant window, white light on fingerprints and greasy smears, a dried trail of ketchup.

But you are unfazed.

You squint toward the sun, the fringe along your jacket’s arms slapping as you pack your cigarettes against your palm.

You say, “Anesthesia.”

And you sigh, as if this were the last thing, sinking your reserves into a single act, to convey meaning through breath alone.

But isn’t it kind of early to start worrying about something like that,” I say. “I mean, she just conceived, right?”

That’s what I’m saying, kiddo. This early on and already talk of surgical removal, c-section, whatever the butchers call it. Cesarean.

There’s risk involved. I know how it is. People don’t come back, or they come back changed.”

You drag the candle over to your side of the booth, hold back your hair as you lean over the red glass dome and light your cigarette.