New Ploughshares Solo: “Bad Books” by Clare Needham

bad booksWe are pleased to announce the publication of the latest in our Ploughshares Solos series: “Bad Books” by Clare Needham! The Ploughshares Solos series allows us to publish longer stories and essays–first in an affordable digital format, and then in our annual Ploughshares Solos Omnibus Series. For more information and some great reading material, check out our previously published Solos, or the Ploughshares Solos Omnibus Volume 2.

About “Bad Books”

Sofia is in a rut. Her dissertation work is stalled, and her life seems to be one gray day after another. When an elderly scholar, Monsieur Charles Vinson, invites her to his house in Villeneuve-les-Avignon to spend the summer writing and cataloging his dead father’s papers, she jumps at the offer. There, she spends her days flipping through relics of the past century, burrowing deeper into the troubled history of the Vinson family. In the process, she uncovers secrets both innocuous and dangerous–and will, perhaps, find her own work worth doing.

“Bad Books” is available on for $2.99.

Here’s an excerpt from the Solo:

Here we are. The three of us. We’re happy and full; the sunlight plays in patches on our skin. My thoughts swim lazily in the heat; I don’t think past this afternoon. When I bend my hand to fix the buckle on my sandal, it seems to move more gracefully than I remember, covered in a golden skin that doesn’t seem like my own. I look at Charles and remember the first conversations we had together. He had seemed impossibly solemn and remote, a symbol and not a man. He represented Innocence Betrayed or Europe Ashamed or…I can’t think in capitals anymore. Here he is now: white polo shirt, khaki shorts cut too high to be American, brown leather loafers, even in summer. The sunlight runs around the gold rims of his glasses. I still do not know him, but I know him better: he is real. He eats lunch and dinner–I’m rarely awake for his breakfast hour–he sleeps, often and soundly–though he might have nightmares or cry out in his sleep for Catherine–he kisses his wife, he trims his fingernails and combs his thinning hair, he stirs his coffee with his finger when he thinks no one is looking.

About the Author

Clare Needham graduated from Barnard College, where she wrote “Bad Books” and received numerous recognitions for her writing, including the Howard M. Teichmann Writing Prize. Her work has been published in The New Inquiry, Armchair/Shotgun, Fiction Attic Press, and Bodega Magazine. She has been a fellow at the MacDowell Colony, and is currently an MFA student at Hunter College in New York.