Dana Cann was born in Santa Barbara, California, and raised in the Maryland suburbs of Washington, DC, where he currently lives with his wife and their two teenage children. His short stories have been published in The Sun, The Massachusetts Review, The Gettysburg Review, Fifth Wednesday Journal, The Florida Review, and Blackbird, among other journals. He’s received fellowships from the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts and the Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation. Cann earned his M.A. in Writing from Johns Hopkins University. He works in corporate restructuring and finance, and teaches fiction workshops at The Writer’s Center in Bethesda, Maryland.
These characters, their highs and lows, the ebbs and flows and eddies of their lives, and the literal and figurative hauntings that afflict them — it all feels so real. Gil Ferko and his wife, Mary Beth, are still recovering, several years later, from the death of their infant daughter. Cann does such a remarkable job of conveying the precariousness with which they are both tiptoeing away from their numbness towards a more real engagement with their loss and with the world that keeps moving on. Mary Beth develops a daily ritual with a little girl who we eventually learn is a ghost, and finding out what happened to the girl helps to bring Mary Beth out of her fog. Ferko’s job feels humdrum, so when he meets a couple of old acquaintances from high school, he is ripe to be moved by their influence, grateful for a downward spiral instead of indifferent inertia. His friend Jen is haunted and precarious too, and she reminds me of a gritty, lost 20- or 30-something from Laurie Weeks’s Zipper Mouth. I think what Dana Cann has succeeded most in is creating characters that feel real and interesting and who eschew tired tropes while weaving their stories together in a really compelling way. And like Emily St. John Mandel’s early fiction, Ghosts of Bergen County has intrigue and uncertainty that keep the pages turning, but it is also has amazing sentences and is firmly grounded in the literary.
—Emily Pullen, WORD Bookstore
Ghosts of Bergen County is addictive! Once I picked the book up I was unable to put it down. Within moments you care about the characters and what is going to happen to them on every page. The story is haunting, yet filled with real life struggles in our society. The ending blew me away and made me want to read the book all over again because I didn’t want the story to end. Cann is definitely an author to watch in the future.
—David Logan, Bookends