Seventy Percent Water by Jeanette Sheppard

A flash fiction collection.
Someone or something is missing from their lives.

This collection of thirty-one stories explores familial, social and romantic relationships through a sense of who or what is absent. Several of the stories evoke the theme through magical realism — the title story about a woman who tracks down her ex-lover in a hospital corridor takes a fantastical turn of events impossible to see coming (Han Clark, Lunate Fiction); a woman who accidentally buys trumpet arms on the internet seeks to understand what has gone from her relationship when her human arms are replaced; a young girl struggles with her brother’s lack of love until a buzz begins in her ear; in the opening story, collective fear takes over an ancient village when a missing woodcutter returns physically transformed into a giant creature. Other stories are firmly anchored in the every day — a daughter challenges a doctor’s lack of compassion as she conveys powerful images of her mother before she fell ill; a woman with Alzheimer’s asserts her sense of self; a child longs for her jelly-making Dad; a mother, whose adult children have left home, confronts the absence of self-belief when she decides to take up drawing; after the death of her father, a photo on Twitter causes a daughter to reflect on the gender bias in her childhood.

The collection is made up of a range of small forms, including hermit crab flash, one breathless paragraph, prose poem, micro-fiction told in a handful of sentences, and fragmented flash — some spanning a lifetime. Whatever the focus, form, or voice, Sheppard’s stories are rich in image and emotional resonance (Kathy Fish, author of Wild Life: Collected Works from 2003-2018)

Seventy Percent Water depicts with startling sensibility the way that beloved persons may disappear – sometimes bit by bit. The collection is dazzling in its clever use of language, beautiful imagery, wry humour, and deep understanding of humanity and feeling.
Sophie van Llewyn, author of Bottled Goods

In thirty-one tiny stories, none more than two pages long, Jeanette Sheppard offers us the vast worlds of her imagination. She gathers everyday moments like kindling and deftly sparks them into flame, creating heat and magic. These stories move with the fluidity of dreams, rich in image and emotional resonance. A highly original debut, Seventy Percent Water is not to be missed.
Kathy Fish, author of Wild Life: Collected Works from 2003-2018

Exploring the intricacies of connection and loss, Seventy Percent Water is a psychologically astute collection that invites you to step inside multiple lives while reflecting on your own. Each image is carved with care using language that dances to form a moving, insightful journey.
Stephanie Hutton, author of Three Sisters of Stone

Jeanette Sheppard writes convincingly about relationships – familial, romantic, social – and what happens when these human connections rupture. Her stories are moving, her prose surprising. I love this collection.
Damhnait Monaghan, author of The Neverlands

In Seventy Percent Water, Jeanette Sheppard writes with deep sensitivity and powerful imagery. Her empathy and humour shine through, resulting in a debut collection that is highly memorable.
Diane Simmons, author of Finding a Way

Front cover artwork by Jeanette Sheppard