Barrow's Point

Robert Schirmer

Winner of the Gival Press Novel Award - 2015.

Barrow’s Point is a reflection of our times. On one hand, there has been great progress with gay marriage being legalized, but sadly there are also hate crimes and people being targeted, let go from jobs, or killed because of their sexual orientation. While progress is celebrated, homophobia still lurks like a dark shadow over this country. With the swinging of the pendulum, there are extremes on both ends. Barrow's Point place in 2005, during a very specific conservative era in this country—the America of George W. Bush, a time when anti-gay sentiments and legislation was being used as political fodder. Barrow’s Point dramatizes an extreme situation that evolves out of this anti-gay environment, and (hopefully) gives it a human dimension by showing us the perspective of a mother and her gay sons as they struggle against the homophobia that has given rise, literally, to a killer of gay men.

“There’s a serial killer on the loose, and in the fishbowl setting of Robert Schirmer’s Barrow’s Point, ‘shadow selves’ of fear overtake the town’s residents. No one can be trusted. Schirmer peoples his remarkable book with characters conflicted by their own discordant passions and prejudices. The writing is sensuous, the plot unpredictable, and the upshot brilliantly captures the unease of our times.” —Ann Cummins, author of Red Ant House and Yellowcake 


“Already distinguished for his short fiction, Schirmer now has given us Barrow’s Point. Schirmer’s fans will find, in addition to well-earned suspense, a richly nuanced portrayal of the McGregor family, Iris and her three sons, whose complex, private troubles raise an eerie echo of their small town’s responses to the murders of a series of gay men.” —Elizabeth Evans, author of As Good as Dead and Carter Clay 


Barrow‘s Point is an eye-opening, engaging and emotionally touching novel. Ostensibly, it is a murder mystery: Gay men are being killed one by one in a college town in Wisconsin. A gay cop and the rest of the police force have few, if any, leads in their search for the killer. Within this frame, a complex story of family dynamics and intimate relationships emerges. There are incidents of rage, sorrow and reconciliation. We learn how gayness or straightness brings people together or, more often, pushes them apart. There are no simple answers in this story of several people who live with or close to each other, but for whom intimacy is a state that is needed but not easily achieved.” —Thaddeus Rutkowski, judge and author of Violent Outbursts


Robert Schirmer

Robert Schirmer is the author of the collection of short stories titled LIVING WITH STRANGERS (NYU Press) and the winner of the Bobst Award for Emerging Writers. His stories have appeared in a wide range of literary journals such as BYLINER, GLIMMER TRAIN, THE SEWANEE REVIEW, EPOCH, NEW ENGLAND REVIEW, FICTION, CONFRONTATION and THE BEST OF WITNESS. In addition, he has won an O. Henry Award, a Pushcart Prize, a Walter E. Dakin fellowship to the Sewanee Writers Conference, and a fellowship from the Chesterfield Film Company Writer's Film project. His screenplays have been optioned by Amblin Entertainment and Warner Brothers. He has also been a Visiting Writer at the Southwest Writers Series and at Stetson University as part of the Tim Sullivan Endowment for Writing series.