Twos takes place in Portland, Oregon just after the turn of the twenty-first century. The book is religiously charged in an American sense, infused with fervency and imagery conjured from the country's landscape. Much of the action is set against the backdrop of the same-sex marriage controversy, and the way matrimony squirms between being a business arrangement and an unattainable melding of souls. The characters in the book routinely welcome the apocalypse, wishing its arrival. Here are three excerpts:

In which Nephi and Daniel meet

In which Amber and Beauty, two pubescent girls who have taken acid, converse in the rose garden and encounter a strange little boy

In which the missing boy's mother meets Dorina, a rightwing advice columnist who has teamed with a pair of Mormon missionaries in an ambiguous door-to-door crusade

I started writing Twos while working on my MFA at Mills College, where an earlier version of the manuscript received the Amanda Davis Fiction Thesis Prize. Last year it was shortlisted for the Big Moose Prize and a semifinalist for the Noemi Book Award. It's now in search of a publisher.

—Matt Runkle