Tag Archives: story collection

The Everyday Bizzare: Zsuzsi Gartner’s ‘Better Living Through Plastic Explosives’

Zsuzsi Gartner’s new story collection, Better Living Through Plastic Explosives (Pintail, 224 pages), is a fun book in the best sense: a treasure of tears, laughs, sighs, and smiles. From her opening story, “Summer of the Flesh Eater,” to the title story that closes the collection, Gartner takes us on a creative and bizzare ride in and around British Columbia, awakening us to the marvels of the ordinary. Houses are swallowed up by the earth, recovering terrorists sweat over backyard gardens, a couple speaks the language of Swedish furniture, angels go to high school, and a group of adopted Chinese …Continue reading

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The Messiness of Love, Family, and Identity: Q&A with Lysley Tenorio

The people of Lysley Tenorio’s story collection, Monstress (Ecco), are straddlers. Most obviously, they straddle cultures. Filipino immigrants in America pine for their native land or wish, often hopelessly, to assimilate indistinguishably into the culture of their adopted home. Life in the Philippines seems just as conflicted; the West’s exported culture muscles out the endeavors of Filipinos, with the Beatles and Hollywood dominating the collective imagination there just as much as they do here. But Tenorio’s characters also seem to straddle the high and low. He imbues them with profound (but never cheaply sentimental) longings, and with refinement of feeling …Continue reading

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Living with the Inevitable: Josh Rolnick’s ‘Pulp and Paper’

In his first book of fiction, Pulp and Paper (University Of Iowa Press; 192 pages), Josh Rolnick offers a collection of eight stories dealing with those various moments of transition in our lives from which there is no return — moments that require his protagonists to confront their losses, weaknesses and failures. “Funnyboy” follows the attempts of a father to avoid confrontation and possible resolution with the teenage girl who accidentally killed his son in a car accident. Through him the reader experiences what it is like for those who refuse to move on, who refuse to cross over and …Continue reading

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Blue-Collar Living: Katherine Karlin’s Story Collection, ‘Send Me Work’

The heroines of Katherine Karlin’s first collection of short stories, Send Me Work (TriQuarterly Books/Northwestern; 159 pages), are on the verge of realizations about their unforgiving communities; that is, they are discovering the forces driving the blue-collar world around them, and, more interestingly, uncovering complex emotional truths about themselves. This is often quite funny. In “Bye-Bye, Larry,” (a Pushcart Prize winner originally published in Zyzzyva’s Spring 2005 issue), the female protagonist, a queer, soon-to-be-laid-off oil worker, muses on the differences between herself and the plant’s female manager: “it occurs to me that if I were taller, smarter, had paid more …Continue reading

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