Synopses & Reviews
A farmer perishing under a fallen tractor makes a last stab at philosophizing: “There was nothing dead that was ever beautiful.” It is a sentiment belied not only by the strange beauty in his story but also in the rough lives and deaths, small and large, that fill these haunting tales. Pulp-fiction grim and gritty but with the rhythm and resonance of classic folklore, these stories take place in a world of shadowy figures and childhood fears, in a countryside peopled by witches and skinflints, by men and women mercilessly unforgiving of one anothers trespasses, and in nights prowled by wolves and scrutinized by an “agonized and lamenting” moon. Ervin D. Krauses characters pontificate in saloons, condemning the morals of others as they slowly get sloshed; they have affairs in old cars on winter nights; they traffic in gossip, terrorize their neighbors, steal, hunt, and spy.
This collection includes award-winning stories like “The Snake” and “The Quick and the Dead” as well as the previously unpublished “Anniversary,” which stirred a national controversy when it was censored by the University of Nebraska and barred from appearing in Prairie Schooner. Krauses portrayal of the matter-of-fact cruelty and hopeful fragility of humanity is a critical addition to the canon of twentieth-century American literature.
Now We Will Be Happy is a prize-winning collection of stories about Afro-Puerto Ricans, U.S.-mainland-born Puerto Ricans, and displaced native Puerto Ricans who are living between spaces while attempting to navigate the unique culture that defines Puerto Rican identity. Amina Gautiers characters deal with the difficulties of bicultural identities in a world that wants them to choose only one.
The characters in Now We Will Be Happy are as unpredictable as they are human. A teenage boy leaves home in search of the mother he hasnt seen since childhood; a granddaughter is sent across the ocean to broker peace between her relatives; a widow seeks to die by hurricane; a married woman takes a bathtub voyage with her lover; a proprietress who is the glue that binds her neighborhood cannot hold on to her own son; a displaced wife develops a strange addiction to candles.
Crossing boundaries of comfort, culture, language, race, and tradition in unexpected ways, these characters struggle valiantly and doggedly to reconcile their fantasies of happiness with the realities of their existence.
In writing both rich and evocative, Pamela Carter Joern conjures the small plains town of Reach, Nebraska, where residents are stuck tight in the tension between loneliness and the risks of relationships.
With insight, wry humor, and deep compassion, Joern renders a cast of recurring characters engaged in battles public and private, epic and mundane: a husband and wife find themselves the center of a local scandal; a widow yearns for companionship, but on her own terms; a father and son struggle with their broken relationship; a man longs for escape from a communitys limited view of love; a boys misguided attempt to protect his brother results in a senseless tragedy. In the town of Reach, where there is hope and hardship, connections may happen in surprising ways or lie achingly beyond grasp.
Dystopian fantasy, political parable, morality tale—however one reads it, this novel is first and foremost pure Ana María Shua, a work of fiction like no other and a dark pleasure to read. Shua, an Argentinian writer widely celebrated throughout Latin America, frames her complex drama in deceptively simple, straightforward prose. The story takes place at a fat farm called The Reeds, a nightmare world that might not exist but certainly could. The last resort of the overweight wealthy (or sponsored), The Reeds subjects its “campers” to extreme measures—particularly the regimented system of public humiliation imposed by its director, a glib and sharp-minded sadist called the Professor.
Into the midst of this methodical madness comes Marina Rubin, who experiences all the excesses of The Reeds. The pervasive cruelty of this refined novel distances it from facile conclusions. Amid the mordant social satire, The Reeds obese campers are far more than merely victims of the system, subjected to impossible social demands for physical perfection. Out of control, fierce, rebellious, or subjugated, they are recognizable human beings, contending with an unjust but efficient authority in their unique and solitary ways.
Early July, and the corn in eastern Nebraska stands ten feet tall; after a near-decade of drought, it seems too good to be true, and everyone is watching the sky for trouble. For the Grebels, whose plots of organic crops trace a modest patchwork among the vast fields of soybeans and corn, trouble arrives from a different quarter in the form of Elsas voice on her estranged sons answering machine: “Your fathers dead. Youll probably want to come home.”
When a tractor accident fells the patriarch of this Mennonite family, the threads holding them together are suddenly drawn taut, singing with the tensions of a lifetimes worth of love and faith, betrayal and shame. Through the competing voices of those gathered for Haven Grebels funeral, acts of loyalty and failures, long-suppressed resentments and a tragic secret are brought to light, expressing a larger, complex truth.
From one of the most original French writers of our day comes a mysterious, prismatic, and at times profoundly sad reflection on humanity in its darker moments—one of which may very well be our own. In a collection of fictions that blur distinctions between dreaming and waking reality, Lutz Bassmann sets off a series of echoes—the “entrevoutes” that conduct us from one world to another in a journey as viscerally powerful as it is intellectually heady. While humanity seems to be fading around them, the members of a shadowy organization are doing their inadequate best to assist those experiencing their last moments. From a soldier-monk exorcising what seem to be spirits (but are they?) from an abandoned house, to a spy executing a mission whose meaning eludes him, to characters exploring cells, wandering through ruins, confronting political dissent and persecution, encountering—perhaps—the spirits once exorcised, these stories conduct us through a world at once ambiguous and sharply observed. This remarkable work, in Jordan Stumps superb translation, offers readers a thrilling entry into Bassmanns numinous world.
About the Author
Lutz Bassmann belongs to a community of imaginary authors invented, championed, and literarily realized by Antoine Volodine, a French writer of Slavic origins born in 1950. Volodines many celebrated, category-defying works include the award-winning Minor Angels (Nebraska, 2004), which blends science fiction, Tibetan myth, a ludic approach to writing, and a profound humanistic idealism. Jordan Stump is a professor of French at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. He is the author of The Other Book (Nebraska, 2011), has translated numerous texts, including Minor Angels, and was awarded the French-American Foundations translation prize and the Prix Médicis in 2014.