Synopses & Reviews
In this dazzling premier collection, Leni Zumas shines a bright light into the far corners of a dark, dreamlike America populated by a cast of characters on the brink of survival. With the Gothic style of Flannery O'Connor, the urgent lyricism of Jayne Anne Phillips, and the quirky humor of Sam Lipsyte and George Saunders, Zumas blends a lyrical, poetic voice with remarkably original storytelling.
A teenage boy finds his blind mother making a pass at his new best friend; a lonely woman works in a pillow factory by day and at night tends to a menagerie of sick animals; an aspiring witch is disillusioned by her spiritual shortcomings; a girl from a town so small it doesn't exist on any map runs away with a rock band. The odds stacked against them, these lovingly rendered outsiders find redemption in the unlikeliest of circumstances.
Zumas so skillfully intertwines the utterly fantastic with the absolutely believable that the reader has no choice but to follow in fascination and wonder. Even the most surreal moments take on a surprising familiarity, and the bleakest moments are imbued with unexpected hope. To become engrossed in Zumas's world is a strange and beautiful delight.
"Zumas gives socially awkward, mysteriously gifted and self-destructive outcasts spellbinding, unflinching voice in her debut collection. The heroes in this collection are trapped; some are resigned to years of caregiving, many are institutionalized and nearly all haunt the fringes of normalcy (or disregard the normal altogether). Each story begins with a lightning strike into a new consciousness: the first flashes of a romance over the lunch line in a psych ward in 'Waste No Time if This Method Fails'; a teenager in the title story dreaming of abandoning his blind parents; the young woman of 'The Everything Hater' living in sustained dread after her brother's repeated suicide attempts. There are triumphs, too: a patient in treatment for an eating disorder exacts revenge on a bully, and an underage groupie liberates herself from her punk lover's fabricated fairy tale world. Zumas captures halfway-house heartbreak as well as moments of thoughtful, scab-picking solitude. It's a powerful, irresistible collection. (June)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Attention unrequited lovers, sisters of suicidal brothers, children of the legally blind: you are not alone. Leni Zumas understands your quiet agony and describes it with such a wry, unflinching familiarity that even the gory details ring true. If darkness has ever been your friend, your story is in here." Miranda July
"Leni Zumas's writing is fearless and swift, sassy and sensational." Joy Williams
"I have never read stories like these before and I can't get them out of my head. Her language is real sorcery it dismantles the world you think you know and takes you to strange, fecund territories of the imagination. Sentence by sentence, Zumas creates worlds so vivid and fever-bright that you forget you're reading words on a page and begin to see real plums, scars, black stars lashed to the bottom of canoes. Her characters are girls and boys in bad trouble, who feel as close to you and as far from you as the black sheep in your own family." Karen Russell, author of St. Lucy's Home for Girls Raised by Wolves
"In the same way that Sonic Youth mucked with obscure guitar tunings and still found a way into pop music, Zumas has a knack for telling stories with a familiar ring in a surpassingly strange manner." Mark Athitakis, Washington City Paper
"You may find [these stories] funny...but there's also a very good chance they will unzip you, unsettle you....Synapses snap, crackle and pop while you're reading this strange collection." Susan Salter Reynolds, LA Times
In this dazzling premier collection of short stories, Zumas shines a bright light into the far corners of a dark, dreamlike America populated by a cast of characters on the brink of survival.
About the Author
Leni Zumas's fiction has recently appeared in Open City, Quarterly West, and New Orleans Review. She is a winner of the AWP Intro Journals Award for Short Fiction. A graduate of the University of Massachusetts-Amherst MFA program, she teaches writing at Hunter College and plays drums in the Brooklyn post-punk band S-S-S-Spectres
Table of Contents
Farewell navigator -- Dragons may be the way forward -- The everything hater -- Heart sockets -- How he was a wicked son -- Thieves and mapmakers -- Waste no time if this method fails -- Handfasting -- Blotilla takes the cake -- Leopard arms.