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Review-a-Day
Esquire
Wednesday, March 28th, 2007
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Home Remedies (Harvest Original)

by Angela Pneuman

Dysfunction Junction

A review by Anya Yurchyhyn

Remember the first time you looked at your family and thought, How can I be related to these people? How about the first time you realized, "Shit, I actually have a lot in common with them?" That's the horror you'll feel when you read Angela Pneuman's debut story collection Home Remedies. Her stories are full of people with whom you'd love to have nothing in common. But you end up identifying with them with because their emotions are something you've felt before, and the awkward situations are in some way familiar. Not that you'd ever admit it.

Pneuman's tales are anchored by peculiar disaster -- pet turtles used as weapons, cucumbers employed as learning tools, kitchens converted to operating rooms. But the real tragedies are subtler. They're in the raw, everyday interactions between parents, children and friends, where aspirations, failure and need collide. Pneuman pursues the taboo and brings you to dark, ugly places. And as uncomfortable as they are, you don't really mind being there. Because though these excellent stories are not gentle, recognizing the truths in them is somewhat comforting, if not occasionally disturbing. Just like going home for Thanksgiving.


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