Winner of the Prairie Schooner Book Prize in Fiction
Synopses & Reviews
Just down the highway from Connecticuts Gold Coast is the states rusty underbelly, the wretched, used-up sort of place where you might find Xhenet Alius Domesticated Wild Things: the reluctant mothers, delinquent dads, and not-quite-feral children, yet dreamers all. These are the children of immigrants who found boarded-up brass mills instead of the gilded streets of America; theyre the teenaged girls raised in the fluorescent glow of Greek diners, the middle-aged men with pump trucks and teratomas. These are people who have fled, or who should have. And if they are indeed familiar, it is because Aliu writes what is real, whether we ourselves, her readers, have seen it up close or not. And her stories make sense in a way that matters.
A young mother buys into a real-estate investment seminar offered on an infomercial, only to be put back into her place by a bully in foreclosure. A closeted wrestler befriends a latchkey seven-year-old neighbor who harbors secrets of her own. A YMCA counselor tries to reclaim shoes stolen by a troubled young camper.
What they share is a biting humor, an eye for the absurd, and fumbling attempts at human connection, all rendered irresistible—and as moving as they are amusing—by a writer whose work is at once edgy and endearing and prize winning for reasons any reader can appreciate.
"Finger's unabashedly bold tales creatively reimagine outcasts real and invented." Leah Strauss, Booklist
"Call Me Ahab showcases a plethora of historical and literary characters....a cheering section for the forgotten and under-appreciated and a testament to creativity, whimsy, and intellect." Eleanor J. Bader, Feminist Review
"Finger's stories are full of small moments of chance, of alternate routes and reactions that end up making all the difference, as if to suggest the minute contingencies of birth or history that result in a missing leg or sightless eyes.... By placing recognizable historical and fictional characters in contemporary guises and poses, Finger reminds us of the enduring presence of atypical bodies." Alyssa Pelish, Rain Taxi (read the entire )
Imagine a Hollywood encounter between Helen Keller and Frida Kahlo, two female icons of disability. Or the story of Moby Dick, or, The Leg, told from Ahab's perspective. What if Vincent Van Gogh resided in a twentieth-century New York hotel, surviving on food stamps and direct communications with God? Or if the dwarf pictured in a seventeenth-century painting by Velazquez should tell her story? And, finally, imagine the encounter between David and Goliath from the Philistine's point of view.
These are the characters who people history and myth as counterpoints to the normal. And they are also the characters who populate Anne Finger's remarkable short stories. Affecting but never sentimental, ironic but never cynical, these wonderfully rich and comic tales reimagine life beyond the margins of normality.
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.
About the Author
Anne Finger has taught creative writing at Wayne State University in Detroit and at the University of Texas at Austin. She is the author of several books, including Bone Truth: A Novel; Basic Skills: A Short Story Collection; and the memoir Elegy for a Disease: A Personal and Cultural History of Polio.