Everybody Rise by Stephanie Clifford

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You couldn’t cover up the smell of new money

At 26 years old, Evelyn Beegan is a late-blooming New York City society girl.  Raised outside of Baltimore by a self-made wealthy family, Evelyn climbed her way up the social ladder through Prep schools, Country Clubs and Ivy League acquaintances and made it to the big city.  But climbing the social ladder is a dirty business, and Evelyn soon discovers a Wharton-esque world of social responsibilities and anxieties she never could have anticipated.  From sailing etiquette and debutante balls to the art of the subtle insult, Evelyn in too deep with shallow pockets.

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How Winter Began by Joy Castro

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They’re not for sale

There’s a pull quote on both the front and back cover of Joy Castro’s new short story collection How Winter Began from American Book Award winning author Sandra Cisneros which in its entirety reads, “Joy Castro’s writing is like watching an Acapulco cliff diver. It takes my breath away every time.” Yes, but no. Cisneros isn’t wrong per se, but she has failed to adequately convey the full effect that the power of Castro’s words can have on an unsuspecting reader. Watching implies that you’re standing a safe distance away from the action. There’s nothing even remotely safe about Joy Castro’s writing. You may be emotionally harmed by these stories. You will be changed by them. That’s their purpose. That’s her gift.
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Mr Adamson by Urs Widmer

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What will happen next, only the gods know

Ghost stories are a tricky beast to get right. Ghost stories in translation, told across cultural and language divides, even more so. With the exception of perhaps The Darkest Room by Johan Theorin (translated by Marlaine Delargy) there are almost none that I can think of that I’d go out of my way to personally reread or to recommend to others. In fact I almost didn’t even bother to crack open Urs Widmer’s Mr Adamson for this very reason. What a huge mistake that would have been. Continue Reading

The Things We Don’t Do by Andres Neuman

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What we cannot see is what gets in our way

I sat with one hand on the wheel, one on Andrés Neuman’s short story collection. My eyes were locked into a vertical loop that found them darting downwards towards the book, upwards towards the road, and then furiously back down again to devour more. Trapped between cars. Trapped between realties. In one I was lost in rapture, experiencing the excruciatingly painful joys of a fictional childbirth. In the other, I was trapped in the monotonous routine I’d repeated almost daily for weeks, waiting for the twisting herd of vehicles in the car-rider line at my actual child’s school to begin moving.

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1979 by Steve Anderson

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In the small town where they lived, nothing went unnoticed

In Steve Anderson’s short story collection, adolescents of Small Town, America idly pass the time.  Some loiter, others sneak away to the woods, and some seek out mischief wherever they can find it.  There’s nothing glamorous or breathtaking about the scenery in 1979, but the characters provide sharp flashes of nostalgia for that awkward, yearning sense of self that all adolescents crave.

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