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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Lucky Alan: And Other Stories by Jonathan Lethem

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Fishy Splishy Wishy Hup Huzzoo!

Jonathan Lethem can write. No doubt fans of his impressive body of work (Dissident Gardens, Motherless Brooklyn, and Chronic City to name but a few) are already well aware of this fact. It doesn’t really come as a surprise to me either, but damn, I’d forgotten just how well he excels at this process. How flawlessly crafted each and every single one of his sentences can feel. How imaginative and inventive he can be. He’s not just stringing together words to tell you a story, instead, like a master craftsman, it seems as though he’s meticulously arranging combinations of words until they appear in the exact order necessary to drive home his intended point. He paints pretty pictures of the messy landscapes that are life, and in Lucky Alan: And Other Stories, he delivers nine new ingenious tales for us to gaze at and reflect upon in wonder. 

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Thunderstruck by Elizabeth McCracken

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The soul is liquid, and slow to evaporate.  The body’s a bucket and liable to slosh.

A 2014 National Book Award finalist, Thunderstruck has certainly earned its place among competing titles.  Comprised of 9 short stories, Elizabeth McCracken’s collection is nothing short of haunting – and I’m not just saying that because we’re getting close to Halloween.  These unforgettable tales are mesmerizing and devastating as McCracken explores aspects of love, grief, family, death, companionship and loneliness.

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Probably, Most Likely by Julian R Vaca

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Don’t fall back, / for it’s your greatest sorrow

At just 50 pages, Julian R Vaca’s upcoming publication is a slim but satisfying assortment of literary treats.  Short stories nestled between poems and other vignettes, Probably, Most Likely is a patchwork of literary formats and styles, but the inconsistency is perfectly mirrored by each narrator’s insecurities and tender observations.  It may seem a bit random and unpolished, but to me, that’s what make literary collections even more interesting.  Vignettes like these harbor a place for writers to explore a much wider array of themes and forms – and it’s often raw, experimental, and surprisingly poignant.

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One More Thing by B.J. Novak

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Stories and Other Stories

Whether you realize it or not, you’re probably already a fan of B.J. Novak.  Between his stand-up comedy, screenwriting, directing, and acting, Novak has had his hands in a variety of Hollywood comedy pies.  One More Thing represents his long-awaited debut into the world of fiction writing, and yet another title to add to his growing resume.  And if that doesn’t make you feel unproductive and inadequate enough already, just remember that Novak is only 34 years old.  Damn…

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