Posted Sep 23, 2016
If you don’t have enough time to commit to a long novel, try a short story!
From lipstick and pearls to book clubs and casseroles, Helen Ellis’ new collection of short stories offer fresh perspectives of domestic life and the women who inhabit that realm. Complete with twelve lively and darkly humorous stories, Ellis explores antique bargains and reality television in “Dumpster Diving with the Stars;” in “The Wainscoting Wars,” housewives embark on a bitter yet passive aggressive battle about the décor of their shared hallway; and in “What I Do All Day” a modern-day Stepford wife exults with a drawer dedicated solely to glitter. The trials and tribulations of these women are far from the stereotypical housewife, making American Housewife a breath of fresh air for stuffy, subdued domestic fiction.
Head west to the rural Wyoming/Montana border with nine stories from Callan Wink latest collection, Dog Run Moon. Featuring a cast of common, everyday characters, Wink combines empathy and humor to demonstrate empathy for the ordinary. For example, in “Breatharians,” a boy name August kills feral cats and learns why his parents live in separate houses; in “Runoff” a college dropout studying to become an EMT pursues an older woman with two children; and in “One More Last Stand,” Battle of Little Bighorn historical reenactors fall in love despite their opposing roles on the battlefield. In Dog Run Moon, Wink’s conscientious and warmth provides the opportunity to meet someone new.
The American Dream differs from person to person, and John Jodzio’s new collection of short stories, Knockout, explores the hopes and dreams of those living on the fringe of society. Featuring seventeen stories with a cast of flawed figures, Jodzio shows that anything can happen. For example, in “Knockout,” a recovering drug addict is tricked into stealing a tiger; in “The Indoor Baby,” an agoraphobic mother relents on the hardships of raising her children completely indoors; and in “Our Mom-and-Pop Opium Den,” a large opium chain threatens the local, family-run den when they move in down the street. Full of outcasts, underdogs, and losers, Jodzio uses a quirky combination of humor and truth to provide a deeper examination of contemporary society.