Jessica Hollander’s story collection In These Times the Home Is a Tired Place is good stuff. It came in last month with several other books I was psyched about, so I’ve only gotten to the first three stories here, along with the title story (I’m a sucker for anything resembling a list), but they’ve made me want to read the other fifteen stories. Full review forthcoming.
Here’s Katherine Dunn (Geek Love) on In These Times the Home Is a Tired Place:
These are human tales of vigorously individual characters living with intensity. The author’s ear for revealing dialogue and double-edged humor ground these stories in a reality worth enduring. The characters connect despite suspicion and betrayal, beyond blood, circumstance or embarrassment at their own ridiculous humanity. Each piece is powered by a deep, slow boiling jubilation in the moment-to-moment, line-by-line fact of taking breath.
And here’s the first part of the title story (you can and should read the rest of it at Conjunctions):
1. Only one dream the mother remembered: driving, dead bodies on the road, the word PAPER large and black on a billboard. Sometimes she made up different dreams when she woke panicked in the gray morning, imagining an airport chase, a lake drowning—but they weren’t really hers, only dreams she believed she should have instead of always the one: driving through death and the urge to pull over.
2. The girl spent a Saturday morning cutting snowflakes from a pile of paper she’d found on her mother’s desk. The snowflakes were peppered with sliced negotiations, diamond-pierced words like child and property and alimony, and when the girl finished she strung the flakes together and hung them from her window so they trailed to the berry bush and flapped in the stirred summer wind.
3. Screamed in the kitchen one night. Too many cooks in the saucepan. Too little wine. Granite counters crusted with crushed tomato, sea salt, sausage casing, but no food besides the steaming meal bleeding over the bin. The girl sent to her room— Now. The father’s recipes stacked and chopped to pieces and confettied across the tile. Division always makes less unless one was a fraction to begin with. “Divide by me,” the father said. “Then we both come out ahead.”