I Want to Show You More

Jamie Quatro, Author
Jamie Quatro. Grove, $24 (224p) ISBN 978-0-8021-2075-5
Paperback - 224 pages - 978-0-8021-2223-0
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The stories in Quatro’s debut range from realist gems to macabre nightmares, exploring love, faith, and marriage in the contemporary American South. Fantasies of infidelity structure the work with interlocking tales about a wife and mother who has an unconsummated affair with a long-distance lover (“Caught Up”; “You Look Like Jesus”; “Holy Ground”; and “Relatives of God”). Disease, sex, and death are persistent muses: in the gothic fantasy “Demolition,” a rogue mystic turns a church congregation into a sex cult after the destruction of their church; two teenagers with mysterious illnesses find solace in one another in “Sinkhole”; and in “Better to Lose an Eye,” an embarrassed teenager attends a pool party with her quadriplegic mother. Here and elsewhere Quatro strives for a dreamlike atmosphere, which leads to some heavy-handed fare, like “Decomposition,” in which the corpse of a woman’s lover decomposes in her marital bedroom. In a more subdued mode, the tragic stories “Here” and “Georgia the Whole Time” follow a family as it deals with a mother’s cancer and struggles to grieve after her death. Quatro’s dark imagination unfolds in spare, minimalist prose that strives to shock with its decadent themes and frank sexuality, an outré effect that wears thin, despite fine moments of horror, humor, and genuine tenderness. Agent: Anna Stein, Aitken Alexander Associates. (Mar.)
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