Stabs at Happiness: 13 Stories

Todd Grimson. Schaffner, $24.95 (200p) ISBN 978-1-936-18244-2
Grimson’s quirky first story collection offers off-kilter and occasionally surreal glimpses of the world and its inhabitants. In “Nothing in Tangier,” the unexplained disappearance of an American tourist in Tangier and the premature death of her boyfriend are uncertainties so profound to a fellow traveler that they cause the complete loosening of his hold on reality. “What the Matter Is” features Jean Harlow, traveling incognito in a brunette wig and noting how all the women she sees are attempting to imitate her blonde-bombshell look. “Batista’s Lieutenant,” set in prerevolutionary Cuba, is built from brief scenes of interpersonal dramas whose often violent outcomes suggest the general instability of the country. The contents alternate between brief experimental fictions with an absurdist slant—among them “P not Q,” whose increasingly bizarre events suggest an alien infiltration of Earth—and more traditional dramatic narratives. Grimson (Brand New Cherry Flavor) anchors all his stories with well-wrought descriptions of people and places that linger long afterward. Agent: Jeff Gerecke, G Agency. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 09/10/2012
Release date: 11/01/2012
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