cover image You Will Never Be Forgotten

You Will Never Be Forgotten

Mary South. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $15 trade paper (256p) ISBN 978-0-374-53836-1

South debuts with a playful, astute collection about modern alienation. In “Keith Prime,” a nurse devastated by her husband’s death works at a “Keith Fulfillment Center,” where she goes against regulations by becoming attached to one of the Keiths, clones born and put into perpetual sleep before being harvested for body parts, “scooped out like ice cream from a bucket.” In “The Age of Love,” elderly men at an assisted living center begin calling phone sex lines, affecting the lives of the staff, including complicating the relationship between the narrator, who works at the center, and his girlfriend. “Frequently Asked Questions About Your Craniotomy,” takes the form of a q&a in which a neurosurgeon’s unsettled personal life bleeds into her answers. In the title story, a woman who works at “the world’s most popular search engine” killing offensive and violent content begins to follow—first online, then in the real world—a man who raped her. In “Not Setsuko,” a woman raises her second daughter as an exact replica of her first child, who died at nine years old, down to killing the family’s cat on the day the first daughter lost her cat (“She loved the cat the second time as much as the first”). South’s stories are both funny and profound, often on the same page, but perhaps her best skill is plumbing the intricacies of loneliness, expertly dissecting what that term means in a technology-driven world. This is an electric jolt from a very talented writer. (Mar.)