Big Lonesome

Joseph Scapellato. Mariner, $13.95 trade paper ISBN 978-0-544-76980-9
Scapellato’s refreshing stories engage at every point and are capped off with perfect endings. Scapellato is an exceptional surrealist, and he seems to have a firm handle on his own exuberance and quirkiness, his characters reminiscent of familiar archetypes but served with a twist. His subjects never wander far from cowboys, cowgirls, and the myths of the cinematic West. His short stories have a lean trajectory and economy. “Immigrants” offers an idealized mini-biography of a child of immigrants, told from a parent’s perspective; the name of the child is left blank throughout, emphasizing the universality and, perhaps, the triteness of this dream. Other evocative stories—among them “Western Avenue,” “Life Story,” “Driving in the Early Dark, Ted Falls Asleep”—are like high-resolution snapshots, full of vivid detail. The few longer, shaggier stories are filled with subtitles that break them into episodes and repetitive hooks that lend structure. “Cowboy Good Stuff’s Four True Loves” features a sheriff’s daughter (also a schoolteacher), a Spanish don’s daughter, a prostitute, and a radio as well as some sidebar favorites. In “Cowgirl,” the title character slowly comes to understand her own special strangeness. This debut collection is bracing and delightful. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 12/12/2016
Release date: 02/28/2017
Genre: Fiction
Open Ebook - 256 pages - 978-0-544-77054-6
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