cover image Wifeshopping


Steven Wingate, . . Houghton Mifflin/Mariner, $12.95 (190pp) ISBN 978-0-547-05365-3

Wingate’s Katharine Bakeless Nason Prize–winning debut collection is dominated by first-person narratives of men with women problems. In “Beaching It,” an itinerant metalsmith working the craft fair circuit sleeps with a rich married woman and is surprised by the unexpected turn their seemingly predictable affair takes. The narrator of “Me and Paul” adopts an alter ego to woo a single mother, but his ruse doesn’t turn out the way he had hoped. In “Meeting Grace,” a man makes the mistake of introducing his mentally unstable sister to his fiancée, without forewarning her of his sister’s condition; things end badly. And a verbal showdown between the woman ambulance driver in “Three A.M. Ambulance Driver” and the story’s motivational speaker narrator shocks the narrator. In each story, longing, inertia and confusion compel characters to act in unexpected ways, and though the stories (except “In Flagstaff,” the longest and weakest piece) all hit the same note, they hit it well. (July)