cover image The Invisibles

The Invisibles

Hugh Sheehy. Univ. of Georgia, $24.95 (192p) ISBN 978-0-8203-4329-7

An invisible, according to Sheehy’s Flannery O’Connor Award–winning debut collection, is “a person who is unnoticeable, hence unmemorable.” The definition applies to the heroes of most of these stories, from the amnesiac in “Translation,” who recovers a scandalous past, to the title story, in which a young woman grows to envy her friends, victims of a sinister abduction. The best stories pair childhood idylls with horrific murder: a teacher and her student are terrorized by vicious killers in “Meat and Mouth”; a man returns to his childhood house to learn that his next-door neighbor, once a figure of erotic fixation, has been hacked to pieces, in “Smiling Down at Ellie Pardo”; the father in “After the Flood” tries to account for his stunted stepson’s destructive impulses. Other stories offer perpetual outsiders a slim shot at redemptive love: in “Whiteout,” a coke addict gets his head straight in a snowstorm; the protagonist of “Variations on a Theme” tries to overcome the trauma of his fiancée’s brutal murder in the arms of her physical double. A little violence goes a long way and the lurking fear at the heart of these stories elevates them beyond the merely promising to reveal a wicked new talent. (Oct. 1)