cover image Bright Shards of Someplace Else

Bright Shards of Someplace Else

Monica McFawn. The University of Georgia Press, $24.95 (176p) ISBN 978-0-8203-4687-8

Alienated people who can't get right in the world stand at the center of this pensive collection%E2%80%94winner of the Flannery O'Connor Award for Short Fiction. A teacher grapples with an accusation of murder in "Line of Questioning"; in "Out of the Mouths of Babes," a babysitter with a great deal to lose finds an unlikely ally in her young charge%E2%80%94but only temporarily. "The Chautauqua Sessions" paints an intricate portrait of a druggie son and his deeply resentful father, delving into the ways addiction can irreparably destroy trust and love. The settings are American%E2%80%94Massachusetts, Tennessee, a ranch in the middle of the country. Yet it is the fateful destination that unifies these characters: nearly all gaze uneasily in the direction of death, whether struggling to bury a horse in "Dead Horse Productions," or collecting a father's ashes in "Ornament and Crime," or managing a memorial video business in "Key Phrases." Bursts of insight illuminate these carefully crafted tales; McFawn somehow wrenches the deepest humanity out of even the most unlikable characters. (Sept.)