Virgin and Other Stories

April Ayers Lawson. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $23 (192p) ISBN 978-0-86547-869-5
The five stories in Lawson’s superb debut collection explore youth in extremis, through voices at once elegant in their phrasing and unrestrained in their emotion. In the title story, a young husband suspects his emotionally unavailable wife of infidelity, only to find himself tempted by the same at a society party. “The Way You Must Play Always” recalls the power dynamics of Carson McCullers’s “Wunderkind,” detailing a teenage piano student’s infatuation with her instructor’s sickly homebound brother. “Three Friends in a Hammock” measures the growing interpersonal distances among three longtime friends who reunite at a birthday party. A boy wrestles with his mother’s complicated relationship with a recently deceased transgender woman in “The Negative Effects of Homeschooling,” and, in the collection’s longest and most freewheeling story, “Vulnerability,” a talented painter contemplates and eventually consummates an affair with a peculiar but charming art dealer. The precision of Lawson’s prose brilliantly contrasts with the messy inner lives of her characters. These are stories that dare to tread where they shouldn’t, on uncertain ground that feels, in the hands of this talented young writer, remarkably concrete. Agent: Rebecca Nagel, the Wylie Agency. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 09/12/2016
Release date: 11/01/2016
Paperback - 192 pages - 978-1-250-14123-1
Ebook - 978-0-86547-870-1
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