cover image In These Times the Home Is a Tired Place

In These Times the Home Is a Tired Place

Jessica Hollander. Univ. of North Texas, $14.95 trade paper (152p) ISBN 978-1-57441-523-0

Winner of the 2013 Katherine Anne Porter Prize in Short Fiction, Hollander’s debut collection effectively fuses the common (childhood adventures, unhappy adults) with the bizarre (a grandmother obsessed with buttons, a gym full of people refusing to wear clothes) to create an intriguing volume. Shunning traditional story structure, Hollander has a deft ear for dialogue, and she refuses to let characters converse in straightforward patter. Instead, these protagonists respond with non sequiturs, half-answers, or silence, and in the book’s 19 narratives (some as short as the single, looping paragraph of “If We Miss the Beginning”), domestic life is completely dissected. “What Became of What She Had Made” follows an overbearing mother as she tries to understand her daughter’s silence, while in “March On,” a teenage girl tries to escape a life in flux, yet never quite evades its grasp. Likewise, “The Problem with Moving,” one of the collection’s strongest stories, casts the reader as a transient protagonist, constantly on the move but always running into the same types of people (the neighbor, the neighbor’s dog) and places (apartment buildings, work). The details in these stories ring true and are recognizable amid the insanity. A potent work from a strong new literary voice. (Nov.)