Marisa Matarazzo, Author . Soft Skull $14.95 (247p) ISBN 978-1-59376-271-1

Matarazzo's bold and unusual debut, a collection of interrelated short stories, revolves around characters who all experience heat. In the grotesque “Hotmouths,” a young girl without hands is saved from drowning by a buoy repairman whose mouth blisters her lips when they kiss. In “Fisty Pinions,” a girl who has “glass ashtrays for breasts” falls for a woman who has loved her from afar since high school. In the haunting “Freshet,” a teenage baby- sitter becomes pregnant, igniting a trend among her fellow babysitters. The town parents, now left babysitterless, set into motion a shocking and devastating scheme to regain their freedom. “Cataplasms” tells the story of siblings sent to live with their father after the young boy cuts open his neighbor and replaces his liver with a fish. Matarazzo has an admirable ability to surprise, and although at times she seems to be trying too hard to provoke (young lovers lips “pop and sputter and sting”; two children create an underwater sex rig), the stories ring true. Each scene is rendered so poetically, in a strange combination of tenderness and aggression, that it is difficult to turn away. (Feb.)

Reviewed on: 11/23/2009
Release date: 01/01/2010
Genre: Fiction
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