Bewildered

Carla Panciera. Univ. of Massachusetts, $24.95 (184p) ISBN 978-1-62534-133-4
This eclectic collection of 10 short stories from Panciera (author of the poetry collection One of the Cimalores) won the 2013 Grace Paley Prize in Short Fiction. The broken personal relationships between the confused protagonists is one of the predominant themes. In the excellent “End of Story,” 33-year-old Colin has left his wife, Maureen, after she confessed to an affair with the younger Kevin, who works for Colin at the local YMCA. While conflicted over whether to return to Maureen and their daughter, Colin dates the 26-year-old Rosanna, who is pressuring him for a further commitment. In the quirky title story, a lawyer tries to keep his troubled marriage going with his “stunning” but “crazy” wife until, one day, she vanishes, and he falls under police suspicion for foul play. “Fine Creatures of the Deep” features a feud between a bookkeeper, who has failed as a foster-care parent, and her snooty, elderly neighbor. “It Can’t Be This Way Everywhere” follows a man suffering from early-onset Alzheimer’s and his beleaguered wife, who must cope with his condition as she raises their daughters. In “On Being Lonely and Other Theories,” Jon Olvey, a married cop in a New England town, carries on a reckless tryst with an elementary school teacher with devastating results. Panciera’s first foray into fiction is a strong debut. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 08/11/2014
Release date: 10/01/2014
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