The Violence Almanac
Jeffra’s thought-provoking and bold debut collection (after the essay collection The Fabulous Ekphrastic Fantastic!
) shocks in its poignant exploration of love, violence, impulse, and heartbreak. In “Babies,” a biographer delves into the case of Andrea Yates—a woman convicted of murdering her five children—in an attempt to understand her own sporadic and alarming violent impulses. After trans sex worker Lalo’s best friend is murdered by a john, she optimistically plans for her future in the heartrending “Jingle-Jingle-Pop.” In “Footfall,” fifth grader Corey searches the woods for a man who escaped from prison, hoping a successful capture will redeem him in the eyes of his family and classmates. Others are more low-key, with emotional turbulence under the surface. An aspiring film critic receives obscure amateur videos in the mail and watches them with her emotionally distant boyfriend in the fraught “Clips.” In “Been Cut,” two brothers try to evade their father’s anger after someone steals the family’s crawfish traps. Throughout these portraits of the exhausted and murderous, the carelessly angry, and the heartbroken and vengeful, Jeffra compassionately and unflinchingly depicts an array of desperate characters as they try to attain the lives they’ve always dreamed of. While the stories can be emotionally challenging, they resonate deeply. (Apr.)