cover image One Morning

One Morning

Jessica Hagy. Tartarus, $45 (244p) ISBN 978-1-912586-26-4

Hagy’s fascinating debut novel (after Indexed, a collection of her blog posts) takes place over 12 hours starting at midnight, with each hour narrated by one of 12 women living in the dying, former coal mining town of Gour Borough, Pa. Built on an area where “sinkholes... bloom like dandelions,” the town subtlety serves as the catalyst for each of the narrators. They include a theatrical costumer who specializes in using animal hides and bones in her work, and uses arson as a means to unwind; two children who have been held hostage by a mad woman for years; a wife who chooses a passive route to murder; a diner owner with a secret flair for finance; a hotelier with a daring plan to “save the hotel, revive the town, keep everyone and then some employed”; a maid overwhelmed by misfortune; and a disgruntled geologist who’s “working at the bakery until she begins her PhD in the fall.” Each voice is captivating and distinct, and each adds a new level of urgency that leads to the haunting finale. The big mystery is how the stories will intersect and affect one another. This elegantly told and thought-provoking work deserves a wide audience. (Aug.)