L. Annette Binder. Sarabande (Consortium, dist.), $15.95 trade paper (168p) ISBN 978-1-936747-31-3
Whether the situations in Binder’s debut story collection (winner of the 2011 Mary McCarthy Prize in Short Fiction) are distortions of the plausible, such as the gigantic woman in “Nephilim” (which won a Pushcart Prize) who builds a long, bittersweet bond with a neighborhood boy who grows up doing odd jobs for her, or are rooted firmly in the everyday, such as “Tremble,” ostensibly about a disagreement between neighbors, the characters are enmeshed in a mingling of the spiritual and the nightmarish. Moments of epiphany are understated and rarely joyful: “His face was like a mirror, and it was better not to look” (from “Nephilim”); “He reached across the table and saw his reflection in the dark window glass, and he cried” (from “Mourning the Departed”). The complex interweaving of themes, rendered through precise detail, is akin to a powerful subterranean disturbance that sends seismographs jumping but leaves few visible effects. The subdued tone transcends the mundane, as in “Galatea,” in which the mother of a woman grieving her missing daughter says, “People didn’t go to the cemetery to visit the dead. They went to visit their memories.” The possibility of communication is fleeting but desired; as a visionary boy notes in “Halo,” “it’s good to have somebody who will listen even if they don’t understand.” (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 06/18/2012
Release date: 08/01/2012
Ebook - 168 pages - 978-1-936747-39-9
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