cover image Anatomies


Susan McCarty. Aforementioned Productions (, $16.50 trade paper (268p) ISBN 978-1-941143-03-2

The title of McCarty's debut short fiction collection is concerned less with biological phenomena than with what makes her characters tick emotionally. In "Fellowship," a young girl whose parents have announced their impending separation begins measuring experiences in her life in terms of loss and leaving. "Another Zombie Story" projects a darkly funny future in which people rediscover sexual relations, having foregone them for Internet porn in the years before the zombie apocalypse. "Indirect Object" culminates in an awkwardly intimate moment between the father of a young boy who committed suicide and the teacher with whom the boy was romantically infatuated. McCarty's characters often show poor judgment and make bad decisions, but her affection and sympathy for them is never in doubt. Her teen protagonist in "Shearing Day" makes a painfully tragic mistake, in apparent overcompensation for the physical frailty he experienced before his heart transplant. In "The Fat of the Land," a woman who returns home to Iowa after years in Manhattan accepts her fattening and infantilization by a succession of boyfriends as the inevitable consequence of putting her carefree past behind her and growing up. McCarty's deft blend of drama and humor always rings true; there's not an out-of-place moment in this resonant collection. (June)