cover image Remarkable


Dinah Cox. BOA (Consortium, dist.), $16 trade paper (160p) ISBN 978-1-942683-10-0

The stories in Cox's debut collection are as varied as they are sharp and surprising, venturing fearlessly into unexpected territory. The stories neither revere nor despise their Oklahoma setting, even as many of Cox's delightfully odd characters feel stuck there and dream of someday getting out. A man robs a Kentucky Fried Chicken in the first of "Three Small Town Stories," prompting a revelation about the contradictions of small-town life. In the second of the three stories, readers meet Melissa and Shane, a young college couple home for the summer who, while on a miserable hayride, slowly realize how difficult it would be to escape where they came from. "Adolescence in B Flat" features a high school girl who answers phones at a telephone museum while eavesdropping on the conversations of strangers through the use of a switchboard room believed to be defunct, and who is ultimately exposed to more of human nature than she bargained for. "Old West Night" is narrated by an actor portraying a hero in a western and who, during a lengthy weather delay in shooting the film, witnesses an act of violence he doesn't understand that reminds him that he is an outsider in Oklahoma. Some of the stories, such as "Glue," in which a lonely woman working a boring office job magically corresponds with the object of her desire, veer off course, but Cox's powerful narrative voice saves them from becoming too involved in their own eccentricities. This is a daring and confidently written collection. (May)