cover image Golden Heart Parade

Golden Heart Parade

Joseph Holt. Santa Fe Writers Project, $15.95 trade paper (170p) ISBN 978-1-951631-07-9

This strangely moving debut collection from Holt offers up a motley mix of broken characters in stories about America’s heartland. In “Worst at Night,” a man and his daughter find a drunken guy in their house and bond over their ensuing struggle with the intruder. In “Charges,” a 30-year-old man slips from his new urban life with an office job and multiple newspaper subscriptions after he starts hearing voices and becomes “harangued by weird feelings of guilt.” He moves back home into his parents’ suburban basement and eventually starts a lawn care company, but his fortunes turn again. Like many of the protagonists, this one earns empathy while he’s down. Some stories are flash fiction and take up less than half a page while others are much longer, like “Barkley the Ice King,” which brilliantly chronicles the slow spiral into panic of an angry, unemployed lawyer. Unexpected humor abounds (“He’s fat for being from Arizona,” remarks the daughter about the drunk man in “Worst at Night”), cutting through the raw emotions, minimalist narrative, and snappy dialogue. Holt’s gaze falls on grit and grime, but he writes with plenty of heart. (Sept.)