She Is Haunted

Paige Clark. Two Dollar Radio, $17.99 trade paper (230p) ISBN 978-1-953387-20-2

In turns devastating and hilarious, Clark’s exceptional debut collection cuts right to the emotional core of its characters and their conflicts in stories that examine Asian identity, familial relationships, climate anxiety, and gender with an astonishing sense of nuance and clarity. In “Lie-in,” an injured ballerina uses her time off to learn Cantonese while her husband dances in an international production of Don Quixote with a new beautiful female lead. In “A Woman in Love,” a recently divorced woman plots to steal her pet dog from her ex-husband, reflecting on the question of “when does a dog become your dog?” A woman and her partner undergo brain surgery to change their body temperatures in “Amygdala” to contend with the Earth’s rising temperatures. In “Private Eating,” a Chinese woman lies about being a vegetarian to an anesthesiologist whom she has recently started dating (he’s judgmental of meat eaters, but otherwise seems like a catch). In the title story, the ghost of a woman who recently died from cancer befriends Neil Armstrong, haunts her loved ones, and reckons with the cruel joke of death. With a striking style, Clark consistently hits her mark, sticking each landing with breathtaking poignancy. This will not disappoint. (May)
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