cover image Reasons for and Advantages of Breathing

Reasons for and Advantages of Breathing

Lydia Peelle, . . Harper Perennial, $13.99 (208pp) ISBN 978-0-06-172473-2

In this debut collection of eight esoteric stories—three of them prize winners—Peelle’s characters negotiate tumultuous relationships and buried memories. This nimbly crafted group of lonely souls range from a one-legged taxidermist, who happens to be the only person in town who does not believe a hungry panther is on the loose, to a winter-bound woman, tormented by her ex-husband but saved by the most unlikely of creatures. In “This Is Not a Love Story,” a mother comes across a box of old photographs, which remind her of a summer she spent trying to turn a hobby into a career and a lush into a husband. In “Sweethearts of the Rodeo,” the narrator reminisces about working at a stable with her best friend, tormenting their handsome boss and the rich women who board their horses there. Yet another, “The Still Point,” follows a man traveling with a carnival, trying to outrun the loss of his twin brother and family home. Peelle writes her meaty characters with vigor and packs each tale with descriptions so subtly vibrant that they warrant multiple visits. (Aug.)