cover image False Bingo

False Bingo

Jac Jemc. MCD, $15 trade paper (240p) ISBN 978-0-374-53835-4

Jemc’s electric, nimble collection (after The Grip of It) plumbs its characters’ most intimate relationships and unearths potent hidden truths. In “Delivery,” a father’s sudden spike in online shopping signifies a troubling development. In “Don’t Let’s,” a woman stays in the Georgia Lowcountry, trying to clear her mind after leaving an abusive relationship, but finds signs of a ghost’s presence in her house. “Pastoral,” about the work of a porn actress who has a husband and two sons, defies convention by having no conflict at all (“There are no wolves at the door.... There is no obstacle that requires overcoming”). A woman’s stay at a wellness retreat is impinged upon by an overbearing fellow retreater in “Maulawiyah.” In “Hunt and Catch,” a woman named Emily is ominously followed by a man in a garbage truck (“When he waved, Emily felt like someone had shoved the skin of her face in the direction of his hand”). In “Trivial Pursuit,” an unnamed couple is irritated by the eccentricities of a couple known as the Board Game Couple before dumping them for the Artist Couple, followed by a succession of other couples, each with their own problems. Many of these stories are only a few pages, allowing Jemc to deliver a range of payoffs, some unsettling, some poignant, all evocative. This constantly shifting collection will leave readers beguiled. Agent: Claudia Ballard, WME Entertainment. (Oct.)