Bad Thoughts

Nada Alic. Vintage, $16 trade paper (224p) ISBN 978-0-593-46663-6

In Alic’s candid and humorous debut collection, women explore their darkest thoughts and fears. The narrator in “My New Life” reflects on her alienation at a baby shower (“I sometimes worry that motherhood is contagious, like a parasite or the way cohabitating women synchronize their cycles”). There, she finds a kindred spirit in Mona, who sets up a dating profile despite being married. In “Tug Spin Release,” the narrator, a gym teacher, attends a bachelorette party in Cabo, where she holds out for an unlikely acceptance from a writing residency. In Cabo, she feels increasingly isolated from the others as they overshare about their lives. In “The Party,” the narrator and her boyfriend take a quiz from a swank bedding company before selecting their pricey sheets, and face their ambivalence over whether they want children. Later, afraid she’s having a dangerous reaction to an ecstasy pill, the narrator calls a telehealth line and confides in the doctor about her life, a “conga line of disappointments” in which she’s “getting less young and more old at the same time.” As the characters wrestle with what’s missing from their lives, the author finds mordant hilarity. The more Alic leans into the weirdness, the more addictive this becomes. Agent: Marya Spence, Janklow & Nesbit Assoc. (July)
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