cover image This Is Not an Accident: Stories and a Novella

This Is Not an Accident: Stories and a Novella

April Wilder. Viking, $26.95 (224p) ISBN 978-0-670-02604-3

Wilder’s previously published short stories, along with a new novella, appear in an anthology that focuses on her characters’ emotional and romantic unraveling. Her gifts include a knack for sketching her characters’ thoughts and the ease with which she draws readers into their stories. In “This Is Not an Accident,” black humor accompanies a woman’s descent into obsessive-compulsive behavior. “We Were Champions” ends with an intriguing insight, as a woman finally determines the cause of her relationship’s failure. The most disturbing story is “Me Me Me,” in which the narrator writes letters to herself while avoiding phone calls from the social worker trying to vet her sister’s adoption of a little girl. In just 16 pages, Wilder captures the child’s bizarre behavior, the hopeful mother’s addictive personality, and glimpses of the none-too-emotionally stable narrator’s backstory. In “You’re That Guy,” the anthology’s symbolically rich novella, the death of a once-brilliant game theorist who ended up homeless and living on the streets sends his son into an emotional tailspin. Wilder draws on both humor and tragedy to deliver her insights about homelessness (“You only need to survive the transition”), loneliness, and death. Agent: Denise Shannon, Denise Shannon Literary Agency. (Feb.)