cover image Show Them a Good Time

Show Them a Good Time

Nicole Flattery. Bloomsbury, $24 (256p) ISBN 978-1-63557-429-6

Disenchanted characters maneuver through difficult settings in Flattery’s surreal and offbeat debut collection. Though diverse in content, the stories come together through their dystopian elements and comparably cynical protagonists. In “Sweet Talk,” a young teen falls for her father’s employee against the backdrop of a series of mysterious disappearances of multiple women in her hometown. In “Track,” the girlfriend of a has-been comedian withstands neglect and abuse from him while secretly contributing to his downfall through an internet forum. The title story tells of a former adult film actress who confronts workplace politics at her new job as a gas station attendant. A woman navigates dating during the apocalypse and finds it to be equally as disappointing in “Not the End Yet.” In “Abortion, a Love Story,” two college misfits unite to produce a stage play that questions the expectations forced upon them as adults. A seamless blend of reality and the surreal, Flattery’s stories defy genre in an affecting yet unobtrusive manner. Readers should expect to be equal parts intrigued and unsettled. [em](Jan.) [/em]