cover image Entry Level

Entry Level

Wendy Wimmer. Autumn House, $17.95 trade paper (160p) ISBN 978-1-63768-058-2

Wimmer’s innovative and darkly humorous debut collection employs emergency situations and fantastical elements as the protagonists struggle to make a living with low-paying jobs. “Passeridae” follows a group of crew members aboard a cruise ship as they take cover from terrorists in a laundry closet, where they reflect on the debauchery of their guests and reference the movie Titanic while joking about their low likelihood of survival. “INGOB” involves a search in Door County, Wis., for the missing county snowplow driver, nicknamed “Chief.” Mabel, the narrator, wonders if Chief’s disappearance is connected to a mysterious stranger who recently appeared at the rec center, where Mabel runs the bingo table. She describes the sound of his voice as “rustling leaves or maybe a rusted chain dropping to the floor,” which caused her to fumble the cards, and Chief came to her aid by ordering the man to leave. In “Strange Magic,” the employees of a skating rink discover that if they skate counterclockwise around the rink, they will reverse their aging. When Mary Ellen, who had a mastectomy, discovers her breast has regrown, the narrator’s understated reaction perfectly sums up the mood of Wimmer’s characters: “We had confirmation that something weird was happening.” Throughout, Wimmer makes the most of strange situations. (Oct.)