cover image Concerning Those Who Have Fallen Asleep

Concerning Those Who Have Fallen Asleep

Adam Soto. Astra House, $17 trade paper (272p) ISBN 978-1-6626-0135-4

Soto (The Weightless World) returns with an imaginative and otherworldly collection. In “Ocelots,” a fatherless high school kid misses out on a party in the Indiana Dunes after his mother forces him to join her on a mysterious trip to Texas. In “YA,” two bookish juniors at a magnet school in Chicago find their bond tested during their involvement in a literary AI project, which eventually writes a book about their lives. In the title story, a period piece set in Philadelphia on the eve of the 1918 flu epidemic, a 19-year-old domestic helper named Hanna Schröder works at an estate, where her father, Abel, is a tailor. Abel has lately been lying low because of the flu, and Bingham Tomlin, a WWI veteran who lost his arm in the war and is impatient to get back his mended uniform, breaks into Hanna and Abel’s house when he thinks it’s empty. In these well-crafted stories, Soto evocatively shows how the characters are at turns mystified by inexplicable experiences or haunted by burdensome pasts. Bingham, for example, becomes so trapped in memories of 1918 and WWI while visiting Hanna’s father decades later that he must, as Soto writes, “run through the front door in search of 1941.” Readers will be enriched by the way this work thoroughly investigates the human heart. Agent: Marya Spence, Janklow & Nesbit, Assoc. (Sept.)