cover image Until We Have Faces

Until We Have Faces

Michael Nye. Turner, $15.99 trade paper (244p) ISBN 978-1-68442-505-1

Set in the contemporary Midwest and revisiting themes from Nye’s debut novel, All the Castles Burned, this stoic, grim collection follows men who process emotions through violence, anger, and alcohol and find describing their feelings the “hardest thing to do.” These men are former athletes and members of the military, many of whom have fallen from their glory days and have been relegated to demoralizing jobs. In “Who Are You Wearing?” a man gets a gig waving signs at cars and wearing a bumble bee costume for the Halloween Superstore; and in “The Good Shepherd,” a man runs a farm that processes shelter dogs as a poultry substitute. A general sadness permeates as the characters wallow in loneliness; when one recognizes that “we all reek of desperation,” he could be speaking for all of the stories’ protagonists. But much of this desperation is born of their own doing, informed and complicated by their expectations that men remain strong and women steady. Despite the moping, drinking, and brawls, there’s hope here that happiness will not remain a “ridiculous, arrogant idea” for these men if only they can reconsider what happy means. Fans of Nye’s work will welcome this. (July)