cover image Stoop City

Stoop City

Kristyn Dunnion. Biblioasis, $16.95 trade paper (224p) ISBN 978-1-77196-386-2

The heroines in Dunnion’s defiant collection offer refreshingly blunt observations about the world around them, in settings alternating between the gritty and the fantastical. “How We Learn to Lie” begins with the line, “Julia would have done him in a heartbeat, before” and charts how narrator Julia, a bitter real estate agent, came to be disgusted by the “Ken-doll” client she once would have found attractive. In “Asset Mapping in Stoop City,” sex worker Sheila sardonically affirms her self-worth in a riff on advice from a social worker to “make the most of your assets”: “Sheila agrees. If you’ve got a great ass, show your ass.” Dunnion’s other protagonists are similarly resilient with yearnings that manifest as various levels of obsession. In “Now Is the Time to Light Fires,” the ghost of the heroine’s recently deceased lover keeps returning to rifle through drawers, eat, and sit idly in chairs. Cheeky irony is on full display here, as in “Oort Cloud Gets a Makeover,” in which a woman takes stock of the big house she’s rented a room in, particularly its customs and room rules: “Like a vampire, you have to be invited.” Dunnion’s indomitable heroines and wry prose make a refreshing tonic. (Feb.)