cover image He's Sorry, She's Sorry, They're Sorry, Too

He's Sorry, She's Sorry, They're Sorry, Too

Barbara Ann Porte. Hanging Loose Press, $21 (152pp) ISBN 978-1-882413-47-8

After 24 books for children and young adults, librarian Porte's first collection of 14 short stories for grownups captures universal foibles and fortitudes by retelling ancient multicultural folktales in thoroughly modern American settings. The metafictional tension between the old and new results in heightened suspense and often delightfully wry humor. In ""How a Basement Impostor Was Finally Disposed of, and a Wife Remained Faithful,"" for example, Porte transforms the 11th-century Japanese Konjaku tale by arming her ghost-stalking wife, Mrs. Sugimoto, with a sushi knife and her husband's multipurpose three-way lantern (complete with krypton spotlight bulb, blinking amber beam, soft area illumination and AM/FM radio to accompany her pursuit). In ""Mr. Mabrey's Treatment,"" a husband-and-wife doctor team prescribe magical, Viagra-like shots with unpredictable effects, and in ""The Devil and the Missionaries,"" a principled Jewish woman whips up a potent pokeweed concoction to combat the effects of a Christian radio talk-show. Other stories are based on Native American lore, African and Haitian folktales and even newspaper accounts, which in Porte's capable hands become the seeds of legends in their own right. (July)