cover image This Is Not Your City: Stories

This Is Not Your City: Stories

Caitlin Horrocks. Sarabande (Consortium, dist.), $15.95 trade paper (168p) ISBN 978-1-932511-91-8

Plimpton Prize%E2%80%93winner Horrocks effortlessly navigates the comedy and bewilderment of being middle class without an ounce of condescension, martyrdom, or sensationalism. In "Going to Estonia," a daughter of Lapland reindeer farmers escapes her fruitless future by attending university in southern Finland, while the American couple on a restorative vacation away from their handicapped son in "In the Gulf of Aden, Past the Cape of Guardafui" is held hostage by a crew of Somali pirates and forced to face their true feelings about the future. In "At the Zoo," as a mother ponders her tenuous relationship to her father and his to her young son while on an afternoon outing to the zoo, Horrocks inhabits the child, mother, and grandfather with an even hand, rounding out each character's fears and desires. Describing the blue-collar grandfather, she writes, "He is proud to not be vain, although he knows that is its own kind of vanity," and the boy has a terrible realization: "He'd begged for the zoo, and the zoo is a terrible place." It's a standout story in a stellar collection, the perfect example of Horrocks's ability to create an authentic and thoughtful narrative of honesty and hurt and hope. (July)