cover image Bravado’s House of Blues

Bravado’s House of Blues

J.A. Pitts. Fairwood (, $15.99 trade paper (222p) ISBN 978-1-933846-41-5

Pitts’s first collection of stories reveals a reach that exceeds his grasp. The 14 short works of science fiction and fantasy show that Pitts is comfortable with a wide range of settings; as ordinary as the soundstage of “Black Blade Blues” (linked to Pitts’s Sarah Beauhall books) and exotic as the alien world of “Towfish Blues,” as fantastic as the fairy kingdom of “Mushroom Clouds and Fairy Rings” and as familiar as the university campus of “Three Chords and the Truth.” Even the most mundane of them has some element of the strange or wondrous. Pitts often turns to art and romance, those most human of activities, to anchor the stories. Readers will be frustrated by flat prose, characters who are never fully realized, and conventional plots and approaches, but these shortcomings can be improved with practice, and the collection’s diversity and ambition hint at better works to come. (Nov.)