cover image Design Flaw

Design Flaw

Hugh Sheehy. Acre, $17 trade paper (192p) ISBN 978-1-946724-55-7

Sheehy (The Invisibles) delivers a dark and dazzling collection pocked with surface tension and an undercurrent of menace. The bewitching title story chronicles a troubled married couple who adopt a “designer animal,” part monkey and part cat, who is soon accused of mutilating neighborhood animals. The son in “Amontillado” laments his aging mother’s declining mental agility while attending the funeral of a childhood bully. A man in “Demonology, or Gratitude” takes in a hard-partying woman, falls in love with her, then watches her self-destruct from abusing various drugs. The good Samaritan driver in “First Responder” seeks only to help an increasingly menacing hitchhiker he meets at a gas station, but winds up getting so much more than he expected. Closing out the collection is the thoughtful “Modern Wonders,” about a computer interface that accesses users’ memories and shows them uncomfortable truths about themselves. Artfully imagined and written with a distinctly devilish edge, these beguiling yarns plumb the depths of humanity and explore how human behavior can be twisted and modified by science. Often murky and mysterious, with some only a few pages long, Sheehy’s curious tales never fail to enchant and entertain. (Nov.)