cover image Something Wonderful

Something Wonderful

Jo Lloyd. Tin House, $24.95 (232p) ISBN 978-1-951142-72-8

Each story in Lloyd’s crisp and layered debut collection is like a picture postcard from the Welsh countryside, belied by family secrets, dashed hopes, and the long shadows of history. In “My Bonny,” a widow raises her son after her husband is killed at sea, beginning a family saga that stretches into an ominous future in just a few short pages. The unseen upper-class visitors to a close-knit community leave a mark on its citizens in “The Invisible,” and in “Butterflies of the Balkans,” set in the run-up to WWI, two young women pursue a passion for lepidopterology. Other stories feature hopeful young people falling in and out of love as they make their first forays into adulthood, as in “Ade/Cindy/Kurt/Me” and “Your Magic Summer”; the latter follows the friendship of two girls as they become women, marry, and find their rapport threatened by the changes in their lives. Perhaps the best entry is the gothic “The Earth, Thy Great Exchequer, Ready Lies,” wherein the imperious and self-made lord of a humble township ventures into the lowlands, only to meet a mysterious fate. Throughout, the author shows a knack for stretching each germ of a story into a miniature epic. Lloyd’s singular talent is on full display. Agent: Anna Stein, ICM Partners. (Aug.)