front cover of The Agriculture Hall of Fame
The Agriculture Hall of Fame
Stories
Andrew Malan Milward
University of Massachusetts Press, 2012
These powerful stories limn the complexities and dilemmas of life in Kansas, a state at "the center of the center of America," as a billboard in one story announces. Andrew Malan Milward explores the less visible aspects of the Kansas experience—where its agrarian past comes into conflict with the harsh present reality of drugs, fundamentalism, and corporatism, relegating its agrarian identity to museums and amusement parks.

Presented in a triptych, the stories in Milward's debut collection range across a varied terrain, from tumbledown rural barns to modern urban hospitals, revealing the secrets contained therein.
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All about Skin
Short Fiction by Women of Color
Edited by Jina Ortiz and Rochelle Spencer, Foreword by Helena María Viramontes
University of Wisconsin Press, 2014
All about Skin features twenty-seven stories by women writers of color whose short fiction has earned them a range of honors, including John Simon Guggenheim Fellowships, the New York Public Library Young Lions Fiction Award, the Flannery O'Connor Award, and inclusion in the Best American Short Stories and O. Henry anthologies. The prose in this multicultural anthology addresses such themes as racial prejudice, media portrayal of beauty, and family relationships and spans genres from the comic and the surreal to startling realism. It demonstrates the power and range of some of the most exciting women writing short fiction today.
            The stories are by American writers Aracelis González Asendorf, Jacqueline Bishop, Glendaliz Camacho, Learkana Chong, Jennine Capó Crucet, Ramola D., Patricia Engel, Amina Gautier, Manjula Menon, ZZ Packer, Princess Joy L. Perry, Toni Margarita Plummer, Emily Raboteau, Ivelisse Rodriguez, Metta Sáma, Joshunda Sanders, Renee Simms, Mecca Jamilah Sullivan, Hope Wabuke, and Ashley Young; Nigerian writers Unoma Azuah and Chinelo Okparanta; and Chinese writer Xu Xi.

Best Books for General Audiences, selected by the American Association of School Librarians

Best Books for General Audiences, selected by the Public Library Reviewers  
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American Homes
Ryan Ridge
University of Michigan Press, 2014
Poetry / Fiction / Art / Aphorisms. American Homes incorporates poetry, prose, and various schematic devices, including dozens of illustrations by the artist Jacob Heustis, to create a cracked narrative of the domestic spaces we inhabit.
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Lester Higata's 20th Century
Barbara Hamby
University of Iowa Press, 2010

“Lester Higata knew his life was about to end when he walked out on the lanai behind his house in Makiki and saw his long-dead father sitting in a lawn chair near the little greenhouse where Lester kept his orchids.” Thus begins Barbara Hamby’s magical narrative of the life of a Japanese American man in Honolulu. The quietly beautiful linked stories in Lester Higata’s 20th Century bring us close to people who could be, and should be, our friends and neighbors and families.

Starting in 1999 with his conversation with his father, continuing backward in time throughout his life with his wife, Katherine, and their children in Hawai‘i, and ending with his days in the hospital in 1946, as he heals from a wartime wound and meets the woman he will marry, Hamby recreates not just one but any number of the worlds that have shaped Lester. The world of his mother, as stubbornly faithful to Japan and Buddhism as Katherine’s mother is to Ohio and conservative Christianity; the world of his children, whose childhoods and adulthoods are vastly different from his own; the world after Pearl Harbor and Vietnam; the world of a professional engineer and family man: the worlds of Lester Higata’s 20th Century are filled with ordinary people living extraordinary lives, moving from farms to classrooms and offices, from racism to acceptance and even love, all in a setting so paradisal it should be heaven on earth.

Never forgetting the terrors of wartime—“We wake one morning with the wind racing toward us like an animal, and nothing is ever the same”—but focusing on the serene joys of peacetime, Lester populates his worlds with work, faith, and family among the palm trees and blue skies of the island he loves.

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Louisa May Alcott's
Fairy Tales Fantasy Stories
Daniel Shealy
University of Tennessee Press, 1992

front cover of The Necessity of Certain Behaviors
The Necessity of Certain Behaviors
Shannon Cain
University of Pittsburgh Press, 2011

Winner of the 2011 Drue Heinz Literature Prize

Shannon Cain’s stories chart the treacherous territory of the illicit. They expose the absurdity of our rituals, our definitions of sexuality, and above all, our expectations of happiness and self-fulfillment.
      Cain’s protagonists are destined to suffer—and sometimes enjoy—the consequences of their own restless discontent.  In the title story, Lisa, a city dweller, is dissatisfied with her life and relationships. Her attempt at self-rejuvenation takes her on a hiking excursion through a foreign land. Lisa discovers a remote village where the ritualized and generous bisexual love of its inhabitants entrances her. She begins to abandon thoughts of home.
      In “Cultivation,” Frances, a divorced mother strapped with massive credit card debt, has become an expert at growing pot. When she packs her three children and twelve pounds of homegrown into the minivan and travels cross-country to sell the stash, their journey becomes one of anguish, revelation, and ultimately transformation. “Cultivation,” like many of the stories in The Necessity of Certain Behaviors, follows a trail of broken relationships and the unfulfilled promises of modern American life.
      Told in precise, evocative prose, these memorable stories illuminate the human condition from a compelling, funny, and entirely original perspective.

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front cover of Once Upon a Cuento
Once Upon a Cuento
Edited by Lyn Miller-Lachmann
Northwestern University Press, 2003
Once Upon a Cuento is an anthology of short stories by contemporary Latinx authors. The stories, written for young people, grade five and up, explore heritage and history, identity, language, and relationships from the perspective of Mexican-American, Cuban-American, Dominican-American, and Puerto Rican writers. In all, the collection features seventeen stories by well-known and emerging writers, most of which are original to this collection. Contributors include acclaimed Puerto Rican children's authors Nicholasa Mohr and Carmen T. Bernier-Grand; Cuban-American novelist, essayist, and poet Virgil Suárez; and Mexican-American short story writers and teachers Lorraine López and Sergio Troncoso.

The stories are grouped by theme—heritage, holidays, and contemporary culture; family life; friends and other relationships; and dealing with differences. Individual stories explore additional themes such as the challenge of making do with little money, the process of moving to a new country and learning English, and young people's relationships to animals and to the natural world. Each story contains an introduction that offers historical, cultural, and biographical information. A general introduction and list of works by the thirteen contributors offer further avenues for research and discussion.

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Orders of Protection
Jenn Hollmeyer
University of North Texas Press, 2019

front cover of The Physics of Imaginary Objects
The Physics of Imaginary Objects
Tina May Hall
University of Pittsburgh Press, 2010

Winner of the 2010 Drue Heinz Literature Prize

The Physics of Imaginary Objects,  in fifteen stories and a novella, offers a very different kind of short fiction, blending story with verse to evoke fantasy, allegory, metaphor, love, body, mind, and nearly every sensory perception. Weaving in and out of the space that connects life and death in mysterious ways, these texts use carefully honed language that suggests a newfound spirituality.

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front cover of Radical Empathy
Radical Empathy
Robin Romm
Four Way Books, 2024
In this new collection of short stories that Ben Fountain declares “all marvels,” Robin Romm (author of The Mercy Papers) revels in the mess behind the slick veneer of modern life. A financially-strapped college student sells her sought after “Ivy League eggs” to a movie star, then wrestles with her feelings as the child grows up in the public eye. A long-married wife in the midst of a bungled kitchen remodel imagines the excitement of her neighbor’s unstable erotic life. Isolated by quarantine, a young widow contends with a talking daffodil that panders to her in therapy-speak. Disquieting, original and strangely reassuring, these ten new stories make quick work of the easy truths and thoughtless salvos that keep us from seeing the wildness of our irreducible lives.
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front cover of Send Me Work
Send Me Work
Stories
Katherine Karlin
Northwestern University Press, 2011
Winner, 2011 Balcones Fiction Prize

Unlike the heroines of domestic fiction, Katherine Karlin's women face their biggest challenges outside of the house. The characters in this debut collection encompass a broad range of contemporary American experiences: a struggling young woman in post-Katrina New Orleans persuades a welder to teach her his trade; an orchestra oboist hears a confession from a beloved teacher; an idealistic aerobics instructor decamps for revolution- era Nicaragua to pick coffee on a farming collective.

In each of these stories, Karlin offers rare insight into the place of work in the lives of women, her narrators keenly observant and attuned to the humor that arises when life doesn't turn out as planned. But even more remarkable is the fullness with which she renders characters who make us wonder how they've escaped the notice of other writers. In unadorned prose that evokes complete worlds with deceptive ease, Karlin shows us people immersed in the negotiations of survival, just at the edge of being able to make sense of their lives.
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The Stranger Next Door
An Anthology from the Other Europe
Richard Swartz
Northwestern University Press, 2013

The Balkans have been so troubled by violence and mis­understanding that we have the verb “balkanize,” mean­ing to break up into smaller, warring components. While some of the region’s artists and thinkers have invari­ably fallen into nationalistic tendencies, the twenty-two prominent authors represented here, from the erstwhile Yugoslavia and its neighbors Albania and Bulgaria, have chosen to attempt to bridge these divides. The essays, biographical sketches, and stories in The Stranger Next Door form a project of understanding that picks up where politics fail. The English-language translation joins edi­tions of the book that appeared concurrently in all of the participating countries.

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front cover of Temporary Lives
Temporary Lives
Stories
Ramola Dharmaraj
University of Massachusetts Press, 2010
These ten memorable stories explore interior worlds and moments of intensity, either awakening or loss, in the lives of diverse characters—mostly young girls and married women, but also boys and long-laboring men. Whether Hindu, Muslim, or Christian, they are all burdened by the complex layerings of class and gender, and are variously able or unable to find escape from the conditions of oppression that surround them. Some manage to rise above their situations by experiencing the denials and hardships of their lives as temporary; others find no such relief.

In the title story, Rose Ammal, who married young and bore numerous children, survives her husband's betrayal and religious conversion by creating her own private redemptions and conversions. "The Next Corpse Collector" chronicles significant moments in the lives of two young brothers, Anwar and Amir, who seek to escape the destiny of corpse
collector, the job their father is determined to bequeath to them. "What the Watchman Saw" offers a glimpse into the life of Venkatesh, a longtime watchman who is faced with the dilemma of whether to report the theft of stolen antiquities from the house of his new neighbor.

"Esther" is a tale of the haunting, troubled spirit of Leeza's grandmother, who lingers in Leeza's childhood home and unexpectedly helps her during the summer her grandfather dies as she wakes to an adolescent infatuation with a neighbor boy. In "The Couple in the Park," a young middle-class wife, Laura, in a constrictive arranged marriage, finds comfort in watching a couple in the park who remind her of her own grandparents as she tips over the edge into schizophrenia. "The Man on the Veranda" traces a significant day in the life of retired government-worker Parameswaran—the day his wife finally leaves him.
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front cover of Trigger Man
Trigger Man
More Tales of the Motor City
Jim Ray Daniels
Michigan State University Press, 2011

Trigger Man is a superb collection of stories capturing the gritty spirit of Detroit and the sometimes grim circumstances of the characters shaped by its industry and economics. Grounded on the bleak streets of the Motor City, these stories also explore the mythical “Up North,” the idealized country of many Detroit workers’ fantasy—an escape from the concrete and metal reality of their daily lives. Daniels’ characters are resilient and defiant, inhabiting a world that has often placed them on the margins of society, scouring a declining region for spiritual providence. Building on Daniels’ earlier collections of stories, Trigger Man brings vivid life to individuals struggling both to remain in and to flee the city that once sustained them.

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