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With the stories in her first collection, Elizabeth Stuckey-French establishes herself as a smart new voice in American fiction and stakes her claim to a territory somewhere on the edge of stability, where normal is not just boring but nearly impossible, and where standing out in a crowd may just cause isolation.
Her characters, mostly Midwesterners, are bizarre but endearing. A reform school graduate is placed in the care of her psychic aunt and in the servitude of a lucrative dog retrieval scheme. A mother who has accepted her son’s modest employment selling blue jeans bemoans the above-board lifestyle she discovers him leading as a wanted criminal. A rehab counselor lives vicariously through her already pregnant stepdaughter’s love affair with a drunk who spends his days in recovery and his nights in the bar.
Full of wry wit, tender sympathy, and heartland attitude, The First Paper Girl in Red Oak, Iowa is as strange, funny, and poignant as the real world it resembles.
“A wonderfully original voice.”–Chicago Tribune
“Remarkable for its range, humor, and quirkiness.”–USA Today