Recent reads from Jessica Anthony, Kevin Wilson, and David Small

The Convalescent by Jessica Anthony: Wildly imaginative, funny, and sad first novel that documents the odd ancestry and odder life of Rovar Pfliegman, a diminutive Hungarian who sells meat out of a stalled bus in the middle of a field in Virginia.  It gets weirder and more wonderful from there.  So says Rovar, in some of the best coupling of lines I’ve read this year:

“I may be sick.  I may come from a hole in the ground.  My best friend may be an insect.

But at least I don’t live in decent society.”

Tunneling to the Center of the Earth by Kevin Wilson: Amazing collection full of fresh ideas and characters.  Funny, and more times than not, dark as hell.  “grand stand-in” features for hire grandmas.  “birds in the house” documents one family’s nasty history of sibling rivalry through an origami competition.  “the shooting man” might be the most original horror story I’ve read this year, with a small town all a’ twitter about a show featuring a dude who shoots himself in the face.  “the museum of whatnot” is funny, warm, and sad, and the end story “worst-case scenario” is just plain brilliant with how it tweaks the apocalyptic zeitgeist; the humble narrator works for Worst Case Scenario Inc., has a degree in Catastrophe, but is really worried that his girlfriend will leave him because he’s going bald.  Can’t recommend this collection enough.

Stitches by David Small:  This graphic-novel style memoir was today nominated for a National Book Award.  Deservedly so.  It’s a devastating account of family dysfunction and cruelty, and perseverance, hope and humanity.


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