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Publishers WeeklyStarred Review.
Russo (Empire Falls) and Pitlor (The Birthdays) deliver an exceptional group of carefully crafted stories focusing on family, loss, self-discovery, aging, love, and friendship. Danielle Evans's "Someone Ought to Tell Her There's Nowhere to Go," covers the war-torn life of Georgie, an army vet struggling to maintain his sanity after witnessing brutality and devastation in Iraq, while Wells Tower's "Raw Water," showcases this young writer's remarkable gift for description: "She was sixteen or so, with a face like a left-handed sketch." Some welcome usual suspects appear (Jennifer Egan, Charles Baxter, Jim Shepard) alongside notable newcomers Téa Obreht and Karen Russell, leaving ample room for lesser knowns like Maggie Shipstead ("The Cowboy Tango") to show what makes their writing unique: "Where's your dad?" "Wyoming." "What's he do?" "Chickens." Russo likens selecting 20 from the roughly 250 submitted stories to "literary waterboarding" and evokes a metaphor from one of his favorite picks of the collection: stories are like jars of bees, and "we choose the tales that sting us good, leaving us surprised and sore... wide awake and alive."
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