When the matron of an Alabama catering family dies, Fin Sweetleaf, thirty-ish and single, inherits a business in disarray and a sixteen-year-old nephew yearning for normalcy.
These two mismatched orphans, Fin and Hector Sweetleaf, must form a family in the wake of the domineering matron's death.
In her debut novel, Shebang, acclaimed short story writer Valerie Vogrin tells a love story with a heroine who refuses to accept the plot line. Fin coasts. For saving the business, for forging a family with Hector, for becoming a meaningful guardian, she has no plan. Catering indiscriminately to everyone, to "the whole shebang," Fin accepts the friends and lovers who appear on the front porch and drift into her life.
What begins as a near-empty house fills past capacity. Romantic advances tumble in a linen closet and lovemaking boils over onto kitchen counters. Longing for peace and any semblance of status quo, Hector endures yoga practice and poetry recitations, a trip to the emergency room and a home birth, feasts and fiascoes, trampoline tricks, and an amateur shot put contest.
Steeped in the rough mysteries and quirkiness of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, Shebang celebrates the intricate web of family lifethe families we're born into, and the families we create out of necessity.
Valerie Vogrin, an assistant professor of English at Southern Illinois University in Edwardsville, currently lives in St. Louis. Her work has appeared in Black Warrior Review, Ambergris, the Chattahoochee Review, and Playboy (winning the Playboy College Fiction Contest in 1988).