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Wild Things Paperback – October 15, 2016
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Brace yourself for Jaimee Wriston Colbert's Wild Things. These linked rural noir stories unfold their wings near the Susquehanna River in a landscape graced by wildlife and haunted by lost prosperity, business after business failing, padlocking their doors, factories with their boarded up windows, just another has-been town slowly shutting down. Those left behind must navigate the meth labs and broken families and their own oversized yearning. ''Abstinence may lead you to god,'' says one of Colbert's women, ''but it s hunger that'll get you fed.'' These characters sing their hunger and dance their hard-won wisdom. These brilliant, surprising stories defy gravity and take flight. --Bonnie Jo Campbell, American Salvage and Mothers, Tell Your Daughters
Jaimee Wriston Colbert is a storyteller of the first order, and Wild Things is intensely rewarding. A must read for short story lovers, the voice not only captivatingly original, but downright addictive. I did not want the collection to end, and for days afterward I could still hear that pitch-perfect blend of lyric and narrative whispering in my ear. Without question this is her finest book so far! --Jack Driscoll, The World of a Few Minutes Ago
A tremendous new collection from a writer with extraordinary powers of observation and an empathic understanding of the thorny, heartbreaking human condition. There's so much reverence for the world in Wild Things, so much intelligence and beauty on every page. A stunning book. --Christine Sneed, Little Known Facts and The Virginity of Famous Men
About the Author
Jaimee Wriston Colbert is the author of SHARK GIRLS, a finalist for the ForeWord Magazine Book of the Year and USA Book News Best Book of 2010 awards; the linked story collection, DREAM LIVES OF BUTTERFLIES, a gold medal winner of the 2008 Independent Publisher Award; a novel in stories, Climbing the God Tree, winner of the Willa Cather Fiction Prize; and the story collection, Sex, Salvation, and the Automobile, winner of the Zephyr Prize. Her stories have appeared in numerous journals, including Gettysburg Review, TriQuarterly, Praire Schooner, Tampa Review, Connecticut Review, and New Letters. Originally from Hawai'i, she is professor of English and creative writing at SUNY, Binghamton University.
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The stories center on Upstate New York landscapes along the Susquehanna River, where industrial flight has left an entire class of people—the former working class—jobless or working bad part-time jobs, barely getting by. Like J.D. Vance’s, Ohio landscape in Hillbilly Elegy-- another gutted post-industrial region – the setting of Wild Things also testifies to the dark currents of socio-economics and politics running parallel to poison currents of pollution in the Susquehanna.
Colbert’s collection is apocalyptic. But it is not an explosive nuclear end, not a comet-collision nor a volcanic conclusion to life-on-earth. Colbert’s is a SLOW APOCALYPSE, one we hardly notice— one that’s easy to deny. Amid the lushness of Upstate NY’s Southern tier, the natural collapse is slow, almost invisible. Same with the economic collapse-- the dark side of the American Dream. Characters suffer loss, their jobs collapsing, their homes collapsing, their lives collapsing in slow motion.
Wild Things leads us to understand the darkly deniable devastation of this SLOW APOCALYPSE. The book traces the source of our national bitterness and resentment. But more important, it treats its characters with compassion.
A warning and an elegy, Wild Things is a collection for this time.
I know it will stay with me, its stunning images and the complex lives of its characters whirling in my head for a longer time and in more ways than I can possibly anticipate.