Favorite New Fiction
from Small and Micro Publishers

Family stories/family issues

This Close: Stories

This Close: Stories

However closely marriage, parenthood, or circumstance may connect people, divides are perhaps inevitable. The nature and consequences of these divides are central to This Close, Jessica Francis Kane’s layered, complex, and sometimes heartrending new story collection.

In “American Lawn” and “The Essentials of Acceleration,” Kane explores divisions between neighbors in a university town. A major source of resentment in both stories is Janeen, a young mother who, with her husband, Ryan, is fixing up an old bungalow and its long neglected grounds

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Body and Bread

Body and Bread

Like every person, every family contains contradictions, oppositions. Think of the generally quiet, sober couple who produce a jokester or chatterbox. Or the child who in church looks past her brothers’ and sisters’ bowed heads, searching for fellow doubters. Such contradictions may develop into deep conflicts or become a source of wonder, even pride. Either way, they can be a powerful force; that’s just one truth examined in Nan Cuba’s sweeping, carefully observed début novel, Body and Bread.

At the heart of the novel is the relationship between Sarah Pelton and her brother Sam, whose suicide, in his mid-twenties, changes the course of Sarah’s life. Through flashbacks, we see Sarah and Sam coming of age in the fictional town of Nugent, Texas, in the late fifties to early seventies. Unlike the other Peltons, they seem driven to make a break from family expectations and traditions. The family patriarch, Owen, is a man who, in Sam’s words, has a “rulebook in his head. …

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Beautiful Garbage

Beautiful Garbage

In this unflinching and perceptive début novel, Jill Di Donato describes one young sculptor’s struggle to rise above the din of the 1980s art world and to discover her true voice. In the process, she finds herself confronting past wrongs—both those she committed and those committed against her.

Though Beautiful Garbage makes for a good summer read, it’s not a light one—and to my mind that’s only a good thing. This novel won’t let you off the hook easily, intellectually or emotionally.

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Apology

Apology

In its most potent forms, guilt can have a lasting and powerful hold on us, sometimes altering the course of our lives. Apology, Jon Pineda’s début novel, offers a heartfelt study of these effects, and of what is gained and lost when painful truths are kept secret.

At the beginning of the novel, nine-year-old Teagan Serafino suffers a brain injury when her brother’s friend Mario Guzman dares her to jump over a pit at a construction site. As Teagan makes the jump, Mario throws a football at her, causing her to fall into the pit. Mario runs from the scene of the accident, leaving his Uncle Exequiel, nicknamed Shoe, to discover Teagan when he shows up for work at the site. When Shoe finds the football, labeled with Mario’s name, by Teagan, he removes it and makes an anonymous call about the incident to the construction company.

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