A Lebanese housewife, a former horror-film maker, and a cantankerous Russian librarian are among the inhabitants of the offbeat world found in this impressive debut collection. Stacy Tintocalis’s stories take us from a defunct women’s shelter off a Missouri country road to the streets of low-income Hollywood, where her characters yearn for the love that is always just out of reach.
The title story explores the conflicted emotions an adolescent boy feels toward a father who obsessively returns to his childhood home. In “Too Bad about Howie,” a divorced poet finds comfort in stolen moments with his ex-wife’s dog. Despite their longing for connection, these characters are victims of their own foibles, trapped in terrifying moments of psychic violence that risk driving away the very people they love.