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Also of interest...in short fiction and essays

Vampires in the Lemon Groveby Karen Russell (Knopf, $25)A motley crew of characters act as a reader’s guides into the strange corners of Karen Russell’s singular imagination, said William Boyle in the Los Angeles Review of Books. Following up on her 2011 novel Swamplandia!, the author here introduces us to two vampires who’ve learned they’re not allergic to garlic, a scarecrow who’s pestering some bullies, and ex-presidents reincarnated as horses. Every page is “shot through with dizzying language,” and every character is funny—“man, are they funny.”

Nothing Gold Can Stayby Ron Rash (Ecco, $25)“Scenes of terrible violence and quiet beauty” share the spotlight in Ron Rash’s “masterful” stories about Appalachia, said Liz Cook in The Kansas City Star. The author sometimes gets so cynical that his characters become backwoods parodies, but Rash’s “razor-sharp feel” for the region’s landscape and speech rhythms helps bring many of these stories alive. In Rash’s world, there is a place for innocence and purity, but neither can last. As the title puts it, “Nothing gold can stay.”

I Want to Show You Moreby Jamie Quatro (Grove/Atlantic, $24)“In order to be good at big things, writers must be good at small ones,” said Dwight Garner in The New York Times. In Jamie Quatro’s debut set of stories, set largely in one Georgia town, the author’s deft use of details proves a chief delight. Quatro’s narrators, mostly women, are seeking escape or transcendence through religion, running, or infidelity. They’re strikingly open to new experience, and they do and say things that “made me laugh and gasp at the same time.” 

The Book of My Livesby Aleksandar Hemon (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $25)In an Aleksandar Hemon book, “every page releases fireflies,” said Mark Thompson in The Independent (U.K.). Hemon’s first essay collection finds the revered short-story writer exploring passages of his life that he’s visited in fiction—his youth in Sarajevo, displacement by war, and attachment to his adopted Chicago. He brings remarkable candor to discussing his two marriages and the death of a young daughter, and “his familiar wit and hangdog resilience combine beguilingly” throughout.

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