University of North Texas Press

Katherine Anne Porter Prize in Short Fiction

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Katherine Anne Porter Prize in Short Fiction

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Wonderful Girl

Aimee La Brie

This extraordinary first collection of short stories covers the landscape of dysfunctional childhood, urban angst, and human disconnection with a wit and insight that keep you riveted to the page. The characters here have rich and imaginative interior lives, but grave difficulty relating to the outside world. The beginning story, "Ducklings," introduces the over-weight and over-enthusiastic Marjorie, the last twelve-year-old you would want babysitting your toddler. In "Wanted" we meet Eleanor, a single girl living in Chicago who may or may not be dating a serial killer. "Another Cancer Story" is an unsentimental account of two sisters whose beloved mother just won't seem to die, and "The Last Dead Boyfriend" gives us a recovering addict who keeps encountering her recently deceased boyfriend, an unpleasant man she wished she'd broken up with before he died. Always funny, often dark, and wholly satisfying, these stories explore the longing for connection among characters who are frequently stricken with anxiety. Each story is rendered in a way that is surreal, vivid, and entirely convincing. "Wonderful Girl is a smart, funny collection, by turns poignant, mysterious, terrifying, sexy, often just plain nuts (in a good way!). The characters in these stories are deliciously confused but always in control, if not of their fates, at least of their pets and boyfriends. What strong voices these women have! Contemporary American life has never seemed so threatening and yet so warm, so full of possibility, yet so harrowing. Reading Wonderful Girl is like meeting a dozen new friends, people you instantly fret over, want to know better, want to call and give advice, bring home to meet your folks, people you ultimately love." --Bill Roorbach, judge and author of The Smallest Color, Big Bend, and Temple Stream

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The Year of Perfect Happiness

Becky Adnot-Haynes

The sharp-witted stories in Becky Adnot-Haynes' debut collection explore the secret lives of people--how they deal with the parts of themselves that they choose not to share with their closest confidants--and with the world. A pole-vaulter practices his sport only before dawn. A recently divorced woman signs up for a hallucinogenic drug excursion in the Arizona desert. An uncertain girlfriend goes out into the world wearing a false pregnancy belly. In The Year of Perfect Happiness, the universe is recognizable but slightly askew, a world whose corners can be peeled back to reveal the strange and often comic outcomes of acting out your most self-destructive desires. "In The Year of Perfect Happiness, Becky Adnot-Haynes puts her smart and funny prose to expert use, patiently delving the radiant mysteries we keep from strangers, from ourselves, from the people we love the most: Our joys and sorrows, our hidden hurts and unforgettable mistakes and untellable secrets, secrets which Adnot-Haynes' excellent stories suggest we want only to be forced to share, craving the moment when we're at last revealed in all our imperfect but stunning humanity."--Matt Bell, author of In the House upon the Dirt between the Lake and the Woods and judge

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