VERGE by Lidia Yuknavitch


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Characters from the fringes of society grapple with desire and fury in this collection of short stories.

Early on in “The Pull,” a story about a young swimmer from a war-torn country, the narrator describes her childhood as the “kind of story that makes your chest grow tight as you listen.” The stories here are exactly that kind: insistently visceral, pushing into, and past, the reader’s comfort zone. Many of the stories center erotic experiences. In “The Garden of Earthly Delights,” Bosch works in a modern-day fish processing plant, and he finds boundless pleasure in the arms of a young male co-worker. In “Cusp,” a teenage girl smuggles drugs into a local prison and shares her body with the prisoners as a way of being closer to her incarcerated brother. But if these stories teach us about lust, they also flip to the other side of that same coin: These are narratives full of deep rage. Some of this rage takes place inside of intimate relationships, as in “A Woman Signifying,” in which the protagonist deliberately burns her face against a radiator to create a “symbol” of her anger at her lover. Sometimes this rage is social, as in “Drive Through,” about an encounter with a panhandler at a McDonald’s drive-thru. Yuknavitch (The Misfit’s Manifesto, 2017, etc.) keeps readers’ heads pressed against what is hardest to see, and this doesn’t always land. Some of the rage can feel self-righteous; some of the desire pushes deep into taboo and veers toward unpalatable. But where there are risks, there are rewards, and these howls from the throats of women, queer characters, the impoverished, and the addicted remind us of the beauty and pain of our shared humanity.

Gutsy stories from one of our most fearless writers.

Pub Date: Feb. 4th, 2020
ISBN: 978-0-525-53487-7
Page count: 208pp
Publisher: Riverhead
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15th, 2019


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