When Jill McCorkle feels a short story coming on, she goes right ahead and "wastes" wonderful ideas instead of hoarding them for a novel. The result is another extraordinary collection of stories and characters. In "It's a Funeral! RSVP," the storyteller is a woman who takes up self-styled "careers" that suit her circumstances. Now she's stumbled onto one that's so successful that she just can't quit. It's planning funerals, what she calls Going Out Parties, in which the clients are the soon-to-be-deceased themselves. In "Life Prerecorded," perhaps McCorkle's finest short piece to date, the pregnant narrator finds the real meaning of new life by visiting with a very old neighbor who's waiting, too, for his own new life. In these and the rest of the nine stories, Jill McCorkle acts on her penchant for taming the outrageous, humanizing the forbidden, and grounding the hilarious.read more
Jill McCorkle is the author of nine previous books—four story collections and five novels—five of which have been selected as New York Times Notable Books. The recipient of the New England Book Award, the John Dos Passos Prize for Excellence in Literature, and the North Carolina Prize for Literature, she teaches writing at North Carolina State University and lives in Hillsborough, North Carolina. Visit her online at www.jillmccorkle.com.read more
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Whether she's telling the story of a woman who throws funerals for people before they're dead or of a music-store employee who can't reconcile himself to the fact that records are extinct, McCorkle (Carolina Moon) manages to make the reader feel like an old friend sitting with her around the kitchen table gossiping about the neighbors. This collection of nine stories is chock full of New South eccentrics, comic moments and perplexing situations. McCorkle's characters grapple with failed romances, temptation and deathbed injunctions. In "Your Husband Is Cheating on Us," a disgruntled mistress confronts her lover's wife to tell her that her spouse is now double-crossing both of them with a floozy who works at Blockbuster. The mistress confesses that she's not the type of person "who could like have one cookie at a time." Her rant is a hilarious monologue; like most of these tales, it has a vaguely tragic undertone as well. McCorkle's account of a minister longing for true love in "The Anatomy of Man" is especially touching, particularly when he reveals a fantasy in which a woman in the congregation, wearing a white bikini and red toenail polish, steps into the baptismal font with him. "Surely everyone has a fantasy," he muses. At their funniest and most poignant, McCorkle's stories plunge into her characters' souls and mine the truths about them they themselves can't admit and can't help revealing. (June) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved