In this debut collection of short stories by Pushcart Prize-nominated author R.L. Maizes, characters are treated as outsiders because of their sexual orientation, racial or religious identity, or simply because they look different.
The attention-grabbing title isn't the only winning thing about R.L. Maizes' debut collection ... [there is a] quirky mix of humor, gravity and warmth that characterizes Maizes' stories ... Although Maizes' characters often behave in disturbing ways, she manages to tap into the twisted emotional logic of their conduct with uncommon understanding ... Maizes' admirable achievement in these charmingly offbeat stories is to balance fascination with sympathy and gravitas with humor. The good news: Her debut novel is due next year. But have fun with these first.
... has a few intriguing and promising entries, but ultimately doesn’t have much impact ... The subject matter is well worn ... The title story should feel current since it concerns a boy deciding to come out to his parents (and everyone else) at his bar mitzvah. But it comes off as almost old-fashioned, like something from an ’80s film, albeit the hope that the moment will generate a viral video ... More interesting are those stories that concern the supernatural ... Like seemingly every collection these days, most of these stories (eight out of 11 in this case) have already been published, online or in print, in various journals. This is not necessarily a problem, but it can become one when authors or publishers reach too far into the past for material. Two particularly old stories here (Couch from 2010 and L’Chaim from 2012) could have been omitted without readers missing out on anything ... Overall, this feels a bit like watching Maizes still trying to find her voice. Her first novel, which is due out next year, will hopefully more closely resemble her edgier work here.