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If you thought the suburbs were boring, think again. Kelly Fordon’s I Have the Answer artfully mixes the fabulist with the workaday and illuminates relationships and characters with crisp, elegant prose and dark wit. The stories in Fordon’s latest collection are disquieting, humorous, and thought-provoking. They might catch you off guard but are always infused with deep humanity and tenderness.
In these thirteen short stories, Fordon presents people dealing with the grayness of reality and longing for transcendence. Characters within these stories are often as surprised by their own behavior as that of their neighbors. In “Jungle Life,” the narrator attempts to clarify and document the stories of his father, a war veteran before he descends into dementia. In “Where’s the Baby?” a woman reflects on her difficult childhood as she grudgingly cares for her more successful, yet exasperating sister. In “In the Dog House,” a woman visits an estate sale and sifts through the layers of lifetimes past while grappling with her long-standing jealousy of a mysterious neighbor. In “The Shorebirds and The Shaman,” a woman who has just lost her husband winds up at a kooky weekend retreat role-playing her way out of debilitating grief.
Award-winning author Desiree Cooper has called the stories in I Have the Answer “pitch-perfect . . . Fordon takes us to the precipice where trauma and triumph are equal possibilities. The people in these stories are so hauntingly real that long after I put the book down, I found myself wondering what had become of them.” Readers of contemporary fiction and short stories will enjoy mulling over the complicated feelings this collection evokes.
Published by Wayne State University Press, April 2020.