Bad Kansas: Stories (Flannery O'Connor Award for Short Fiction #89) (Paperback)
Title: Bad Kansas: Stories
This is the best short story collection I've read in a very long time. Eleven stories that examine relationships and place and our places within relationships - you get the idea. Mandelbaum's writing is beautifully-wraught but not distracting from the stories. I finished this book and wanted to go back and read it over again. So I did. It was just as good the second time around - maybe better.
If you like your characters human and flawed, sometimes stuck in places they'd rather not be, and trying their hardest to figure out what they want, who they want to be, and how to get there, this collection is for you. Maybe twice.— From Virginia
The eleven beautifully crafted stories in Bad Kansas reveal the complicated underbelly of the country's most flown-over state and the quirky characters that call it home. In this darkly humorous collection, Kansas becomes a state of mind as Mandelbaum's characters struggle to define their relationship to home and what it means to stay or leave, to hold on or let go. When a desperate woman finds herself on a date with a rugged man she has nothing in common with, she must decide whether to sacrifice the life of a bear in order to keep the man's affection. After having a nightmare about a mallard, a young man wakes to discover he's choking the woman he loves. When his mother starts dating a slimy pizza parlor owner, a young boy must choose whether to align with his mischievous older brother or remain loyal to his mom. The deeply appealing and peculiar characters in Bad Kansas are determined to get what they want, be it love or sex or power, in a world intent on denying them.
About the Author
Becky Mandelbaum currently lives and works on a ranch in Colorado. She is the winner of the 2013 Lawrence Art Center's Langston Hughes Award for Fiction. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Great Jones Street, Salt Hill, Juked, South Dakota Review, Midwestern Gothic, McSweeney's Internet Tendency, and Kansas City Voices.