Timothy Schaffert has created his most memorable character yet in Essie, an octogenarian obituary writer for her family’s small town newspaper. When a young country girl is reported to be missing, perhaps whisked away by an itinerant aerial photographer, Essie stumbles onto the story of her life. Or, it all could be simply a hoax, or a delusion, the child and child-thief invented from the desperate imagination of a lonely, lovelorn woman.
In a topsy-turvy ragtime era of side-shows and bamboozlers, Irish Maupin goes from street urchin to burlesque star. Plucked from the streets as a girl and fattened up for candy-factory advertising, she navigates a sensational career around heart-break and loneliness, gaining and losing hundreds of pounds, manipulated by the men around her even as she defies them.
A blithe and redemptive seriocomic love story filled with country music, the ghosts of Halloween, and an ironic brand of down-home religion. Newly divorced and feeling the pain of separation from his family, Hud Smith channels his regret into writing country-western songs, contemplating life on the lam with his 8-year-old daughter, and searching cryptic postcards for news of his teenage son who has run off with The Daughters of God, an alternative Gospel-punk band of growing fame. Then he finds himself inching toward reconciliation with his ex, tossing his whole talent for misery into question as they head off in a borrowed school bus, hoping so very tentatively to bring the entire family together again.