In Ann Harleman's remarkable debut collection, men and women of extraordinary passions look for and sometimes find the hidden heart of ordinary life. Testing themselves and each other, they search for ways to connect. "Understanding", says the troubled voyeur-narrator of "Imaginary Colors" is "the booby prize" these characters go for experience. Reckless explorers of inner space, they try the limits of their lives.
Harleman combines a clear eye with a generous heart, revealing her characters - misguided, selfish, loving, brave - through a compassionate, often humorous probing of their inner and outer worlds.
The supple language of these twelve stories - wise, funny, delighting in the sensuous - makes us feel the beauty and terror of a fully lived life. Harleman's characters, whether they succeed or fail, show us the way to a deeper exploration of our own lives.
The book is published by University of Iowa Press.
John Simmons Short Fiction Award