The Prospect of Magic by M. O. Walsh
Picked up this little gem at Square Books in Oxford, MS. Walsh graduated from the Ole Miss MFA program and this collection of short stories won the fifth Tartt Fiction Award, awarded for an outstanding collection of stories from a previously unpublished author.
The owner and ringmaster of the Ploofop Travelling Carnival drops dead in Fluker, Louisiana. Suddenly free, the carnies decide to settle down in Fluker and are welcomed by the townspeople. This collection of ten short stories explores the relationships of the townspeople and the carnies. My favorites were:
“Dream Tow” in which a couple reevaluates their lives and their marriage in light of the futures foretold by the carnival machine that reads your DNA and tells you what your potential is.
“Nightrise” in which girl who has a one-night stand with a carnival barker in Tennessee tracks him down at his job as a car salesman in Fluker.
“The Ploofop Refugees” which closes the collection with Margo, the fortune teller, who reminds her husband that minds and machines can be read and toyed with, but the heart is true.
The stories all stand nicely alone, but together they paint a terrific picture of what sets people free and apart, and what can pull them together.
I have a bit of an indie bookstore fetish. My inlaws just shake their head at me as I never can resist going into bookstores and almost always buy something. I mean, I work in a bookstore and get a very nice discount – don’t I get enough of bookstores? The answer is, of course, No. I love pretty much everything about Square Books (and Square Books, Jr and Off The Square Books), but especially I love the READ Poster with Elvis that they have hanging upstairs. It makes me happy. Prospect of Magic was a wonderful find that I probably wouldn’t have found anywhere else, it was written up in the local authors section of their newsletter and they had plenty in stock since Walsh was going to be there for a signing.
And speaking of indie bookstores, have to share this webcomic that daughter #1 pointed out to me today: http://www.asofterworld.com/index.php?id=571