From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Beautiful Ruins and The Cold Millions comes a stunning collection about those moments when everything changes — for the better, for the worse, for the outrageous — as a diverse cast of characters bounces from Italy to Idaho, questioning their roles in life and finding inspiration in the unlikeliest places.
We all live like we’re famous now, curating our social media presences, performing our identities, withholding those parts of ourselves we don’t want others to see. In this riveting collection of stories from acclaimed author Jess Walter, a teenage girl tries to live up to the image of her beautiful, missing mother. An elderly couple confronts the fiction writer eavesdropping on their conversation. A son must repeatedly come out to his senile father while looking for a place to care for the old man. A famous actor in recovery has a one-night stand with the world's most surprising film critic. And in the romantic title story, a shy twenty-one-year-old studying Latin in Rome during “the year of my reinvention” finds himself face-to-face with the Italian actress of his adolescent dreams.
Funny, poignant, and redemptive, this collection of short fiction offers a dazzling range of voices, backdrops, and situations. With his signature wit and bighearted approach to the darkest parts of humanity, Walter tackles the modern condition with a timeless touch, once again “solidifying his place in the contemporary canon as one of our most gifted builders of fictional worlds” (Esquire).
Jess Walter is the author of six novels, including the bestsellers Beautiful Ruins and The Financial Lives of the Poets, the National Book Award finalist The Zero, and Citizen Vince, the winner of the Edgar Award for best novel. His short fiction has appeared in Harper's, McSweeney's, and Playboy, as well as The Best American Short Stories and The Best American Nonrequired Reading. He lives in his hometown of Spokane, Washington.
Tom Barbash is the author of The Dakota Winters and the award-winning novel, The Last Good Chance, which was was awarded the California Book Award, and the short story collection Stay Up With Me, which was a national bestseller and was nominated for the Folio Prize. His nonfiction book, On Top of the World: Cantor Fitzgerald, Howard Lutnick, and 9/11: A Story of Loss and Renewal, was a New York Times bestseller. His stories and articles have been published in Tin House, McSweeney’s, VQR, and other publications, and have been performed on National Public Radio for their Selected Shorts Series. He currently teaches in the MFA program at California College of the Arts. He grew up on the Upper West Side of Manhattan and currently lives in Marin County.
Jess Walter photo courtesy of Rajah Bose; Tom Barbash photo courtesy of the author