In this collection of 14 short stories, Professor of English Chris Fink gives readers a cast of memorable characters navigating their lives in vivid settings ranging from the wilds of New Zealand to an Arizona mobile home park beset by cats wailing in the dark of night. Featuring mostly male characters in places and situations that are bewildering, they grapple with the passage of time, their place in the world, and their own idea of themselves in the locales where they’ve landed.
In one story titled “Cubness,” five guys whose high school baseball team glory days are long behind them continue to enact a ritual of heavy drinking and male bonding during treks from the Midwestern farmlands to Chicago to watch the Cubs play ball. Although their expectations for the team are low, “Hey, anyone can have a bad century,” one character says about the team, their internal musings are perhaps even lower and sometimes darkly funny and revealing.
Christine Sneed of The National Book Review writes in a review that, “… Fink has offered us a virtuoso collection in which he addresses with unflinching insight, humor, and empathy his characters’ complicated interior lives, which so often are a welter of confusion and misguided love.” Fink is also the editor of the Beloit Fiction Journal. His first work of fiction, Farmer’s Almanac, was published in 2013.