Mannequin and Wife
210 Pages / 5.50 x 8.50 x 0.50 in
- Paperback /
- 9780807173916 /
- Published: September 2020
- eBook /
- 9780807174142 /
- Published: September 2020
Winner of the Phillip H. McMath Award for prose.
In Mannequin and Wife, the debut story collection from Jen Fawkes, sharp and imaginative tales trip seamlessly across borderlands, navigating comedy and tragedy, psychological and magical realism, the mundane and the marvelous.
Readers of these adventurous fictions will encounter a flock of stenographers, the strongest woman alive, a taxidermist with anger issues, an Elephant Girl, a fairy on her lunch break, and a married couple who live with a department store mannequin. Elsewhere, an American actor impersonates a code-breaking Britisher during World War II. A mother awaiting her son’s return discovers his personal ad soliciting the services of a cannibal (and fears the worst). A criminal mastermind’s protégé plots the destruction of Mount Rushmore from within an extinct volcano. A man buys a drive-in theater and transforms it into a carnival sideshow. And an attorney puzzles over how to leave someone his deceased client’s heart.
Fawkes’s award-winning stories examine the vagaries of human relationships—mother and child, husband and wife, mentor and protégé—to tease out the startling complications that arise from our entanglements with those we loathe and those we love.
The stories in Mannequin and Wife are lapel-grabbers, brimming with urgency and conviction. They are also deeply imagined, elegantly constructed, and emotionally rich. Jen Fawkes is a lively and most convincing storyteller, and her debut deserves attention. ~Chris Bachelder, author of "The Throwback Special," finalist for the National Book Award
Mannequin and Wife is magical in every sense of the word. These stories are eerie, funny, sharp, strange, devastating, joyous, brilliant—larger than life. I loved each one so much I never wanted it to end, until the next one started. A bravura debut from a bold new talent. ~Clare Beams, author of "The Illness Lesson"
The stories in Mannequin and Wife have the blaze of immediacy about them, like creatures from some other plane of reality who have broken temporarily and all at once into being, displaying the whole of their life in a single burst. It's not a matter of length, this immediacy, but of attitude, receptivity. How fortunate for us that Jen Fawkes has her eyes open wide, trained in just the right direction to see the things that no one else is seeing. ~Kevin Brockmeier, author of "The Brief History of the Dead"
These stories are deep dives into dark waters, full of both treachery and beauty. Jen Fawkes has a boundless imagination, and these stories, full of ghosts, carnival performers, murderers, seekers, lovers, and even talking piñatas, surprise and enchant. ~Caitlin Horrocks, author of "The Vexations" and "This Is Not Your City"
Decidedly weird things happen in this distinctive first collection from four-time Pushcart nominee Fawkes . . . Both creepy and surreal, these stories can also be poignant, and if the occasional tale feels sketchy—we want more about the doughty girl who can bring her sawhorses alive, even if she must recombine them after they're chopped up by an abuser—this is a writer to watch. VERDICT: Good reading, especially for fans of the fantastical. ~Library Journal
Mannequin and Wife is a brilliant debut, constantly surprising and simply beautifully crafted. ~David Gutowski, "Largehearted Boy"
When reading [Jen] Fawkes, writers like Amy Hempel and Kelly Link come to mind, yet her style is completely her own. Haunted by war, memory and lost love, the ghosts of past lives figure heavily in Fawkes’s stories. Each one is touched with originality, leading us through door after door, where what we think to be true is no longer, and our sense of place becomes distorted. ~Patrick Dacey, "Style Weekly"
This collection is richly imagined, featuring stories about circus performers and twins. Fawkes has structured this collection, lengthier than the average debut, with a mix of long and short stories, all of which show her range as a writer. An engaging book by an accomplished writer. ~Wendy J. Fox, "Buzzfeed"
There are many conventional ways to describe this most unconventional collection; Fawkes plays with magical realism, hard-boiled noir, speculative fiction and housewife erotica with a feminist twist. There is a grounded understanding of human nature and the entanglements inherent in living in a mad society here — Fawkes writes with empathy and bemusement and a kind of technical ruthlessness that suggests acres of fresh graves of murdered darlings. ~Philip Martin, "Arkansas Democrat-Gazette"
Throughout the book, Fawkes instills a dreamy and offbeat tone that feels extraordinary in its exploration of normalcy. Each story is unique and vastly different than the one that comes before it, and the entire collection flourishes off Fawkes’ ability to create character-driven plots—no matter how unconventional these characters may be. She brings humanity to even the most un-relatable characters, even in pieces spanning less than two pages. ~Hannah Robinson, "Miracle Monocle"