Books by Laura Chester

<< Rancho Weirdo | Review republished from Kirkus Discoveries

Chester, Laura
RANCHO WEIRDO
Bootstrap Press (216 pp.)
$18.00 paperback
September 15, 2008
ISBN: 978-09779975-9-6

In her latest, Chester (Marvel the Marvelous, 2008, etc.) bursts forth on the page with 17 unpredictably fresh short stories.

An American Indian ghost called Grit inhabits a new home in the Southwest. A monster named Toy pours forth a stream-of-consciousness confession. A tomboy’s husband dumps her for another man. From Paris to Milwaukee to the Mexican border, Chester’s stories range widely not only in locales but across a literary geography of shifting insights, both irreverent and critical. The author’s domain is relationships, and the heart of her style lies in the candor of her characters, who reveal themselves effortlessly while thinking out loud. For example, in “The Art of Kissing,” a single mother of two boys in New Orleans holds a secret passion for her parish priest. Now, three years after a disastrous marriage to an abusive alcoholic, she finds herself attracted to a man sworn to celibacy, creating a haven where desire can again be felt, yet behind a safe, noncommittal curtain where a serious relationship with all the risks can never materialize. In “The Trap,” a woman toils with jealousy, laying traps to catch her infidel lovers who she’s hopelessly attracted to, ultimately caught in a trap of her own design. With vibrant, even sassy language that cajoles and swings, the stories dance along to unknown destinations, each as deliciously complete as the next. Switching up between first-person narrative, experimental writing, even shifting narrative monologues, Chester’s many voices are natural and convincing. The stories are accompanied by the simple, surrealist sketches and mixed-media art of Haeri Yoo, a rising star whose work ranges from the bizarre to the gritty, the erotic to the preternatural; they provide the perfect accompaniment to this book.

A masterful collection of new work from a time-tested author.