This Day in History by Anthony Varallo
(Iowa Short Fiction Award)

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On the verge of maturity--where parents are distant or absent, friendships are often more accidental than deliberate, and restless angst is common--Anthony Varallo's adolescent protagonists dissect the world, and their place in it, with keen perception. This Day in History deftly collects their moments of discovery. “There's a feeling I get whenever I enter an unfamiliar house, as if a secret inventory has been handed to me, and I am made to understand that the sofa cushions are stained underneath, the coffee table nursing one gimp leg, the books along the bookcase stolen from summer rental, and the dining room table used only for Christmas and taxes,” the narrator confesses in the first of Varallo's twelve stories. Here, a birthday party for an unpopular classmate reveals an adult world both familiar and utterly strange. In subsequent stories a young girl longs to be a part of her best friend's family, only to discover the family is less than ideal; two sisters recall the childhood houses they grew up--and apart--in, places inseparable from each woman's notion of the other; and a mother and son set off on a bold and hopeless errand, their suburban neighborhood momentarily transformed into a stage.As these children stand on the brink of adulthood, unsure how to move forward, striving to make sense of the world around them, they often discover that the distance between themselves and others is no nearly so great as first imagined. Funny, sad, and hopeful, Varallo's stories make a gentle argument for connection and community and, in doing so, seek to extend our sympathy toward the world.

About Anthony Varallo

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A graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop, Anthony Varallo grew up in Yorklyn, Delaware. His stories have appeared in Epoch, Crazyhorse, Story Quarterly, the Black Warrior Review, and other publications. He is the recipient of an AWP Intro Journals Award, the Crazyhorse Fiction Prize, the Journal Short Story Prize, and an NEA Fellowship in Literature. He lives with his wife, the writer Malinda McCollum, and their son in Charleston, South Carolina, where he is an assistant professor of English at the College of Charleston.
Published September 1, 2009 by University Of Iowa Press. 180 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction. Fiction

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