Baby, You're Gonna Be Mine

Like his breakout novel The Family Fang, Kevin Wilson's short story collection Baby, You're Gonna Be Mine is entertainingly odd, highlights the complex relationships between parents and children and is populated by adults who don't seem fully grown and push back against the responsibilities of their age. In "Sanders for a Night," a young boy wishes to dress as his late brother for Halloween, against his mother's wishes. "Housewarming" follows a man who's called to remove a deer from the pond near his son's new home. "A Signal to the Faithful" is about an altar server who faints during Mass, and an awkward road trip with a chain-smoking priest.
These 10 stories don't wrap up neatly or offer easy answers, but stay in one's mind long after reading. Wilson's characters are by turns earnest, sardonic and misguided, and he presents them without judgment. His stories are bizarre, but only enough to highlight the weirdness in everyday life. That mild strangeness and his voice-driven prose make the pieces highly entertaining, but there's a core of darkness within each, showing that ennui isn't limited by age. In "A Signal to the Faithful," Wilson writes, "Was this life, Edwin wondered, the constant betrayal by your body, the ceaseless withstanding of embarrassment?" Here, Wilson has accomplished something surprising and powerful: an enjoyable read that is also deeply sad. --Katy Hershberger, freelance writer and bookseller
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