House Gone Quiet: Stories

Scribner. Oct. 2023. 224p. ISBN 9781668016312. pap. $18. F
DEBUT Norris debuts with an eclectic collection of short stories, with settings that range from war-torn countries to small Southern American towns to salt basins in the middle of a drought-ridden desert. Many of the stories explore how big-picture issues like sexism and racism affect interpersonal relationships. This is sometimes handled more somberly, such as in “Go Way Back,” the closing story, which tells the journey of a biracial college girl visiting her white boyfriend’s family for the first time and, despite their welcoming attitudes, being unable to shake the present-day and historical anti-Black racism that surrounds their relationship. All of the stories focus on deep, introspective themes, but they are not without humor, such as in “Such Great Height and Consequence,” which focuses on the residents of a small town who start taking turns using the stone pedestal left behind when the statue of a Confederate general is removed; citizen’s activities on the pedestal include public sunbathing, gossip sessions, and even a much-needed nap.
VERDICT Linked by their surreal nature and strong sense of place, the works in Norris’ss book include both well-developed characters and strong settings. Recommended for most collections.
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