258 pages, $20
Samuel E. Cole’s first collection of short stories provides all the hilarity, all the pathos, and all the passion readers of his poetry have come to expect. Bloodwork is full of strange, fascinating characters doing strange, fascinating things with and to one another, portrayed in energetic, polished prose.
Harold buys a framed photograph of a lighthouse, unintentionally undermining the foundation his wife, Hannah, has come to expect. Implication explodes into battle for one man waiting for an HIV test result, as it does for five girls talking boys, nicknames, and sex at a slumber party. What’s forbidden and out of reach comes into plain sight when Lanny decides to climb the farmyard silo. A male bulimic catches his reflection in a toilet bowl and begins to question the idea of recovery. A mother and daughter, void of money, fill a grocery cart and plan their getaway. A little boy watches his father make a table for a governor. Preacher Victoria preaches until reality steals her voice.
At its heart, Bloodwork seeks to find inroads of belonging on a fitful path scattered with (dis)entanglements.