The Day of the Beheaded Barbie: Stories by Misty Urban
This collection of twelve contemporary short stories shows us characters in search of refuge, driven by grief and loss to find new heights of courage, depths of compassion, and imaginative escape from their circumstances. Full of disappearing children and surfacing secrets, fragile triumphs and imminent loss, these eloquent, haunting tales share themes of betrayal, rescue, and the places we seek shelter.
In the title story, “The Day of the Beheaded Barbie,” Melanie makes a shocking discovery about her vanished sister and the daughtershe left behind. The young wife in “Small Burials” tries to repair her marriage after a devastating miscarriage, while Doris in “Table for Four” struggles with the painful memories that a family of customers brings to her restaurant. Manya in “Gravel” finds her ex-boyfriend’s wife leaning on her for support after his death, and Mireya in “The Far Shore” believes she can bring her beloved brother out of his coma.
Whether their recourse is absurd—like Lonnie of “Married, Living in Italy” who’s made her family believe she moved to Florence—or desperate, like Stella in “Care of the Soul” who fled the country after her marriage collapsed—these characters are crushingly believable and utterly real in their defenses, their damage, their humor, and their sheer will as they turn suffering into salvation. This latest collection by an award-winning author whose work has been hailed as “exceptional,” “extraordinary,” “uncanny,” and “refreshing, compelling, and moving” continues the voice of a “great storyteller” who writes “almost unbearably lovely prose.”
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