By Mark Brazaitis , Read by William Coon Length: 8 hours, 2 min[Unabridged]
In his latest collection of literary fiction, Mark Brazaitis evokes with sympathy, insight, and humor the lives of characters in a small Ohio town. The ten short stories of The Incurables limn the mental landscape of people facing conditions they believe are insolvable, from the oppressive horrors of mental illness to the beguiling and baffling complexities of romantic and familial love.
In the book’s opening story, “The Bridge,” a new sheriff must confront a suicide epidemic as well as his own deteriorating mental health. In “Classmates,” a man sets off to visit the wife of a classmate who has killed himself. Is he hoping to write a story about his classmate or to observe the aftermath of what his own suicide attempt, if successful, would have been like? In the title story, a down-on-his-luck porn actor returns to his hometown and winds up in the mental health ward of the local hospital, where he meets a captivating woman.
Other stories in the collection include “A Map of the Forbidden,” about a straight-laced man who is tempted to cheat on his wife after his adulterous father dies, and “The Boy Behind the Tree,” about a problematic father-son relationship made more so by the arrival on the scene of a young man the son’s age. In “I Return,” a father narrates a story from the afterlife, discovering as he does so that he is not as indispensable to his family as he had believed.
Praise for The Incurables
The figures at the centre of Brazaitis’s narratives are sometimes lonely or needy or deluded in the extreme; furthermore, their conditions are often contagious, hereditary or irremediable. But laughter is a refuge or a tonic for almost all of them, and even the most agonizing stories in The Incurables are funny . . . [D]eserves a lasting place among regional story cycles… — Times Literary Supplement
The stories in The Incurables are superb. — Mid-American Review
In the first story of this collection, the wife of a newly elected sheriff, who is suddenly thrust into a rash of suicides, says, ‘It’s like a plague of irrationality.’ That phrase describes many of the incidents in this series of stories, set in Sherman, Ohio. Subjects and themes are dark: divorce, suicide, depression, insanity; the tone and style are not. The author’s bizarre humor and the outrageous plot elements and attitudes about the vagaries of human nature lighten the mood considerably. . . . A fine addition to large short story collections. — Booklist Online
There are ten stories in this immensely enjoyable collection, all set in small town Sherman, Ohio. The provincialism creates the allure, with characters who have little experience beyond their locale, but whose struggles are like the many beyond its boundaries. That’s especially true when it comes to mental illness and emotionally driven behaviors. If you’re depressed, obsessive, delusional or struggling with anger–as are these characters–it doesn’t matter where you live. — TheLongestChapter.com
About Mark Brazaitis
Mark Brazaitis has published four collections of stories, two novels, and a volume of poetry. His award-winning short stories have appeared in Ploughshares, Witness, The Sun, Cimarron Review, and Confrontation, among other publications, and have been cited in the Pushcart Prize annual and Best American Short Stories volumes. Brazaitis is the director of the West Virginia Writers’ Workshop at West Virginia University.