Alissa Nutting, the debut author of "Unclean Jobs for Women and Girls" (2010), winner of the 6th annual Starcherone Fiction Prize selected by Ben Markus, returns to Buffalo for the Starcherone Books Summer Solstice Celebration and benefit reading to support the Buffalo-based publisher of innovative fiction from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Thursday at Indigo Gallery, 74 Allen St. in Buffalo. Admission is $25, and includes a reception to follow the reading.
Nutting's story "Model's Assistant," from that prize-winning collection has recently been selected for inclusion in the next Norton Introduction to Literature anthology, to be released in 2013. A rural Michigan native, who received her undergraduate degree from the University of Florida, MFA in creative writing from the University of Alabama, and Ph.D. in English at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, she is Assistant Professor of Creative Writing at John Carroll University and a contributor to the New York Times’ “Opinionator” blog.
In our review of "Unclean Jobs for Women and Girls" in this space two years ago, we noted:
"Each of these surreal tales is a first-person account of a particular woman in extremis, a kind of existential peril that is as much a product of language and the imagination as it is circumstances in some possible world. Some of the stories are set in a science-fiction evoking future where mother-daughter relations are still as distressingly contentious as in our more earthbound memoirs. Others move along at the pace of a stroll through a carnival sideshow, or a quick peak inside the waiting room of the world's most overbooked occupational therapist's practice.
While not necessarily fettered by the laws of the physical universe, they cohere in the psychological and emotional sense that fairy tales and fabulist fiction does. Never is the narrative development purely metonymic or governed formalist logic of the New Sentence.
All the stories bear a certain disposition toward the grotesque, but unlike many male authors who've visited the same psychic territory -- Dante, Poe, and Kafka spring readily to mind, though one might consider a postmodern like Mark Leyner as well -- Nutting's greatest talent as a narrative artist appears not to be in making the familiar seem grotesque, but rather in so fully and empathically incorporating the somatic details of the grotesque as to make them seem comfortingly familiar, almost matter-of-fact...