Mapping stories set in Europe and America, The Dead Still Here skillfully paces through eleven short stories about friends-with-benefits typed relationships, vicious divorces and thievery, the loss of a child, the loss of a mother, and the Coast Guard and the Navy rescuing refugees from a bad storm at sea. Laura Valeri writes one single breathtaking sentence about sex, Dear John emails, and Christmas presents in “Liabilities of a Love Misguided” and vividly recreates that sharp sense of self-consciousness in “What They Know.” Along with characters that are irrevocably locked in their heads, Valeri includes a guide on how to take medication in “Prescription for Life,” which subtly points to the other hallucinatory narratives. This collection is at once provocative and lucid, and it offers various angles of characters looking for a relationship to hold.
An epic story-cycle about three generations of Italian women haunted by the shadows of World War II. With love, loyalty, and with faith in magic, a widow and her daughter attempt to survive poverty and the political chaos that seizes their country in spasms through the 1970s, until the violence of the Years of Lead forces them to move across the Atlantic. In America, they attempt to rebuild their lives, but the widow’s granddaughter discovers that safety is an illusion and no one can outrun the long reach of war. Includes traditional recipes and magic spells.
From the Anglo-American woman who makes a spectacle of herself trying to be Cuban in Miami to the estranged son leading his father on a hostile hike in New Mexico, Valeri’s characters carry a heavy load of desire and anger. Proud, loud, and hungry for whatever comes next, each person desperately searches for an understanding that lessens his or her burden. The saints here are pure only in their anger, desperation, and desire to be loved, holy only in their quest to keep going.