Tim Wenzell’s Velvet Shipwrecks is a collection of short stories characterized by the unexpected detour, the stops along a narrative way that take the reader into a marginal America, where surprises happen and are cast in a dark humor that paradoxically lights our way. Consider “Check Point,” where the entire Wolrath family is arrested for drunkenness—including a sixteen-year-old son “was fed sips of wine in the middle of the fair grounds for five hours by his mother” and “Annie, barely ten,” who kicked the officer’s shins as the father, sober, attempted to pass his sobriety test. Consider, too, the dark “Downstream,” and the funeral of the narrator’s brother—shot in the head by a man wearing steel-toed boots. Or consider “Fingerlina,” the story of a badly-sewn, “lesser sister” of Thumbelina—the “ugly doll who repulsed even the toads and the moles and the beetles,” who would “learn to drive a Tonka truck and run Thumbelina over.” Indeed, the Wenzell’s stories are moody and uneasy, but they are simultaneously delightful.
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Published by Stephen F. Austin University Press