Jeremy T. Wilson, Tortoise Books (OCTOBER) Softcover $15.99 (246pp), 978-1-948954-01-3
The characters in Jeremy T. Wilson’s excellent short story collection Adult Teeth are all facing significant life changes, and the outcomes are consistently surprising, entertaining, and revealing.
In “It Don’t Get No Better Than This,” a high school baseball star, fresh off of winning the state championship in his small town, spends the night of his graduation party questioning whether he’s already peaked. His worries about the future— some as simple as whether he can shed his unflattering nickname—and his interactions with the people he might leave behind capture experiences of transition and uncertainty. “Florida Power and Light,” in which a retired man navigates romantic entanglements and the presence of alligators in his Florida neighborhood, takes a magical realism turn that’s both shocking and a natural fit with the rest of the piece.
“Everything is Going to Be Okay” focuses on a man awaiting the birth of his first child, his wife’s fears about the future, and his sister’s surprising choice to visit without notice and without telling her own husband and kids. Other stories involve paranoia about the possible purchase of a sex doll, a man’s inability to feel anything even at his own divorce party, and an attempt to repay a favor through the gift of a parrot.
Whether set in a small town in Georgia or in Chicago’s Humboldt Park neighborhood, the stories make good use of their locations. Descriptions are strong, and dialogue snappy. The book’s characters rarely find their situations resolved, but their circumstances are always interesting.
The twelve stories are all memorable on their own, but they also form a cohesive whole. Adult Teeth is a rare collection.