Jeremy T. Wil­son, Tor­toise Books (OC­TO­BER) Soft­cover $15.99 (246pp), 978-1-948954-01-3

Foreword Reviews - - Spotlight | Debut Fiction - JEFF FLEISCHER

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.

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