Marzano-Lesnevich uses the great gift of empathy to explore her subject, instead of only relying on rhetorical flourishes. The facts in this work provide a vehicle for a deeper exploration of human emotion in the aftermath of an evil act—indignation, forgiveness, fear, resentment, understanding, etc.
Reading Ninety-nine Stories can be a disjointed, disorienting experience. It’s accessible, subdivided into bite-sized, fast stories that serve to chill or humor or unsettle. But these segments, extreme in their brevity and hyper-precise in their language, are often deliberately contradictory, confusing the book’s own ideas and the reader’s understanding.
What are you working on now?
I’m always working on a few projects at once so I never get bored. Lately I’ve been switching between novels and screenwriting. I have a series of Sci-Fi-ish books I’ve been writing for years about a cult in the Ozarks, along with a YA time travel book and a YA novel set in the grunge 90s. I’m also collaborating on a Sci-Fi script based on the Malaysian flight that disappeared and a TV pilot that reimagines Norman Mailer as a P.I. I also just finished a draft of a script set a hundred years in the future about a Trump-like villain as our President. Wait, did I say the future? I meant now.
Unferth is unable to write a boring sentence. She denies her creations cliché resolution, is resilient to heroic evolutions, permits no godly miracles. We anticipate these ill-fated characters will succumb to their predicted dead-ends, but Unferth time after time demonstrates a remarkable gift for conjuring the unforeseeable, and the restricted scopes of her worlds miraculously give birth to expansive possibilities and ambient revelations through a voice ignited by its own humanity.
They will see me. The cruiser’s tucked alongside a ridge of blasted granite that borders the inland side of the road. I wear a bug-eyed gunslinger’s mask of thick sunglasses complimented by my hat, dipped forwards ever so slightly. I sit not tense but hunkered down, ready, facing the direction of the Indiana border a little ways ahead.
I took care of Johnny’s horses. Johnny cared about them, and so he’d come and watch me, and it wasn’t possible for me not to imagine that he cared for me too. In part, at least, because we shared an object of affection. Perhaps love is always a three way—but the third must be an object. When another subject enters, that’s when the trouble . . . Of course horses are both . . .
Abeba, The African Giantess, stood on the crest of the hill watching The Great Petey Smith Circus carnies, performers, and mob of spectators swarm the square next to the town’s railroad tracks. Rain had pelted her tent in the dark hours, the thunderous hymn waking her up, but she knew then it wasn’t going to be no cleaning rain.
Whenever Rose closed her eyes she saw it. It greeted her when she lay down in bed each night to go to sleep, and at any time during the day when she wanted to rest her eyes. It was very big—hard to say how big because it was never next to anything. It was a rectangle of true black within the more hazy black of closed eyes.