Large Animals in Everyday Life

Stories by Wendy Brenner

Mysterious messages of survival in everyday life


"Large Animals in Everyday Life is worthy of a prize named for Flannery O'Connor. Like that of her benefactress, Brenner's work is disturbed, taut, funny, and wise. Better than that, it's good."
—Padgett Powell, author of Typical

"The characters in Brenner's sharp, witty debut story collection—winner of the Flannery O'Connor Award for Short Fiction—come out springing, with voices as stimulating as a blast of cold air in the freezer aisle of a Winn-Dixie. . . . Chock-full of pitch-perfect dialogue and dead-on descriptions. Brenner's stories, intoxicatingly original, are precise life studies that linger uncannily in the upper right-hand corner of the mind."
Publishers Weekly

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The eleven stories in Wendy Brenner's debut story collection concern people who are alone or feel themselves to be alone: survivors negotiating between logic and faith who look for mysterious messages and connections in everyday life, those sudden transformations and small miracles that occur in mundane, even absurd settings.

Brenner's stories range in setting from the rural and southern (a rotating country music bar, a dog track/jai alai compound, a grocery store, a natural cold springs sinkhole) to the urban and high-tech (absurdly bureaucratic companies and academic departments and a food irradiation plant). Often young and tough women seeking to hone their survival sensibilities, Brenner's characters are a mix of the everyday and the fantastic: frustrated secretaries and scientists, a young supermodel, precocious children, fierce plumbers and mechanics, a psychic grandmother, an unhappy lottery winner, a desperate grocery-store mascot in an animal suit. And then there are the animals—real ones of all kinds who turn up at unlikely moments and often seem to be trying to help.

Flannery O'Connor Award for Short Fiction

Page count: 168 pp.
Trim size: 5.5 x 8.5


List price: $19.95

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Wendy Brenner is the author of the short story collection Phone Calls from the Dead. Her stories and essays have appeared in Seventeen, Allure, Oxford American, Best American Magazine Writing, and other publications. She teaches creative writing at the University of North Carolina-Wilmington.