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Fresh Fiction from Gilbert Allen

Guest Post by Elizabeth Genovise

If you’re hunting for some fresh fiction from a small press, check out Gilbert Allen’s newest book, The Beasts of Belladonna. This book features fifteen linked tales of quirky characters in a South Carolina foothills community. Expect the unexpected in these unsettling yet often hilarious stories, in which characters rub up against their own failures, yearnings, and secrets.

A minister nails a bird to a couple’s front door; a woman accidentally kills her cat and finds an unconventional way to grieve its loss; a man’s foxy neighbor goes to outrageous lengths to destroy his marriage. Domestic animals have a hefty influence on these people’s lives, sometimes comical and sometimes tragic; the same could be said about church as we’re introduced to the Mosquito Ministry, the Faster Pastor Challenge, and couples who pass witty notes during sermons. We meet “treenappers,” a Grandfather Against Garbage, and a character known as the Jesus of Malibu, and in these encounters are powerful flashes of raw humanity in all its complexity.

The Beasts of Belladonna by Gilbert Allen. Slant Books, October 2020.

Reviewer bio: Elizabeth Genovise is an MFA graduate from McNeese State University and the author of three short story collections, the most recent being Posing Nude for the Saints from the Texas Review Press. https://www.elizabethgenovisefiction.org/

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