No Use Pretending: Stories by Thomas A. Dodson
Iowa Short Fiction Award
University of Iowa Press, October 2023
The stories in No Use Pretending by Thomas A. Dodson encompass diverse genres, from ecologically informed realism to a Kafkaesque fairy tale, from fabulist “weird fiction” to an episode from The Odyssey that becomes a meditation on what distinguishes human beings from animals. These stories invite the reader to reconsider moral and ideological certainties, to take a fresh look at such issues as fracking and drone warfare. In one story, a petroleum engineer discovers that one of his wastewater wells may be causing earthquakes, and in another, the pilot of an Air Force drone seeks to reconcile his conflicting roles as protector and executioner, husband and soldier. The scientist and the serviceman are both presented with problems that have no easy or obvious solutions, situations that force them to confront the messy, compromising complexity of being human.
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