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cover of Strange Attractors: The Ephrem Stories by Janice Deal

Strange Attractors: The Ephrem Stories, Fiction by Janice Deal

New Door Books, September 2023

In Janice Deal’s linked story collection, everyday people navigate the uncertainties of life in the American heartland, seeking order in chaos with a very human mix of resilience and folly.

At first glance, the fictional Ephrem, Illinois, seems a friendly, familiar town—it draws you right in, even if you don’t need supplies at the mall or a snack at Brat Station. But as you come closer, you discover people who are complex and unpredictable. Life itself is capricious, and loneliness can turn a person strange. Yet there’s much affection here, small and large examples of human kindness.

For years, Janice Deal has been publishing award-winning stories about Ephrem. (Reviewers have compared them to Anton Chekhov, Sherwood Anderson, and Flannery O’Connor.) Now assembled for the first time, these extraordinary tales offer a masterful snapshot of life in today’s small-town America.

Janice Deal is the author of a novel, The Sound of Rabbits, and a previous story collection, The Decline of Pigeons. Stories from Strange Attractors have won The Moth Short Story Prize and the Cagibi Macaron Prize. Janice has also received an Illinois Arts Council Artists Fellowship Award for prose.