With Folk Songs for Trauma Surgeons, award-winning author Keith Rosson once again delves into notions of family, identity, indebtedness, loss, and hope, with the surefooted merging of literary fiction and magical realism he's explored in previous novels. In "Dunsmuir," a newly sober husband buys a hearse to help his wife spread her sister's ashes, while "The Lesser Horsemen" illustrates what happens when God instructs the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse to go on a team-building cruise as a way of boosting their frayed morale. In "Brad Benske and the Hand of Light," an estranged husband seeks his wife's whereabouts through a fortuneteller after she absconds with a cult, and the returning soldier in "Homecoming" navigates the strange and ghostly confines of his hometown, as well as the boundaries of his own grief. With grace, imagination, and a brazen gallows humor, Folk Songs for Trauma Surgeons merges the fantastic and the everyday, and includes new work as well as award-winning favorites.
With this excellent collection of 15 jagged, fragmented pieces, dark fantasist Rosson (The Mercy of the Tide) subverts expectations and challenges his characters and his readers alike to second-guess their preconceptions. Evil is just as likely to spring from daily life as to lunge out of the supernatural in these disquieting tales. "Gifts," a lacerating story of urban insurrection, feels firmly rooted in reality, except that some combatants are described in passing as "magicians." The premises often look like very dark Monty Python sketches. What happens, for example, in "Baby Jill," when the Tooth Fairy stops merely collecting teeth and begins worrying about the welfare of the children she visits? And, in "Yes, We Are Duly Concerned with Calamitous Events," how quickly will social norms devolve among a group of office workers who become trapped in their building for weeks? No one is safe, not even the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, who appear in "The Lesser Horsemen" as God decides to modernize. These powerful stories will leave readers unsettled in the best ways.