2014 AAUP Public and Secondary School Library Selection
B. J. Hollars’s debut short story collection offers ten thematically linked tales, all of which are out to subvert conventional notions of the midwestern coming-of-age story. The stories feature an assemblage of Bigfoot believers, Civil War reenactors, misidentified Eskimos, and grief-stricken clowns, among other outcasts incapable of finding a place in their worlds. In these marvelous stories, we can join a family on a very 21st-century trip along the Oregon Trail, watch as a boy builds a brother from a vacuum cleaner, follow a sandlot baseball team as it struggles to overcome an invasion by its Native American neighbors, and experience how a high school basketball squad takes to Sasquatch roaming its court. This genre-bending collection charts a bizarre pathway through the thickets of life on the road to adulthood. Pushing the limits of realism, these stories capture the peculiar rites of passage of growing up midwestern.
|"All of these stories represent a talented tightrope walk between genres and a gentle lesson in craftsmanship for aspiring storytellers . . . An imaginatively sculpted collection of absurdist concepts applied liberally to the equally preposterous notion of growing up." —Kirkus Reviews
"This collection masterfully shares stories about coming of age in the Midwest and demonstrates the author's skill with well-crafted prose, true-to-life characters, and reflects on the time in one's life that is worth nostalgia, even with all its anguish and social dysfunction." —Los Angeles Review of Books
"Hollars provides plenty of material in these pages for both enjoyment and close reading." —The Show Me Librarian
"Like Bradbury, Hollars manages to invoke the sights, sounds, and smells of small town America through the eyes of his teenage heroes and with as much ease." —The Lit Pub
"The 10 stories in Sightings are all spins on classic 'coming-of-age' tales, and Hollars admits to a fascination with the genre. . . . Indeed, in every story Hollars finds a way to undercut the sentimentality that seems to be a staple of many coming of age stories, whether it’s by incorporating surreal elements in 'Sightings' and 'The Clowns,' or using an unreliable narrator to tell the story." —FortWayne Reader
"After reading a short story, my highest compliment is 'Damn I wish I’d have written that.' It must have sounded like a curse-fest took place in my house as I read B. J. Hollars’s hilarious Sightings, a collection of pitch-perfect stories. Fans of Kevin Wilson, Lewis Nordan, George Saunders, and Karen Russell need to add B. J. Hollars to their must-read list." —George Singleton, author of Stray Decorum
"In Sightings, B. J. Hollars brings us stories of those on the fringe but does so with an open-eyed awe that is missing from much of today's fiction. These aren't weathered, been-there, done-that, tales but fresh, exciting tales of those coming of age." —Dan Wickett, co-founder of Dzanc Books
"Each of the ten stories in B. J. Hollars's Sightings offers a rare combination of humor, insight, and coming-of-age heartbreak. Taken as a whole, the book left me awestruck, dazed, as if I'd just had my own face-to-face with Sasquatch." —Chad Simpson, author of Tell Everyone I Said Hi
"In these amazing stories, which are rife with savagely entertaining characters, the most exhilarating sighting of all is Hollars’s adept humor and impeccable prose, page after page. Readers indeed come away with the feeling of having had a true encounter with the fantastic—this unique collection, a bildungsroman at the intersection of private journal and urban legend, is not to be missed." —Alissa Nutting, author of Unclean Jobs for Women and Girls
"How I loved getting lost in the wilds of B. J. Hollars’s stories. Steeped in the landscape of the Midwest, the characters in Sightings push against their own strangeness and solitude in ways that thrill and astonish. This is a wonderful, richly-imagined debut.
" —Laura van den Berg, author of What the World Will Look Like When All the Water Leaves Us
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Table of Contents
Line of Scrimmage
Loose Lips Sink Ships