The End of the Straight and Narrow (Southern Methodist University Press) is the debut collection of short fiction from Appleton writer David McGlynn. In these nine stories, the characters find their faith slammed up against the worst life can throw at them - wildfires, landslides, divorce, the premature death of a spouse. McGlynn, who teaches at Lawrence University, has a way with the thoughts of people who find themselves unmoored from everything they had expected out of life; these stories center on the pathways they find to go on.
Bend With the Knees And Other Love Advice From My Father (New Rivers Press) is the first book of stories from UW-Whitewater lecturer and Madison resident Benjamin Drevlow. The 13 stories at first seem offbeat, like "Dina Osmak, Crippled Pirate Midget Bully," a first-person rant full of devil-may-care voice, or "Daddy Sang Bass," told in sections based on songs by Bob Dylan, or "The Night He Dies," told in the second person. But these are character studies just the same, about characters full of doubt, the narratives centering on struggle rather than any easy solutions.
East-sider Sam Savage's novel Firmin, about the book-loving rat with a taste for the classics, has been reprinted in a Delta Trade paperback edition. The book has been translated into several languages and has hit the bestseller lists in Italy and Spain. An article about Savage even appeared in the London Daily Telegraph.
Big Trips: More Good Gay Travel Writing by Raphael Kadushin (Terrace Books) will (like its predecessor, Wonderlands: Good Gay Travel Writing) find a worldwide audience as part of the W Hotels' "Pride 365" vacation packages. Dale Peck, Edmund White, Andrew Holleran, Philip Gambone and Brian Bouldrey are among the incredible talent pool Kadushin draws on. Standout tales: Douglas Martin's romantic take on "The Heart of Paris" and Michael Klein's bittersweet reminiscence of Provincetown, "A Wedding in the Sky."
Facing Fear: Cancer and Politics, Courage and Hope by Judith Strasser (Borderland Books) is a series of essays, or meditations, on fear. The inciting incident was, not surprisingly, the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, which altered a lot of Americans' attitudes toward fear. "At the time," writes Strasser, "I feared nothing." Strasser goes on to explore the "science of fear and anxiety," coping strategies, and courage in the face of fear.
Let's not forget Favre: His Twenty Greatest Games by Doug Moe (Trails Books). Despite Brett's plummeting approval ratings among Packers fans who previously were ready to canonize the guy, this will bring back sweet memories.