Jim Ruland’s debut story collection, Big Lonesome, is not a book you will breeze through. After each story, you’ll need time to think, to reflect, and most likely to catch your breath. It is, in short, quite dark and yet astonishing.

The world the characters of Big Lonesome inhabit is one that is unfamiliar in its bleakness and yet familiar in its honesty and humor. These are people who say and do things that live only in our dark hearts and to see them under a microscope is a bit like seeing ourselves, or that self we believe does not exist.

What I liked most about this collection is that these are stories that take chances–that push through form and content and explore a new world. For me, there’s nothing better than when I learn something–and from this book, I learned something of craft, of art, and of human nature. Well worth a read.

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