THE MUSTACHE AND OTHER TRAGEDIES
People say the women in Philadelphia are mean--that they scowl on the bus and only make eye contact if they want a fight. Elly Pastel is one of those women. And she tries to prove that the meaner you are, the longer you last.
"You need to go through life as if your arm is a chainsaw." Elly has been living by this lesson from her drunk grandmother since she was fifteen--using it to shield herself while growing up with dyslexia, gritting her teeth through her best friend's experiments with the supernatural, and launching a career as a wedding photographer. But as Elly becomes successful, she realizes her tough exterior has stopped protecting herself and has started hurting her friends, family, and Renaissance Faire–enthusiast neighbors. As she tries to find peace, she meets Phillip--who is either a genius, a profound ditz, or both. He also might be the one to convince her she's not such a bad person after all. Now if she can only stand by him after he announces he's growing a mustache.
Before jumping off the bus to save the life of a complete stranger, the most exciting thing Novena Schwartz had done in recent memory was decaffeinate her own tea. Plagued by hypochondria and anxiety, she finds it hard to leave her home some days for fear that certain disaster will come her way. But after finding love, Novena comes to suspect that some things may be worth the risk of catastrophe.
In the rare times Novena isn’t worrying or working, she does woodworking projects in the house she shares with her brother. She makes elaborate birdhouses but displays none outside for fear of attracting birds and contracting avian
influenza. After her brother announces he plans to move in with his longtime boyfriend, Novena is convinced he will be the victim of a hate crime and her terrifying world becomes unbearable. Her pattern of isolation and fear is broken when she meets Gordie, a paramedic, after she comes to his aid in a bike accident. Confident that he is prepared to respond to emergencies, Novena finds the courage to experience life as she forms a relationship with Gordie. But the endless possibilities of sickness, death and violence hang over her head at all times and her newfound freedom may be too much of a risk in a world full of disasters.
NOT A DAMN THING
Melissa Pak’s problem with religion is that it doesn’t tell you how to bring your dad back from the dead. Nevertheless, she has spent ages ten to thirty-two looking for a god or spirit that will help her understand why her dad died of a heart attack when she was a little girl. Because it’s hard to be a biracial woman who has to explain why she calls the White lady at the local bookstore “Mom.” She can only say “My mother ran this store with my Chinese dad, but he died” so many times before it gets old.
After learning financial difficulties are forcing her mother to sell the beloved family bookstore, Melissa resolves to raise the money needed to help her mom keep the store and preserve the one physical link she has left to her father. She finds the perfect way to raise the funds after a chance encounter with a reporter has Melissa featured in a local paper sharing her views on spirituality. After the article runs, fellow spiritual seekers track Melissa down and ask her for advice because they find something profound in the way she speaks about her forays into the unseen world. And Melissa is happy to fill them in -- for a fee.
High on her newfound success, Melissa attempts achieve the ultimate goal: bringing her dead dad back to life. But even if playing around with the supernatural doesn’t get you haunted by ghosts, it can get you in trouble with the ones who put their lives, and afterlives, in your hands. Life can be hard on a biracial woman but it’s even harder on a biracial woman who accidentally starts her own cult.
NOVELS BY JULIA CURCIO
Contemporary women's fiction with an absurd twist