I just finished the third wonderful debut collection in as many months. Which I think is truly remarkable. As are the ten connected stories in Tracy Winn‘s Mrs. Somebody Somebody, published in 2009 by SMU Press with Random House recently publishing the paperback.

These stories are so different, as different as their narrators, that it’s easy to forget they’re related, that they all take place in Lowell, a mill town on its last legs. Coming across a character from another story felt like recognizing an old friend. I know her, I would look up from my book and want to tell someone. Or hey, I’ve seen that music box before.

From the girl who wanted to be Mrs. Somebody Somebody, Stella Lewis, in the first and title story:

“My hats were all over the bed–leftovers of my hopes for the party. I kept my back to her and heaved open the window to the morning, as if that would bring a fresh start.”

From Dr. Charlie Burroughs in “Blue Tango”:

“He drove his shovel into the ground, and turned the earth. Shoveled and turned, hoping the rhythm of the work could fill the hollows in him, and make him know he was home again. His anticipation of how it would be made it hard to see how it was, exactly.”

And from the delightful narrator of “Another Way to Make Cleopatra Cry,” eight-year-old Kaylene about her step-mother:

“She started reciting the poem of her purse. ‘You’ll find Avon lipstick named ‘Moonbeam Misbegotten.’ A half pack of Marlboros. Two gold hoop earrings.”

Stella Lewis, Dr. Charlie Burroughs, Delia Burroughs, June DeLisle, little Franklin Burroughs, Kaylene, the older Frankie Burroughs, Helen Burroughs, Izabel, and Frenchie Duras–It’s just as June DeLisle thinks in “Gumbo Limbo.”

“All sorts of lives ran right alongside the one she was living.”

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