Nominated for the 2018 Lambda Literary Award for Fiction“Darkly funny and brilliantly human, urgently fantastical and implacably realistic. This is one of the best short story collections I’ve read in years. It should be required reading for anyone who’s trying to understand America in 2017.” –Paul La Farge, author of The Night Ocean
The eight stories in Things to Do When You’re Goth in the Country paint a vivid image of people living on the fringes in America, people who don’t do what you might expect them to. Not stories of triumph over adversity, but something completely other. Described in language that is brilliantly sardonic, Woods’s characters return repeatedly to places where they don’t belong–often the places where they were born. In “Zombie,” a coming-of-age story like no other, two young girls find friendship with a mysterious woman in the local cemetery. “Take the Way Home That Leads Back to Sullivan Street” describes a lesbian couple trying to repair their relationship by dropping acid at a Mensa party. In “A New Mohawk,” a man in romantic pursuit of a female political activist becomes inadvertently much more familiar with the Palestine/Israel conflict than anyone would have thought possible. And in the title story, Woods brings us into the mind of a queer goth teenager who faces ostracism from her small-town evangelical church. In the background are the endless American wars and occupations and too many early deaths of friends and family. This is fiction that is fresh and of the moment, even as it is timeless.