Stiff (Made in Michigan Writers) (Paperback)
Wayne State University Press, 9780814345887, 176pp.
Publication Date: November 5, 2018
With a hearty helping of Detroit grit, the stories in Stiff pay homage to a city turned upside down by economic abandonment. Steve Hughes pushes the boundaries of realism, creating situations that seem odd and otherworldly. In his Detroit, witches cast spells to improve their husbands, chickens grow from seeds, and house painters with anger management issues declare themselves poet laureates. The characters in Stiff are all searching for something in each other-a certain wholeness or understanding, a place to rest and call home.
Hughes writes with great empathy about people who are struggling with their lives. In "Ripening," a man and woman in an illicit affair witness their genitals leaving their bodies for a rendezvous. In "Dexter's Song," a drug-addicted saxophone player meets a bored suburban woman who gives him her ex-boyfriend's sax, which unleashes a series of disasters but the instrument is so fine, so perfect, that when he holds it to his lips he can do no wrong.
Readers of contemporary fiction will enjoy this inventive and evocative collection of stories.