Scavengers: StoriesUniversity of Alaska Press (2016)Includes the stories:
In award-winning writer Becky Hagenston's third collection of stories, Scavengers, a woman obsesses with reality shows meets a sorority girl on a very personal scavenger hunt. A man discovers that his father suddenly believes in lake monsters. A woman goes to St. Petersberg, Russia and tries to lose herself in museums and places to avoid dealing with her husband's near-fatal accident. A grown-up Hansel tries hard to be a good father. A young girl begins to suspect that the séances taking place in her basement aren't as harmless as they seem.
Hagenston builds worlds of startling emotional complexity, always aware of her characters' darkly humorous circumstances. From Mississippi to New Hampshire to Russia, the ordinary (a family deals with a grandmother's illness) to the bizarre (a hand puppet takes over a small town), the characters in these stories find themselves faced with the choice to either make sense of the past or run from it. But what do you take with you when you decide to move on?
These elegant , moving stories by Becky Hagenston offer so much, their emotional scope reaching far beyond the narrative constraints of short fiction. You'll set down this book with a sad, knowing smile, understanding that out modest lives might not turn out as we hope, but there is a certain beauty to our frailty and bruised-heart sadness.
Becky Hagenston is so good, a true master of the short story, it's no wonder she keeps winning prizes for her fiction. She is wickedly funny, deadly smart, and her characters—desperate, abandoned, strange, sneaky, wonderfully strange and beautiful souls—never fail to deliver that devastating heart punch you know is coming and can't help but want. Scavengers is a heavyweight addition to her impressive and rapidly growing body of excellent work.
Scavengers serves up Becky Hagenston's lightsome prose and quirky humor to dazzling effect, with gorgeous, funny heartbreak on every page. These are beautiful, transcendent stories, where a moment's impulse reveals a deeply rooted desire, where kissing a new friend or opening the door to a stranger can lead, as in a fairy tale, to an entirely new world, one that is startling, dangerous, and divine.
Becky Hagenston possesses a voice that is so pure, vivid, and true. Her sentences move with fluidity and grace and propel you forward as if being carried by the wind. We know her characters, see them in the grocery store or wave to them as they water the lawn across the street. But in the stories of Scavengers we are taken behind the emotional curtain and share in the struggle of what we hope for, how to get it, or do we even know.
Strange Weather: StoriesPress 53 (2010)Includes the stories:
The sensibility overseeing these fine stories is curious, clever, quick, hilarious, and heartbreaking. The world contained between the covers of Strange Weather is both realistic and magical, silly and sublime, "romance and raunch. Just like real life." When a character working a desk job in a toxic chemical plant announces wistfully that "nothing's blown up," the reader completely understands her itch for disaster, for the explosion that threatens. Hagenston truly relishes the human urge for trouble that resides just next to the equally human instinct for comfort. Her liars are among the most truthful characters I've encountered in a long while.
Strange Weather is just the right title for Becky Hagenston's terrific new story collection. The characters and stories herein are changeable, unpredictable in the extreme: tender as brand-new love in one moment, mean as life the next; realistic in one story, fantastical in another. Just when you think you've got these characters and their messed-up lives pegged, they do something wonderful, or awful, or both, to utterly surprise you, and often themselves. A wonderful book.
With extraordinary with and understanding and stunning emotional accuracy, not to mention an uncanny ability to track which way the wind blows, Becky Hagenston trains a weather eye on those most unstable of fronts—human beings in their dealings with each other. Smart work from a smart writer.
A Gram of Mars: StoriesSarabande Books (1996)Includes the stories:
Selected by A.M. Homes as the 1997 Winner of the Mary McCarthy Prize in Short Fiction.
In her debut collection of short stories, Becky Hagenston portrays the modern family as one that refuses to be fashionably dysfunctional. In the hyphenated, divorced, step-parented context of the late twentieth century, Hagenston reminds us that it's the minister and his wife in a small town in Maryland who are unconventional. These stories, conveyed with spirited, conversational prose, prove that the meaning of family prevails.
"Becky Hagenston writes with grace, conviction, and wit. The complex stories in this collection circle about the central questions in our lives—coming to terms with our past, coming to terms with the present. The stories have the stuff of real life and display the craft of a veteran writer; it's hard to believe that this is a first book by a young author. A Gram of Mars is a literary gem."
In A Gram of Mars, Hagenston offers us tales of the heart at home, capturing the fractured experience of family and the often desperate need for connection. Set on the author's home turf of Maryland, where she grew up, and in Arizona, where she attended graduate school, Hagenston's stories bravely document the ways in which we fail each other and ourselves... One is both comforted and challenged by the familiarity of the characters and the shared history that is life in the late twentieth century. Here is a new and necessary voice in American fiction."