Scavengers: Stories

University of Alaska Press

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.

Benjamin Percy, author of The Dead Lands, Red Moon, and The Wilding

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.

Brad Watson, author of Aliens in the Prime of Their Lives

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.

Cary Holladay, author of Horse People: Stories

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.

Michael Farris Smith, award-winning author of Rivers and The Hands of Strangers