After a whirlwind tour of Philly, with back-to-back-to-back events for Strange Attractors: The Ephrem Stories, Janice Deal has returned to the Midwest and is preparing for an appearance in Evanston, IL.
Meanwhile, yet another great review has appeared, this one by Elizabeth Niarchos Neukirch in the Chicago Review of Books. Here's an excerpt:
“The Midwestern town of Ephrem, Illinois, is a place that exists only in author Janice Deal’s imagination. But in her beautifully woven linked story collection Strange Attractors: The Ephrem Stories, the town and its residents are so completely realized I found myself poking around Google maps, trying to determine which actual place it might be based on. Thankfully no reference is needed, as this collection begins with a delightful hand-drawn map identifying the homes of Deal’s characters, as well as landmarks that any reader who grew up in semi-rural America will recognize: the local community college, omnipresent Walmart and Jewel-Osco, a dying mall at the edge of town, the one hotel that’s really a motel, a remote location near the lake where teenagers go to hook up (nicknamed 'the Babymaker'). Every location on the map is rendered vivid through Deal’s meticulous storytelling.
“The characters in Ephrem lead mundane lives, until Deal telescopes in to moments of revealed truths, sudden outbursts and hidden traumas, making the residents more complex and deeply relatable. The challenges they face in this Wisconsin border town are universal: loneliness, financial insecurity, strained family relationships, alcohol abuse, a persistent feeling of restlessness.…
“The people of Strange Attractors might be your neighbor or coworker, your friend or family member. They might even be you.”
If you do recognize yourself among the (entirely fictional) characters in Ephrem, let us know which one is you.