We are guilty of actions that make no sense. We perform acts of beauty and acts of ugliness. We give in to hidden ambitions, latent hungers, and clumsy grasps at insight.

At the heart of these stories are the rituals—grand and small—in which we humans partake; the peculiar gestures we hope will forge meaning or help us glean some sort of understanding. They may be formally ceremonial and spiritual, like the imposition of ashes in a darkened church. But often they are secular, private, and bizarre. A woman slipping her son’s old baby tooth into her mouth as he’s led away to prison. A girl in a tunnel playing an invisible piano while bombs ravage the city above. A man with a laser machine, creating a private galaxy to rekindle lost love. A daughter frantically searching a wax museum for her mother’s second self.

The power of ritual weaves through this collection amid lush descriptions and poignant dialogue. And from both the everyday and the sacred, these characters piece together the strange mosaic of life.

Relentlessly authentic and peopled with true characters, these stories demand readers’ sympathy and engagement. Schuitema’s understanding of the eccentricities and vicissitudes of Michigan add unforgettable color to these perceptive, lyrical narratives.
— Monica McFawn