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The Man Who Shot Out My Eye Is Dead: Stories by Chanelle BenzChanelle Benz is a shapeshifter, a time traveller, an heir to Flannery O'Connor, a sculptor of language, and a writer to watch. Her debut collection of short stories is wildly imaginative and varied, with contemporary stories, a western, "Adela," a purported found tale from 1829 with scholarly footnotes, and another told by a bookseller and former monk in the sixteenth century. All, like "The Mourners," from which the title comes, are dark but still manage to zap the reader with little electrical jolts of surprise. There are no happy endings and none are truly innocent, but the stories are a sign that the future of American literature is bright.

The Man Who Shot Out My Eye Is Dead: Stories by Chanelle Benz ($24.99, Ecco Press), recommended by Lyn, Square Books, Oxford, MS.