200pp. (40.000 words)
In her debut short story collection Marlena’s Mustache, Sarah Pines writes about people the world over trying to escape immeasurable loneliness. There’s Martha, for example, who has grown fat and exhausted and who endlessly stacks the same blenders and toasters in her garage in Beverly Hills. Or the grandfather who waits every winter for his bulk delivery of oranges from a tropical fruit company in Bremen to indulge his memories of Africa. In the village of Bouchard in northern France, the wild twins Valle and Olympe are found dead, facing away from each other—unthinkable in life—shortly after the Virgin Mary appears to them in a robe as red as a scab. And from a prison in Casablanca, Hind recalls secretly meeting with K. in elegant hotels while Frédérique exploits a street musician on a washed-out winter day just to feel something again.
In her stories, Sarah Pines masterfully mines the abyss and scans the surface, combining past Hollywood glamor with ancient Greece and pop culture with Baudelaire. Above all, she traces our longing for the past and our hope for a better future with sensitivity, brute force, humor, and a poetic sensibility.