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Childhood, parenthood, love, life, and toxic masculinity are explored by various narrators in Jeff Richards’s short story collection, Everyone Worth Knowing (Circuit Breaker Books, June 1, 2021).
The men portrayed in these seventeen short stories struggle in relationships and mourn the loves of their past as they search for meaning, such as a remarried tourist who dreams of his dead wife, the jealous son of a barber who reimagines his failed relationship, or a college student who woos his girlfriend with his unusual apartment, and often hope to find clarity through work, like the boy who imagines he’ll discover what being a man is as he works one summer as a motel dishwasher, the government worker whose infertility and midlife crisis drive him to work as a ranch hand in Kansas, or a widowed preacher who seeks out guilt and inspiration in a brothel.
Approaching his flawed characters without judgment—including the one who refuses to wear a mask in the spring of 2020, to devastating results—in these tightly-written stories, Richards shows men who have brief violent urges against themselves and others. They drink too much. They have crushes and get divorced and watch their lives fall apart. And, finally, they attempt to overcome their directionless yearning and shame, and to understand their place in society.