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In his fiction debut, Josh Penzone examines the emotional cages suburbanites use to entrap themselves. Over the course of the year, follow the residents of Vintage Woods Court as they inadvertently influence one another to realize how sometimes acceptance of self is the only change we are capable of.
An aging woman off her meds abuses the privilege of being entrusted with her neighbor's key. A war veteran confronts the man who influenced him to enlist. A devoted husband hires a male escort to answer the question he's been afraid to ask himself. The HOA President seeks retribution after her school board campaign signs go missing. A teenage girl strips for strangers via webcam wishing to feel something, even humiliation. A couple, emotionally broken after the death of their baby, hopes the Vintage Woods cul-de-sac is their answer to a new start.
In these eleven linked stories, Penzone explores the self-imposed tragic quest to feel something beyond life’s dullness. Sometimes darkly funny, other times poignantly heart wrenching, suburbia’s setting showcases a place where people sport outward smiles to mask inner secrets. But are they really fooling anyone? Maybe this is why a cul-de-sac is shaped like a peephole. We want to see in.
“Penzone opens the doors and unlocks the secrets of his characters’ hearts, exposing the double lives of neighbors, friends, spouses, parents, children—people who thought they knew each other so well, but man, oh man, were they wrong.”
-- Sara Pritchard, author of Crackpots and Help Wanted: Female
"I can promise that you won't easily forget Penzone's interlocking stories. His straight-forward vision is set off by beautiful craft, nuance, and an approach that's at once compassionate and hard-nosed. Penzone writes about America and Americans adrift in the new century where the banalities of on-line advice and talk show commentary run side-by-side seemingly endless wars, iced-over marriages and ignored mood stabilizers. His characters live on a cul-de-sac that's both literal and spiritual, and yet you feel so deeply for them it's like you want to offer advice, knowing they won't take it. This is a moving and deeply felt vision from the direction of Tobias Wolff, Richard Ford and Mary Gaitskill, and once read, you'll feel you've seen just that much more."
-- Ross Klavan, screenwriter of Tigerland, author of "Schmuck," the novel