May 2015 Indie Next List
“This collection of interlinked short stories is one of the best I've read in years. How many of us have often wondered what is going on inside our neighbors' houses? Acampora explores it all -- the hopes, dreams, arguments, perversities, and disappointments. Though set in affluent, suburban western Connecticut, the stories' deeper themes are universal -- think Chekhov and Cheever. Often dark, sad, and funny, and always intelligent and well-written, these stories leave the reader yearning for more by this wonderful new writer.”
— Bob Smith (W), UConn Co-op Bookstore at Storrs Center, Storrs Center, CT
John likes to arrive first. He enjoys standing quietly with a house before his clients arrive, and today, although he feels pinned beneath an invisible weight, he resolves to savor this solitary moment. It's one of those overhauled ranches so common to Old Cranbury these days, swollen and dressed to resemble a colonial. White, of course, with ornamental shutters and latches pretending to hold them open. A close echo of its renovated sisters on Whistle Hill Road, garnished with hostas and glitzed with azaleas. He has seen too many of these to count....
A man strikes an under-the-table deal with a surgeon to spend a few quiet seconds closer to his wife than he's ever been; a young soon-to-be mother looks on in paralyzing astonishment as her husband walks away from a twenty-year career in advertising at the urging of his spirit animal; an elderly artist risks more than he knows when he's commissioned by his newly-arrived neighbors to produce the work of a lifetime.
In her stunning debut collection, The Wonder Garden, Lauren Acampora brings to the ear with enchanting realism the myriad lives of a suburban town and lays them bare. These linked stories take a trenchant look at the flawed people of Old Cranbury, incisive tales that reveal at each turn the unseen battles we play out behind drawn blinds, the creeping truths from which we distract ourselves, and the massive dreams we haul quietly with us and hold close.
Deliciously creepy and masterfully complex The Wonder Garden heralds the arrival of a phenomenal new talent in American fiction.