It’s 1974 in Boxford, Maryland. Surrounded by their indifferent neighbors, two Mormon families cling together—when they can stand each other.
“In this debut collection of short stories, Carson explores the daily lives, loves and frustrations of two tight-knit Mormon families in 1970s Maryland. . . Standouts include “Gypsy Holiday,” in which Ada’s anxiety over family friends not coming to Thanksgiving devolves into a stark admission of her loneliness and inability to connect with outsiders; “A Little Five-Minute Thrown-Together Something,” which lays bare the squirming insecurities of teenage crushes; and “Flirting Lessons,” which sees Ada’s teenage daughter, Ginni, taking a cross-country road trip with two friends that leads to panic when one goes missing. These stories are unexpected in their subtlety as they explore the reality of what it means to be Mormon—and human.”
“‘Atta Boy’ vaults us into a narrative in which time is as much the subject as the characters. In an almost Faulknerian way, Carson finds the pulse of ambition and uses that tick to reveal the inner voices that can haunt us all, if allowed. We should be looking to the eternities, of course, but in the meantime, we have so many other things to worry us onward into the night, or at least until the next priesthood interview. This story excels at showing the ironies of those worries as opposed the unvarnished truths about ourselves.”