Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Trailer Park Tuesday: The Wonder Garden by Lauren Acampora

Welcome to Trailer Park Tuesday, a showcase of new book trailers and, in a few cases, previews of book-related movies.

In the trailer for her short story collection, The Wonder Garden, Lauren Acampora calls herself “an anthropologist of the suburbs.” Her linked stories, which coalesce into a pseudo-novel, pull back the curtains on the pristine homes that line quiet, happy streets and reveal what really goes on inside those houses. The video is a terrific introduction to Acampora and her work as it follows her driving around the neighborhood of her New England town, sitting at her laptop, and conversing with her husband, Thomas Doyle, an artist whose fascinating miniatures of off-kilter suburbia are the perfect eye-magnets for his wife’s work. I loved the cover of The Wonder Garden hardcover, but I think I love the design for the paperback (which comes out today from Grove Press) even more. I mean, just look at the satisfying menace of that house-on-house violence. In the same way, Acampora’s characters, who think they live in domestic paradise, are always on the brink of disaster. “One of my favorite things to do is drive around and look at all the beautiful houses in the area,” Lauren says. “I wonder who lives in them. Are they experiencing the kind of happiness these houses seem to advertise?” To find the complicated answer to that question, she goes to her laptop and works it out on the page. As Jay McInerney, author of Bright Lights, Big City, notes: “The world depicted in Lauren Acampora’s stories seems reassuringly familiar, until it becomes unaccountably strange and unsettling. One moment we seem to be in Cheever’s Westchester, the next we plunge through the looking glass into realms that may remind some readers of George Saunders or Robert Coover or the David Lynch of Blue Velvet, though, inevitably, all resemblances prove to be superficial. Acampora is an original and The Wonder Garden is an outstanding debut.”

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