Review by Lindsay Denninger

Baby's On Fire by Liz Prato
Press 53
May 3, 2015
ISBN: 978-1941209158

Liz Prato's debut short story collection, Baby's On Fire, also boasts a host of broken souls. Rich and haunting, Prato's tales have been awarded a well-deserved runner-up spot in the Press 53 Award for Short Fiction, and it's no wonder: her stories don't just take the reader for a ride. They push us along, poking and prodding and cajoling to the brink of discomfort before yanking right back into sanity. The characters are typically on the edge of despair—a twenty-something suffering from depression who moves back home to find her childhood home has just burned down, a teen exploring her boundaries and her sexuality while stranded with extended family, a woman dealing with the shock of her father's death—but it's not at all discouraging. Their struggles add to the sweeping rip current of prose.

"Astronomical Objects" finds a love quadrangle that two lovers didn't know existed; "My Son's Father" is the best single-page story I've read in years; "Minor League Lessons" tells the story of a former baseball player coming to grips with the next chapter; and in "I See You in the Bright Night," a woman recounts her semi-love story with an old friend.

Though this is Prato's first collection of short stories, it is assuredly not her last. She writes in a way that forces readers to take notice, gripping hearts and clenching souls. She has been published here at The Summerset Review recently—an essay in an innovative style. See our Fall 2014 issue to read it.