From a truly distinctive voice brimming with wicked humor, tales of the little disasters that befall and befuddle us
April Wilder’s characters (some normal, some less so) have this in common: they are spiraling (or inching) toward self-destruction. An almost poetic range of disasters are sought out and savored in This Is Not an Accident, from bad romance to iffy adoption decisions to unsteady liaisons with animals and dolls; from compulsive driving to compulsive written correspondence with oneself. A house sitter hides among poets in Salt Lake City after his canine charge dies tragically. A grandma’s boyfriend holds a backyard barbecue under siege—with the kids as his pint-sized guards. The world of these slightly off-center individuals is similarly off by a few degrees. But by the end, we realize it’s not as far off as we would like to think: this is modern American life. What Wilder captures is not a dark side, but rather the side we all know well and hide from others, and ourselves. In the tradition of Wells Tower and Jim Shepard, This Is Not an Accident signals a bold new voice and delivers the kind of insanely incisive moments only a master of the human condition can conjure.