This brilliant debut collection of stories by O. Henry Award winner John Biguenet is as notable for the rigor of its intellect as for the sweep of its imagination. Whether recounting the predicament of an atheistic stigmatic in
Rather than add to the massive canon of the victimized, for example,
If these stories engage the world in sometimes shocking ways, they are virtuoso engagements, eloquent in their prose, surprising in their plotting, sly in their humor. Biguenet shifts among voices and narrative strategies and imposes neither a single style nor a repeated structure as he depicts the ecological catastrophe of
Such mastery of craft may come as a surprise in a first-time author, but even more impressive is the object of his art. For whether it seeks to prick or to tickle, each story in The Torturer's Apprentice addresses its subject with an authority unusual in contemporary literature as it entices the reader beyond the boundaries of the expected and the accepted.