A review of

Big Cats

by Holiday Reinhorn

Central question: Where do you reside on the animal-human continuum?
Format: 224 pp., paperback; Size: 8.4” x 5.8”; Price: $14.95; Publisher: Free Press; City where author lives: Van Nuys; Author’s pets: several dogs (no cats); Funniest rejection slip received by author: a Post-it note reading SORRY, DUDE in crayon; Representative sentence: “I imagined taking a bite out of Jose’s brain like an apple and then being poisoned by all the chemical well-being that must reside in there and then being buried in a pine coffin out by the airfield and having strangers walk by the grave marker where I was and saying: ‘Look at that loan-officer guy who ate a branch manager’s brain and died.’”

I liked Holiday Reinhorn’s debut short story collection, Big Cats, so much that for three weeks after I finished reading it, I drove aimlessly through the desert outside of Las Vegas, through Arizona and New Mexico, and across most of western Texas. I filled my trunk with copies of Big Cats. I spent my days carefully cutting Reinhorn’s stories from the books, enclosing them in Ziploc freezer bags, and burying them in shallow holes.

If short stories are seeds, Big Cats contains thirteen seeds that will sprout from the cracked earth and ripen into gorgeous Saguaro cacti. Reinhorn’s stories are spongy, prickly things that share a kinship with those planted by readers of Raymond Carver and Tobias Wolff. Like these writers, she photographically renders a bloody-hearted world full of delicate people who need to be held in the palm of your hand.

We hope you enjoy this excerpt.

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—Ryan Bartelmay

Ryan Bartelmay likes to read in bed propped up on two pillows. He doesn’t like to read in airplanes or while the television is on.

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