"Hallman reconfigures our everyday errors and flaws into deeply affecting fiction...[he] is wonderfully bright." New York Times Sunday Book Review
Full of cryptic twists, philosophical quandaries, and fabulist turns, J.C. Hallman’s stories elucidate an intuitive understanding of the human condition. A holiday bete-beche between a bachelor uncle (secretly enamored with his offstage, married “beautiful lady friend”) and his synecdochical “family” finds resolution in a nephew’s potent alliance. An alienated young man discovers the meaning of love in the pages of the biology textbook The Conjugal Cyst, and in the arms of two increasingly unavailable older nurses. As his father deserts and as his eligible English teacher encroaches on his mother, an adolescent boy constructs a wicker man in the garage, to repel successors and to summon his own adult identity. A mother and son witness the father’s backyard fling with a disturbed neighbor who has pruned a leafy cave out of the dividing hedge. A young couple’s romantic consummation is repeatedly interrupted by the intrusion of a narrator commenting on the phenomenon of eroticism. A heretofore sound Everyman finds himself under the weather once a prominent doctor hypothesizes a new criteria for health.
The Hospital for Bad Poets is an eccentric and bawdy collection of short stories, riding multiple layers simultaneously. Earthy, lusty, and physical in the same breath as they are sly, ironic, and cerebral, Hallman’s stories are modern riddles with no easy answers.