Jennifer Bannan, the young author of Inventing Victor, explores with fresh wit the battlefield of truth and lies. Sometimes as hazy as a summer day in Pittsburgh, other times bustling with the celebrity of a Miami vomitorium on opening night, the stories deftly depict the lure of irresponsibility. The characters stoke the flames of artifice in trying to close in on their desires: teenaged Dacia lets her need for popularity lead her to self-destruction, and Orthodox Leah is too busy wanting a child to see that she’s already a terrible mother. Middle-aged Mark is vicious to his wife in protecting a romantic past he’s no longer sure he lived. When these characters are finally face-to-face with reality, they may succumb to it, but not without a regretful glance over the shoulder. A brave look at American lives in lurid moments of ambition and self-trickery, Inventing Victor provides just a flicker of hope: that the guiltiest among us can see the truth laid out, if only in the instant that dreams go up in smoke.
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