In Music Through the Floor, Pushcart Prize winner Eric Puchner shows just how startling a first work can be. The nine stories included here wake you up to the joy and oftentimes heartache of a tale well told. In Children of God, the misfits in the story are not the two developmentally disabled adults but rather the parents and normal people surrounding them. Child's Play tells of little boys behaving like the cruelest of monsters. By the end, the reader is thoughtful at the implications of their actions and haunted by their subsequent future.

Puchner refuses to pander to his readers, and he faces the truths of the world with honesty. Love, family and the ways in which people go in search for both: it's all here. And where some authors might struggle with endings their last lines and paragraphs dull clinks of disappointment Puchner's final words are full and satisfying. It's storytelling that lingers long after the last page is turned.

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