What: Nora Jane stories have popped up in Ellen Gilchrist's short fiction collections for almost thirty years. Here, the stories are finally collected and ordered chronologically, in the order Nora Jane lives them. Let me tell you a few things about Nora Jane Whittington. She is a self-taught anarchist. She is caught on the Golden Gate Bridge during an earthquake. She has twin daughters. It is not entirely clear who the biological father of her daughters is. Her mother is a drunk. Her grandmother is an opera singer. She robs a bar disguised as a nun.
Comparable to: Gilchrist shares Alice Munro's knack for using regionally-specific short fiction to dig into daily life. She's more fanciful than Munro, though.
Representative quote: "It was only fate, the I Ching assured him. A fateful flaw that would cause disaster and ruin but not of his own doing and therefore nothing to worry about."
You might not like it if: You find you cannot stand the central character. Personally, I adore Nora Jane but have trouble with Rhoda Manning, another Gilchrist character with her own set of stories.
How to get it: Even if you can't find this particular book, you can track down Nora Jane stories in other Gilchrist collections, such as Victory Over Japan, Light Can Be Both Wave and Particle, and The Courts of Love.