In her debut short story collection, Quednau offers unsettling examinations of “what really happened” with rich, complex characters that might equally arouse our suspicions or sympathy: we pay attention. She gives voice to the interludes between actions, what almost occurred, or might yet, the skewed time of “before” and acute reckoning of “afterward.”
Seemingly innocent gestures leave their marks in comeuppance: the blurt of an intimate nickname becoming an ad hoc striptease in a public place, a parked car leading to a woman flailing in a dunk tank, a garage sale with no early birds ending in vengeance, the redemptive act of shucking corn with an ex-husband’s new lover transforming into greater loss. These stories attest to Quednau’s belief that the most significant moments in our lives—the things that alter us—lie in the margins, just out of sight of what was once presumed or predicted. In these short fictions timing is everything, the rusted twentieth-century myths of ownership or conquest are set against the incoming reality of pandemic, our separate notions of love or of courage, of painful transformation, yet to be believed.