Following her debut novel, My Sister's Continent, Gina Frangello continues her exploration of the power dynamics of gender, class, and sexuality in this collection of diverse, vibrant short fiction. Slut Lullabies is unsettling. Like the experience of reading a private diary, these stories leave one feeling slightly traitorous while also imprinting a deep recognition of truths you did not know you felt.
It is through beauty, horror, humor and chaos that Frangello has managed to pull these ten stories out of her deep understanding of the human experience. A gay Latino man whose pious relatives are boycotting his commitment ceremony' becomes caught up in hypocrisy and splendor when his lover's Waspy mother hires a glitzy wedding coordinator; a precocious girl seduces her teacher in order to blackmail him into funding her young stepmother's escape from their violent home; a wife turns to infidelity and drugs to distract her from chronic pain following an accident; a teenage boy attempts atonement in Amsterdam after having exploited his naive girlfriend at home; and a socialite must confront her dark past as her husband's deterioration from Huntington's Disease destroys both her bank account and social standing.
This short story collection was breathtaking. I truly felt both anxious and intrigued as I was reading it. The author clearly understands each of the characters she writes about, and the stories come from a very dark yet likely place. Undoubtably these are all somebodies stories even though this is a work of fiction. I think brining light to such a taboo subject is refreshing and gives humanity to those who have been dehumanized. I would recommend this collection to others.