This Day in History
“Anthony Varallo writes about what matters: family, sorrow, childhood, friends, love. In short, he writes about life. What makes this book so remarkable is that he invests in his subject the kind of loving craft necessary to make a book of stories more than the sum of its parts. This Day in History is a piece of art, plain and simple, made out of love for the word and humanity.”—Bret Lott, author of The Difference between Women and Men
“I loved reading these stories. Varallo captures perfectly the bafflement of the young as they move among adults who are often in pain. There is a humanity and beauty here, as well as that deft twist of the unexpected phrase that makes reading such a pleasure.”—Elizabeth Strout, author of Amy and Isabelle
“This Day in History is a remarkable collection of stories—sometimes heartbreakingly funny and always beautifully crafted.”—Marly Swick, author of The Summer before the Summer of Love
On the verge of maturity—where parents are distant or absent, friendships are often more accidental than deliberate, and restless angst is common—Anthony Varallo’s adolescent protagonists dissect the world, and their place in it, with keen perception. This Day in History deftly collects their moments of discovery.
“There's a feeling I get whenever I enter an unfamiliar house, as if a secret inventory has been handed to me, and I am made to understand that the sofa cushions are stained underneath, the coffee table nursing one gimp leg, the books along the bookcase stolen from summer rental, and the dining room table used only for Christmas and taxes,” the narrator confesses in the first of Varallo’s twelve stories. Here, a birthday party for an unpopular classmate reveals an adult world both familiar and utterly strange. In subsequent stories a young girl longs to be part of her best friend's family, only to discover the family is less than ideal; two sisters recall the childhood houses they grew up—and apart—in, places inseparable from each woman’s notion of the other; and a mother and son set off on a bold and hopeless errand, their suburban neighborhood momentarily transformed into a stage.
As these children stand on the brink of adulthood, unsure how to move forward, striving to make sense of the world around them, they often discover that the distance between themselves and others is not nearly so great as first imagined. Funny, sad, and hopeful, Varallo’s stories make a gentle argument for connection and community and, in doing so, seek to extend our sympathy toward the world.