The Grip of It
MCD x FSG Originals, October 2019
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In Jac Jemc’s dislocating second story collection, False Bingo, we watch as sinister forces—some supernatural, some of this earth, some real and some not—work their ways into the mundanity of everyday life.
“Strange Loop” introduces us to an outcast who, attempting to escape an unnamed mistake, spends his days taxiderming animals, while in “Delivery,” a family watches as their dementia-addled, basement-dwelling father succumbs to an online shopping addiction. “Don’t Let’s” finds a woman, recently freed from an abusive relationship, living in an isolated vacation home in the South that might be haunted by breath-stealing ghosts.
Fueled by paranoia and visceral suspense and crafted with masterful restraint, these twenty stories explore what happens when our fears become real, if only for a fleeting moment. Identities are stolen, alternate universes are revealed, and innocence is lost as the consequences of minor, seemingly harmless decisions erupt to sabotage a false sense of stability. “This is not a morality tale about the goodness of one character triumphing over the bad of another,” the shrewd narrator of “Pastoral” announces. Rather, False Bingo is a collection of realist fables exploring how conflicting moralities can coexist: the good, the bad, the indecipherable.
REad an excerpt:
Loser at FSG Originals
Loitering at Lit Hub
Strange Loop at CrimeReads
“This constantly shifting collection will leave readers beguiled.”
-Publishers Weekly, starred review
“[W]ide-ranging, zany collection that somehow combines the otherworldliness of Jeff VanderMeer’s Annihilation, the menacing irony of Shirley Jackson and the cold feminist fury of Margaret Atwood…There’s no denying that Jemc has a gift for making you want to keep reading. It’s refreshing to witness a writer flexing in so many expository modes.”
“Rarely relying on obvious chills or violence, her stories — as surreal as they are scary — dwell magnificently in the realm of the upsetting yet pleasingly confounding. Ultimately, it’s the details of reality — the things that can and do happen all the time — that make the stories shine, for Jemc knows how to use mundanity to throw the truly bizarre into sharp relief.”
“Tense, well-imagined stories whose tendencies to unravel mirror the characters they chronicle.”
“Jemc continues to solidify her standing as a talented writer of the uncanny, the horrifying, and the hilarious.”
“An eerie assemblage that delves into fears and obsessions, both real and imagined, from online shopping addiction to breath-stealing ghosts.”
“Bound to unsettle.”
“Jac Jemc thrives in the world of ambiguity…and unease.”
“In all her writing, Jemc displays dexterity with characters and precision with words and sentences, creating small worlds that satisfy even as they disturb. False Bingo collects disquieting stories of everyday life overshadowed by paranoia and marred by dark edges.”
"Jemc’s fiction often leads the reader into disquieting spaces; False Bingo may be her most transporting work yet..."