How to Set Yourself on Fire

Available

Description

"It's not romantic," Torrey says. "It's physics. For every letter there is an equal and opposite, you know...letter."
Sheila's life is built of little thievings. Adrift in her mid-thirties, she sleeps in fragments, ditches her temp jobs, eavesdrops on her neighbor's Skype calls, and keeps a stolen letter in her nightstand, penned by a UPS driver she barely knows. Her mother is stifling and her father is a bad memory. Her only friends are her mysterious, slovenly neighbor Vinnie and his daughter Torrey, a quirky twelve-year-old coping with a recent tragedy.
When her grandmother Rosamond dies, Sheila inherits a box of secret love letters from Harold C. Carr--a man who is not her grandfather. In spite of herself, Sheila gets caught up in the legacy of the affair, piecing together her grandmother's past and forging bonds with Torrey and Vinnie as intense and fragile as the crumbling pages in Rosamond's shoebox.
As they get closer to unraveling the truth, Sheila grows almost as obsessed with the letters as the man who wrote them. Somewhere, there's an answering stack of letters--written in Rosamond's hand--and Sheila can't stop until she uncovers the rest of the story. Threaded with wry humor and the ache of love lost or left behind, How to Set Yourself on Fire establishes Julia Dixon Evans as a rising talent in the vein of Shirley Jackson and Lindsay Hunter.

Product Details

Price
$16.95  $15.59
Publisher
Dzanc Books
Publish Date
May 08, 2018
Pages
312
Dimensions
5.4 X 0.9 X 8.5 inches | 0.8 pounds
Language
English
Type
Paperback
EAN/UPC
9781945814501
BISAC Categories:

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About the Author

Julia Dixon Evans lives in San Diego. Her fiction has appeared in Monkeybicycle, The Fanzine, Hobart, Paper Darts, and elsewhere. Her nonfiction work has appeared in Like The Wind Magazine and Barrelhouse. She is an editor and program director for the literary nonprofit and small press So Say We All.

Reviews

"Offbeat and winning...the story of a surprisingly touching friendship between a 35-year-old woman and her 12-year-old neighbor. Torrey, who becomes obsessed with the letters and also becomes something of a fairy godmother to Sheila, urges her to find Harold, pushing Sheila to her eventual, reluctant transformation. It's impossible not to be charmed by Torrey and Sheila's relationship."
--Publishers Weekly

"Evans gets inside every nook and cranny of Sheila's head, and it's hard to look away from, like driving by a train wreck. Socially awkward to the core, Shelia and her fellow characters are emotionally detached from each other but not from readers, who will be fully drawn into Evans' world and eventually rooting for Sheila, too. With its touch of mystery, this refreshingly realistic and quirky novel is hard to put down."
--Booklist

"A page turner. Gripping in its terseness ... How to Set Yourself on Fire pulls the reader along, white-knuckled and wide-eyed. ... The emotion is inexorable while the humor is palpable and the story is skillfully acute. How to Set Yourself on Fire could almost be a "beach-read" if it were more acceptable to cry on the beach."
--Popscure

"This honest first-person narrator is just the woman without a filter that I want to listen to: She's honest, funny, and shares all of the emotions that some readers might not feel brave enough to confront...How to Set Yourself on Fire deserves every one of its five stars--and maybe more."
--Independent Book Review

"The friendship that develops between Torrey and Sheila gives the book its real heart. Torrey matches Sheila's extreme immaturity with her own wisdom, and their bond feels unexpected and fresh."
--Kirkus Reviews

"A brooding tale of memory, emotional malaise, grief, and voyeurism...Here, even the most isolated individuals find meaningful connections."
--Foreword Reviews

"The atmosphere taut with tension, secrets and lies, How to Set Yourself on Fire exudes the quiet menace of an explosion waiting to happen...the start of a literary career that will be nothing short of incendiary."
--Vol. 1 Brooklyn

"How to Set Yourself on Fire is a family mystery that slowly reveals itself, illuminating a poignant emptiness in its lovable but complicated main character. Sheila is funny, depressed, searching, and unpredictable. Her story will move you long after its lovely final scene."
--Lindsay Hunter, author of Eat only When You're Hungry

"This book had me glued. I came for the intrigue buried in the treasure hunt of letters, but I stayed for the unlikely friendship of thirty-five-year-old Sheila and twelve-year-old Torrey. I would read a whole series of these two having adventures together, but I'll have to relish this singularly heartbreaking and hilarious story of lost and found love, in all its guises. "
--Jac Jemc, author of The Grip of It

"This book features my favorite type of protagonist: the creepy, socially awkward woman who you can't help but fall in love with. It's also the best kind of reading experience: a book that is funny and difficult to put down, and builds to something that is disarmingly touching."
--Juliet Escoria, author of Witch Hunt