A trainer of beauty pageant contestants is disappointed after spending a fortune to prepare a beautiful Latina for the Miss USA pageant, only to learn that she harbors a disqualifying secret. A nurse volunteers to help after Puerto Rico has been devastated by hurricane Maria, only to face a lackadaisical government response. An EPA employee whose parents died from exposure to a pesticide that was later banned, is forced to justify reversing the regulations that would have saved her parents. And a future department of education employee discovers the ultimate cost of federal overreach in primary education. These compelling stories are based on recent headlines from before the pandemic crisis, when environmental regulations were overturned at breakneck speed and society had already started to become numb in the face of moral depravity and a lack of objective truth.
The thought-provoking tales in Yxta Maya Murray’s short story collection are inspired by recent headlines and court cases in America. Regular people negotiate tentative paths through wildfires, mass shootings, bureaucratic incompetence, and heedless government policies. Characters grapple with the consequences of frightening attitudes pervasive in the United States today, or they struggle to make a living, raise their children, and do a little good in the world. In these brilliantly written stories, Murray explores the human capacity for moral numbness and its opposite, the human desire to be kind and compassionate.
After earning her J.D. at Stanford Law School, Yxta Maya Murray clerked for two judges and then joined the Loyola Law School faculty in 1995. Recipient of an Art Writer’s Grant from the Andy Warhol Foundation, she published a one-act play about the Christine Blasey Ford hearings, titled Advice and Consent (LARB Books 2019) and was named a finalist for the National Magazine Awards in Fiction. Her scholarly work focuses on Community Constitutionalism, Criminal Law, Property Law, Gender Justice, and Law and Literature. Professor Murray has published in a number of law journals, where her most recent work concerns FEMA’s failures in Puerto Rico. As a novelist and art critic, she has published six books and won a 1999 Whiting Writer’s Award. Her seventh novel, Art Is Everything, is being published by TriQuarterly Books. When she is not teaching, reading, or writing, Murray enjoys running, photography, and painting.