In Pins and Needles, Karen Brown explores the dynamics of love and longing between mother and child, husband and wife, close friends, and virtual strangers, often peeling back the facade of a seemingly stable suburban life to reveal the secrets and transgressions that even good people can be guilty of.
In “She Fell to Her Knees,” Nell inherits the neglected house in which her mother died years before, and begins an affair with the neighbor. The narrator of “Apparitions,” who has recently returned the blind grandson she was raising to the care of his mother, invites a confused young man into her home. In “The Ropewalk,” a bartender haunted by her abandonment of her own child aids a customer in a struggle for custody of her daughters. A pregnant teenager in “Unction” comes to accept the reality of her situation while working a summer job in a bookbinding shop. Annie, the young mother with a tragic past in “Pins and Needles,” leaves her infant daughter to go on an errand in a snowstorm, and picks up a boy she doesn't know.
Evocative, sexy, and haunting, these are stories that readers won't soon forget.
Karen Brown is the author of Little Sinners and Other Stories, which was named a Best Book of 2012 by Publishers Weekly, and Pins and Needles: Stories, which was the recipient of AWP’s Grace Paley Prize for Short Fiction. Her work has been featured in The PEN/O. Henry Prize Stories, Best American Short Stories, The New York Times, and Good Housekeeping. She teaches creative writing and literature at the University of South Florida.