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When Jill McCorkle feels a short story coming on, she goes right ahead and "wastes" wonderful ideas instead of hoarding them for a novel. The result is another extraordinary collection of stories and characters. In "It's a Funeral! RSVP," the storyteller is a woman who takes up self-styled "careers" that suit her circumstances. Now she's stumbled onto one that's so successful that she just can't quit. It's planning funerals, what she calls Going Out Parties, in which the clients are the soon-to-be-deceased themselves. In "Life Prerecorded," perhaps McCorkle's finest short piece to date, the pregnant narrator finds the real meaning of new life by visiting with a very old neighbor who's waiting, too, for his own new life. In these and the rest of the nine stories, Jill McCorkle acts on her penchant for taming the outrageous, humanizing the forbidden, and grounding the hilarious.

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