Fortune Smiles by Adam Johnson
“Nirvana,” is a poignant story about a woman who can longer walk after contracting a rare disease. In this near future story, she draws comfort from a digital hologram of Kurt Cobain that her husband creates.
“Hurricanes Anonymous” focuses upon a man taking care of his toddler son in the aftermath of Katrina. Though they live in a UPS truck, the man tries to do what is right but he’s distracted by his new girlfriend, Cherelle.
“Interesting Facts” is written from the point-of-view of a sarcastic breast-cancer survivor. Cancer, she says, has taught her some “interesting facts;” namely, that she does not want her husband to date if she dies.
In “George Orwell Was a Friend of Mine,” Johnson returns to a theme he addressed in “Orphan Master’s Son”–totalitarian governments. Set in Germany, shortly after reunification, the story gives the views of a former East German warden of Hohenschonhausen who seems to miss the old days.
The eponymous “Fortune Smiles,” is about an odd reversal. A North Korean man is taken against his will to South Korea by a friend. Missing his past life, Sun-ho tries to lift off in a homemade balloon near the border.
This brilliant collection of short stories and National Book Award winner is not to be missed.