Distributed for Autumn House Press
Wendy Wimmer’s debut short story collection, Entry Level, contains a range of characters who are trying to find, assert, or salvage their identities. These fifteen stories center around the experience of being underemployed—whether by circumstance, class, gender, race, or other prevailing factors—and the toll this takes on an individual. Wimmer pushes the boundaries of reality, creating stories that are funny, fantastic, and at times terrifying. Her characters undergo feats of endurance, heartbreak, and loneliness, all while trying to succeed in a world that so often undervalues them. From a young marine biologist suffering from imposter syndrome and a haunting to a bingo caller facing another brutal snowstorm and a creature that may or not be an angel, Wimmer’s characters are all confronting an oppressive universe that seemingly operates against them or is, at best, indifferent to them. These stories reflect on the difficulties of modern-day survival and remind us that piecing together a life demands both hope and resilience.
Entry Level was selected by Deesha Philyaw as the winner of the 2021 Autumn House Fiction Prize.
160 pages | 5 1/2 x 8 1/2
"This gleefully subversive debut presents fifteen weird, wild, and wonderful stories of everyday folk surviving in a world gone haywire. From a grieving man who gets texts from the dead to a roller rink that reverses aging, Entry Level, like its title story, is strange magic indeed."
"If punchy first sentences are to your taste, Wimmer’s Entry Level is the book for you. 'When Mary Ellen’s left breast grew back on its own during our Saturday dinner break, we had confirmation that something weird was happening.' Many intros seem designed to startle; several stories enter fantastical terrain. In the delightful 'Texts from Beyond,' a company purportedly helps people send messages to deceased relatives. Equally affecting are stories more rooted in the real, where Wimmer gets closer to character and emotion, such as 'Billet-Doux,' told via unsent letters addressed to celebrities, random people, inanimate objects, a recurring guy on the BART and the protagonist herself."
"An intriguing, wide-ranging story collection with a hint of magic. The real and the surreal drive the 15 stories in this debut, many of which have been previously published in other formats. . . . The elements of magical realism are presented without fanfare, and Wimmer succeeds in creating a world where they are entirely plausible. Fans of Karen Russell, Veronica Schanoes, and Connie Willis are all likely to find stories to enjoy in the collection, as Wimmer blends traditional literary fiction with a touch of the fantastic. Vivid, thought-provoking stories make an enjoyable and challenging book.
Kirkus (starred review)
"Wimmer’s innovative and darkly humorous debut collection employs emergency situations and fantastical elements as the protagonists struggle to make a living with low-paying jobs. . . . When Mary Ellen, who had a mastectomy, discovers her breast has regrown, the narrator’s understated reaction perfectly sums up the mood of Wimmer’s characters: 'We had confirmation that something weird was happening.' Throughout, Wimmer makes the most of strange situations."
“In the world of Entry Level, no job is too small, nor is it ever just a job. In cities and across rural landscapes and dreamscapes, we find clerks and corpses, mothers and daughters, cruise entertainers and scientists, grappling with longing and loss. The stories are, at turns, heartfelt and hilarious, wry and whimsical, full of magic and mayhem. These are well-crafted love stories, ghost stories, and stories of everyday people just trying to navigate life’s cruelties and impossibilities. Wimmer writes with an intimacy and immediacy that take you down a fresh rabbit hole from the first line, each time. Each tale is as smart, exquisite, and surprising as the next. I really didn’t want this collection to end!”
Deesha Philyaw, author of The Secret Lives of Church Ladies
"The stories in Entry Level are propulsive, funny, delightfully unpredictable, and utterly addictive. Wimmer is a true original—a bright star of her generation. Here’s hoping Entry Level is the beginning of a long, fruitful career!"
Dan Chaon, author of Sleepwalk
Table of Contents
Where She Went
Texts from beyond
The Bog King