A hard-edged commentary on what it means to be a contemporary heterosexual male. Hearts are broken, egos are bruised and redemption is nowhere in sight — yet in each story, the characters shine through. They are fucked-up, human, and insatiable in their quest for something: pleasure, death, feeling alive.
School of the Art Institute of Chicago student monthly
Twenty Questions turns interior loose ends into sometimes dark, sometimes humorous vignettes. McComas isn’t so sure of the answers, but he knows asking the questions is important. Join him.
– Chicago Tribune Online
These engaging stories leave some questions unanswered and offer a handful of new ones to ponder. Twenty Questions is highly recommended reading.
– The Midwest Book Review
The big question — “Why?” — is, of course, never answered. But by the end, intrigued, you start to think it’s asking the questions, wanting to know, that keeps us going. You close this book less certain but probably wiser than you were when you opened it.”
– Next. . . Magazine
Paul McComas’ aptly titled collection introduces us to a series of characters who struggle with doubt. . . . At the end of each tale, questions remain, suggesting that life’s inherent ambiguities challenge belief. [Yet] ultimately, McComas’ stories are about hope. Life’s questions, no matter their number, lead to deeper understandings of ourselves and others.
– Christian Century
Humorous yet eerie. . . . There is an odd feeling of longing that the reader is left with to ponder.
– Independent Publisher
This collection demonstrates the author’s strong use of language and description to create a mood and spark a feeling in a very readable way. Twenty Questions takes you in instantly and does not let go. . . . The only disappointment is when the book ends and you’re left wanting more.
– Illinois Center for the Book News & Views
Explores and defines the cracks in our [cultural] facade. . . . These tales are ripe with riveting, unsettling images and chance-taking.”
– Milwaukee City Edition
A man of many talents, [McComas uses] ambiguous endings and well-developed characters [to] give the reader stories and characters that live on in the imagination once the story is over. . . . His unique writing style has made him a critical success.
– Indiana University Daily Student
McComas deftly guides his readers through each story with a clever and irreverent sense of humor before leveling them with a closing sentence or two striking directly at the heart of the narrative’s meaning. Very well written and entertaining, Twenty Questions is a thoroughly enjoyable read.
– Evanston RoundTable
For me, reading Paul McComas’ book was like opening up my skull and allowing his vivid words to play on my brain’s stage — just like having him back at the Green Mill, twisting our heads at the Slam.
– Marc Smith
author of Crowdpleaser
founder of the Poetry Slam
[“Now I Know My ABCs” is an] excellent story. . .well-rendered indeed. . .lively, touching, altogether convincing.
– John Barth,
National Book Award-winning author of Coming Soon!!!! and Lost in the Funhouse
The short story remains the most interesting and challenging literary form of our time, and Paul McComas’ new collection is a fine addition to the genre. His characters are observed with refreshing candor and invigorating wit, and his clear voice cuts right to the bone. Seeking hope in a cynical world, and love in a lustful one, these stories return us to those poignant places where the reckless energies of youth intersect the rueful insights of maturity. McComas’ Twenty Questions are well worth the asking.
– Mark Dintenfass,
author of Old World, New World
McComas makes ordinary and everyday events seem extraordinary. He also demonstrates sensitivity to the rhythms of language and the ability to describe banal urban and suburban spaces with a canny sense of accuracy tinged with humor.
– Mimi White, co-author of Media Knowledge
Professor of Media and Women’s Studies Director, Northwestern University
I’m sixty-one, and when I grow up, I hope I write as well as Paul McComas.
– Bill Janz
Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel columnist
During these cynical times, it is a pleasure to read a writer like Paul McComas. McComas acknowledges that circumstances or human frailties often cause hearts to break, but underlying everything is his faith that broken hearts can and will be mended. The reader will come away from Twenty Questions feeling rejuvenated, as if spring showers have passed overhead and washed away disbelief.
– Tim W. Brown,
author of Left of the Loop and Deconstruction Acres
A paradigm shift in short story writing. Readers will recognize themselves repeatedly in McComas’ comic genius, rich character development, and uncanny scripts. A must-read.
– Ellen Horovitz,
author of A Leap of Faith: The Call to Art
Paul McComas’ stories operate on two levels. On the surface, something interesting happens (and the stories are always interesting). This something may be ordinary, extreme, or even surreal, but always underneath is a deep and true understanding of human relationships. This understanding is so deep that all of his stories, even the most fanciful, read as reports from real life.
– G. Murray Thomas,
author of Cows on the Freeway
Twenty Questions is an impressive sustained performance. These are deeply empathetic stories told with unusual wisdom in a seductive voice.
– William Hart,
author of Never Fade Away
After reading Twenty Questions, I have two more: who is this Paul McComas, and where has he been all these years?
– Erik Moe
author of Tales of a Young Urban Failure