First Person Imperfect: Reviews

This collection is full of humor and vitality.
School of the Art Institute of Chicago student monthly

First Person Imperfect, an anthology by ten Chicago-area writers, introduces readers to 19 diverse narrators while exploring themes of love, loss, and identity. The stories range immensely, from a woman’s quest to find the perfect (or less than perfect) apartment to a boy pondering his sister’s suicide to a woman finding a stranger’s identity a better fit than her own…Editor Paul McComas’ engaging “I Was A Teenage Disco Prince” follows an inexperienced adolescent caught up in the vanishing mystique of the dying days of disco. The main character never takees himself too seriously; rather, the disco prince progressively endears himself to the reader as he tries to define himself in this unforgettable era. In “Out of the Lobster Tank,” Sarah Morrill Condry charms us with her depiction of Pete, a young man working “a piss-ant little job at the Lobster Shack” whose tough and often crude demeanor is offset by his stinging heartbreak. The story skillfully illustrates the differences between the things we want, the things we have and the things we do not think we deserve. Emile Ferris’ “My Favorite Thing Is Monsters by Karen Reyes” is another tale that stands out. The young narrator’s engaging voice, the reverence she demonstrates for her Vietnam veteran brother, and her commiseration with the lonely monsters of old movies makes her easy to enjoy getting to know…The tales these writers present are true enough, and the characters are imperfect in ways that define them as most fallibly human.
Evanston Round Table

[These] short stories make the ordinary extraordinary. Best are Sarah Morrill Condry’s “Out of the Lobster Tank,” Laura Allan-Simpson’s “How to Worry About Your Father,” Elizabeth Samet’s “My Mother Never Understood My Hair” and “The Details,” Drew Downing’s “Moms Don’t Eat Their Babies,” and the extremely excellent “The Sycamore Tree” by Lisa Beth Janis. How does one express one’s love for a father? Allen-Simpson’s story involves a simple phone call, many distractions, and the intense effort it sometimes takes to truly listen. How does a mother express love for a daughter? Samet says it all with a hair-do or three. Condry’s character works at a Lobster Shack, Samet’s character in “The Details” looks for a New York City apartment, and Janis’ spends his time climbing trees. Yes, traumatic things happen, and the characters’ lives change. Yet what engages most are lines like “The owner [of the apartment] is a paralegal who loves Celine Dion and owns DVDs of The Little Mermaid and Sleepless in Seattle, and I adore her anyway.” These are odd, lively, often funny stories — an overall delight to read.

“Paul McComas has taken a group of young writers with big hearts and collected their stories in a big-hearted book. The poignancy, humor and craft contained in First Person Imperfect make this anthology much closer to perfect than the title suggests.”
Tim Brown, author
Deconstruction Acres and Left of the Loop

“A varied and wonderful collection of new voices.”
Kathryn Montgomery, author
Doctors’ Stories

“This is a charming and diverse collection of original, emotional stories sung with passion; many pulse with angst and aspiration. The delightful ‘I Was a Teenage Disco Prince’ and ‘My Mother Never Understood My Hair’ are but two of the many gems found between these covers.”
William Hart, author
Never Fade Away

“There are fine moments within these pages. Very fine.”
Timothy Doyle, author
Going to Dolpo

“I was hooked from the very first story. And I stayed hooked as I met a variety of characters who were at once messy, violent, sad and again playful, loving, vulnerable. Stories where everyone wears their human-ness on their sleeve. Which is my favorite kind. On the page, and in real life.”
cin salach, poet, author
Looking for A Soft Place to Land