In Sure Things & Last Chances, Lou Gaglia’s characters tip love rivals into lakes, try private eye work, and go to war with ants. They are dangled over decks and kicked by horses. They revisit their younger selves and contemplate love and death and beauty. In between, a straw man joins the fire department, a petulant editor rejects classics, and a man gets himself lost in the woods, despite his great height.
With equal parts of wry humor and pathos, Gaglia introduces us to a myriad of engaging characters, all searching for a foothold on life. His stories are like short films that shine a light in between the seams of possibility. Bursting with urgency, each piece pops off the page, leaving the reader satisfied but wanting more.
—LEN KUNTZ, author of I’m Not Supposed To Be Here, and Neither Are You.
The characters in Sure Things & Last Chances are like extended family members whose drama-filled, late-night calls I’d probably avoid, but whose stories would have me handing them extra beers at family reunions. They muddle through heartbreaks and bad jobs, awkward gains and wrong turns, good intentions and outright horrible decisions with endless humor and steadfast determination. These are not stories you can easily predict or reduce to formula. They shake you this way and that, the way short fiction must.
—JEN KNOX, author of After the Gazebo and The Glass City
In his stories, Lou Gaglia can always find the mundane in the crazy and the crazy in the mundane. His characters are real and honestly brutal at times, but also capable of great tenderness in the most surprising of ways.”
– JEN MICHALSKI, author of The Tide King and The Summer She Was Under Water
Anyone who knows the city will recognize Lou Gaglia’s New York and the eccentric characters who inhabit it. The stories in Sure Things & Last Chances—some of them laugh-out-loud funny—are about struggle and longing, growing and changing, but also about a place these people call home. They aren’t high-flying Wall Street bankers; they’re young men and women who work at copy shops and donut stands, who go to Mets games or the race track, who are hoping for a lucky break. It’s a rewarding read and a quick trip to the real New York City.
– CLIFFORD GARSTANG, author of What the Zhang Boys Know
These are tales of the blue collar folks who make up the bulk of the population back east, people who work and play, and love and hate much like people in other places, but who respond to life’s challenges not with resignation or militancy, as we are accustomed to seeing in fiction based elsewhere, but with a resolve that is often perceived as attitude. Whatever ya got, we can take it.
– TAHOMA LITERARY REVIEW
It’s the realism of these stories, with their every person protagonists trying to make sense out of a violent and abusive world, that makes these stories all the more compelling.
– AMSTERDAM QUARTERLY
Gaglia is capable of real beauty: “Hunger”, a tale about love left behind in Rome, resonates with a dreamlike quality, melancholy and sweet. He has a deft touch with humor as well, catching the nuances of casual speech, with its contradictions and irony.
“About Beauty” is another treasure: a story which explores issues close to many parents: do you leave the city because you have a child, or will the child be stifled by suburban sterility? What is the right trade-off? Is it really safer outside the city, or is that an illusion?...Gaglia doesn’t offer answers, only empathy. Which is more than enough to justify reading this book.
– AT THE INKWELL
Gaglia crafts his New York with a great sense of place, and he leaves you rooting for these lost little people of the urban world…Even his most uplifting stories seem to have lost souls trying to find their way. And, in a broader sense, they are all the everyday man trying to find his place in an overwhelming world. The last line in his story “Private Eye” is a good clue as to how many of his characters see the world: “It is not safe in this world at all, even if your life is just nothing.”
—TOASTED CHEESE LITERARY JOURNAL