The Price of Eggs
Stories by Anne Panning
January 1, 1992 • 5.5 x 8.5 • 160 pages • 978-0-918273-95-6
Short stories depicting individuals trying to live with and without their dysfunctional families, clinging to whatever stability they can find.
“Newcomer Panning tracks the dreams and travails of a passel of hard-luck Minnesotans. A chronically depressed, perpetually medicated woman (‘I’m Joan, the sick one, don’t mind when I throw my lamp against the wall’) uneasily coexists with her older sister Lillian and Lillian’s alcoholic boyfriend (‘I hate him and he hates me’). An unsightly facial cyst hampers Rollie, a lab technician, in finding a girlfriend; loyal Harlan, an 18-year-old hired farmhand, is unfairly booted from his job when his wife is nine months pregnant; 12-year-old Ivan’s father ran off with the librarian, leaving him to cope with his unbalanced mother and a styful of unruly pigs; and trailer-park denizen Lizzie has an alcoholic father who ekes out a meager living as a barber, and a farmer uncle who sexually abuses his daughter in Lizzie’s presence. This barrage of indignities and sorrows fails to juice up Panning’s mostly flat and mediocre prose. However, the title story about a husband’s happy remarriage in the wake of a car accident that renders his beloved first wife brain-damaged—is poignant and skillful. Here a chorus of voices—the husband, both his wives, his daughter by his first marriage—demonstrates life’s random preciousness and precariousness.” —Publishers Weekly
“I loved these sad children, these heartbroken mothers and fathers. Anne Panning writes with a sure hang and a steady eye about the lives of real people in distress. Hers is a remarkable talent, one that bears watching.” —Larry Brown
“A stunning debut. Anne Panning’s voice is fresh and alive with magic. Writing about people whose working and living is too often invisible in literature, she gives us the intricate music of their language and the elaborate architecture of their dreams. You’ll never forget these stories.” —Jonis Agee
“The Price of Eggs signifies the emergence of a writer able to look unflinchingly at the motions of the human heart and reveal them in acts and gestures exquisitely chosen. Anne Panning must have been born writing.” —Philip O’Conner