Joseph Salvatore reads from To Assume a Pleasing Shape (BOA Editions, 2011)

In his debut story collection, Joseph Salvatore presents characters damaged and yet dignified, yearning for something that they seem unable to identify, much less to ask for.  A body-pierced goth girl cage-dances for a living while putting herself through school. A New York City academic reevaluates her closest relationships while considering breast-reduction surgery. A chatty Gulf War veteran is plagued by a sexual-identity crisis. The characters in this collection search for meaning through the crucible of bodies—both their own and others’. Salvatore’s stylized writing coaxes readers into murky territories as his characters spiral deeper into existential rabbit holes.

“With wit and energy, Salvatore writes his stylish, modern stories that tempt you with their playfulness, crush you with their poignancy, and inspire you with their spirit. What a relief to read. Their rhythm, their strength, their strangeness—bravo!”

— Deb Olin Unferth, author of Vacation