Hit Your Brights captures people in tough spots, often of their own making. Fusing humor and tragedy, these thirteen gritty stories keep readers in suspense. Danger lurks, the needle skips, the bomb goes off, and the empties pile up. Outcomes are unpredictable, but the car always starts, and, sometimes, love wins.
Constance Squires casts the diminished circumstances of her characters with authentic detail familiar to any reader who has spent time in flyover country—a swath of boom-and-bust middle America that often seems forgotten. Here, marriages, families, and friendships all hit crisis points in a mutable world of army bases, casinos, truck stops, churches, and bars.
Hit Your Brights showcases a virtuosic range of styles and perspectives. The title story, told in second person, excavates the rationalizations of an alcoholic stumbling through the inexorable progress of her disease. After downing nine Rolling Rocks and three tequila shots, she races her car to the nearest liquor store before it closes, turning on her high beams to ease her double vision.
In “Dopamine Agonistes,” a family man, recently diagnosed with Parkinson’s, ventures out to a casino and meets a child he tries to help. Other stories focus on people who find themselves in difficult, potentially violent situations. In “Wounding Radius,” two young women are checking on their marijuana crop in the Wichita Mountains outside of Fort Sill when they are discovered by a troubled soldier who has gone AWOL. And in “An Unscheduled Stop,” a mother traveling with her baby encounters diners at a roadside McDonald’s who might—or might not—be child traffickers.
Beautifully crafted, with a distinctly modern edge, the stories in Hit Your Brights give voice to women and men, young and old, overlooked and disenfranchised, who inhabit worlds that feel at once strange and familiar.