Familiar landscapes—city streets, coastal towns emptied of tourists, suburban neighborhoods—are backdrops for unfulfilled dreams: the luckiest man alive arouses the suspicions of those he most wants to befriend, a grieving lover invites herself into another's life, a young girl discovers her tea leaves reveal nothing as life-altering as those of her friend, the straying husband pays a debt for his and his son's obsessions.
The stories ask: Can you live any way forever? What links them is what links all of us: the desire to belong, the need to heal, the fear of what happens next.
"Apart from range in Bewildered, the level of excellence lies in the ways in which the author navigates so many different kinds of territories—first person, second person, third person, the canted realities of childhood, the accumulating losses of middle and even old age. The writing is always economical without ever being minimal."—Pam Houston, Grace Paley Prize judge and author of Contents May Have Shifted: A Novel and Cowboys Are My Weakness: Stories
"Panciera's first foray into fiction is a strong debut."—Publishers Weekly
"Bewildered collects ten short stories that widen the cracks in conventional facades--pleasant neighborliness, self-sacrificing motherhood--to expose what squirms beneath. Though the stories vary in tone, theme, and subject, they're unified by the author's gift for the incisive one-liner, the wry observation that illuminates the whole."—Necessary Fiction
"The characters experience not so much one large epiphany but many smaller ones, tiny pinpricks of illumination in their dark days. . . . The losses in these stories are not easily resolved. Too much has been relinquished, too little expressed to fix all the problems of the past. But maybe, just maybe, the characters here will find their way out of a bewildered state."—Providence Journal
"Readers turn the page not necessarily to find out what happens next, but to gain a fuller and deeper understanding of the characters that populate her stories. Male characters. Female characters. Young characters. Old characters. Middle-aged characters. Married. Single. Widowed. Straight. Gay."—Wicked Local Ipswich
"A deceptively simple, calm, and easy to read exploration of emotion. . . . With gentle exploration of human passions and pitfalls, the articulate stories in this book provide the reader a sense of immediacy and participation."—Westerly Sun
"Bewildered is a wonderfully crafted collection of stories that raises important questions about what it means to be in the world and suggests that the answers might just surprise us. . . . The characters in Bewildered may never fully understand or control who they ultimately are, but Panciera's stories suggest that this is really not the goal. We place our stake in the ground not to say, This is who I am, but only This is me in relationship to others. Like the proverbial tree in the forest, if we fall, it doesn't matter if we make a noise if there is no one there to hear us."—Colorado Review