Men in disaur suits. A Norwegian freakazoid millionaire. Cats and catharsis, somber symbols, listless lives going off the rails. Pluck, persistence, and the pursuit of happiness. In the tradition of Joyce's Dubliners, Demigods on Speedway is a portrait of a city that reflects the recession-era Southwest. Inspired by tales from Greek mythology, these gritty heroes and heroines struggle to find their place in the cosmos. Each of these linked stories develops the extremes of the modern psyche: an executive struggling to understand his wife's illness even as he compulsively cheats on her, a teenage runaway whose attraction to her twin is bound to fail, an overweight boy vicariously experiencing true love through the tales of his trainer, a car-wash attendant with outsized dreams of Hollywood. Characters with mythical-sounding names like Dagfinn and Zero plot their courses through a sky riddled with flawed constellations. Sheehan's edgy language aptly reveals her characters as they lurch toward the next day's irreverent beginning. As the characters' lives overlap, their stories carry mythology out of the past and into a very modern dilemma: the cumulative sense that here is a city with its own demigods, individuals struggling to survive under siege while passionately seeking to make something immortal in their lives.
Aurelie Sheehan is the author of two novels and two short story collections, most recently Jewelry Box: A Collection of Histories . Her short fiction has appeared in Conjunctions , Fence , The Mississippi Review , New England Review , Ploughshares , and The Southern Review . She teaches fiction at the University of Arizona.