The People Who Report More Stress: Stories by Alejandro Varela
From Astra House:
“A searing collection about gentrification, racism, and sexuality. […] Varela provides invaluable insight on the ways stress impacts the characters’ lives, and how they persevere. Readers will be floored.”—Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)
“Alejandro Varela is one of my favorite short story writers . . . An iconoclast of tenderness, a compass in the storm this life always is.” —Alexander Chee, author of How to Write an Autobiographical Novel
“The People Who Report More Stress dissects the minutiae of relationships to self, city, space, and sensibility so we don’t numbly succumb to the ‘structured order of things.'”—Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore, author of The Freezer Door
The People Who Report More Stress is a collection of interconnected stories brimming with the anxieties of people who retreat into themselves while living in the margins, acutely aware of the stresses that modern life takes upon the body and the body politic.
In “Midtown-West Side Story,” Álvaro, a restaurant worker struggling to support his family, begins selling high-end designer clothes to his co-workers, friends, neighbors, and the restaurant’s regulars in preparation for a move to the suburbs.
“The Man in 512” tracks Manny, the childcare worker for a Swedish family, as he observes the comings and goings of an affluent co-op building, all the while teaching the children Spanish through Selena’s music catalog.
“Comrades” follows a queer man with radical politics who just ended a long-term relationship and is now on the hunt for a life partner. With little tolerance for political moderates, his series of speed dates devolve into awkward confrontations that leave him wondering if his approach is the correct one.
A collection of humorous, sexy, and highly neurotic tales about parenting, long-term relationships, systemic and interpersonal racism, and class conflict from the author of The Town of Babylon, The People Who Report More Stress deftly and poignantly expresses the frustration of knowing the problems and solutions to our society’s inequities but being unable to do anything about them.