Nothing much cheery happens in Corrina Wycoff’s debut collection, O Street (OV Books). Set mostly in Chicago, the interconnected stories center on one Beth Dinard, who as a teen fled her life of poverty in Jersey City and her distant, critical mother, who appears by turns as a heroin-addicted, trick-turning lowlife and a heroin-addicted reciter of Shakespeare and T.S. Eliot. Beth appears in the book in different phases of her life–as a kid longing for a kitten, as a young woman struggling with various relationships (with women), as a young single mother herself–but always hoping for something better and longing for love. Wycoff favors restraint over melodrama and peppers her stories with nicely observed details: after a drag on a cigarette, one character “felt a bit calmer when the smoke caught behind her sternum, a nice feeling, like the tightening pull of a loose shoelace.” That there aren’t any happy endings is actually quite satisfying; if there were Wycoff would be betraying her characters, and the stories wouldn’t ring as true. a Release party with a silent auction, a reading by Charles Blackstone, and a wine tasting with Alpana Singh, Sun 3/18, 8 PM, Bad Dog Tavern, 4535 N. Lincoln, 773-334-4040, $10 donation requested. With Alex Shakar and Stacey Levine, Mon 3/19, 7 PM, Book Cellar, 4736 N. Lincoln, 773-293-2665. With Elizabeth Crane and Laura Ruby, Thu 3/22, 7:30 PM, Women & Children First, 5233 N. Clark, 773-769-9299.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Diane Grannis.