The 14 wildly inventive stories in Melissa Fraterrigo’s new collection, The Longest Pregnancy (Livingston Press), could be episodes of The Twilight Zone. By turns sweet, sad, twisted, funny, disturbing, and downright creepy, there’s not a clunker in the bunch. Among Fraterrigo’s plotlines: an unhappy small-town housewife contemplates running away with her lover to Chicago but is enticed to stay home by an armchair that burps jewelry; a couple and the giants who live next door swap wives; the strongest woman in the world has trouble finding a boyfriend; a 40-year-old priest takes a schoolgirl he longs for to an adventure park where wild animals hunt people. Though the situations are outrageous, the characters seem utterly rational; Fraterrigo, an Evergreen Park native, has a real gift for blending the fanciful with the mundane. Thu 7/6, 7:30 PM, Women & Children First, 5233 N. Clark, 773-769-9299.

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