These ten magical stories are primarily set in Pittsburgh-area river towns, where Italian American women and girls draw from their culture and folklore to bring life and a sense of wonder to a seemingly barren region of the Rust Belt. Each story catapults the ordinary into something original and unpredictable. A sceptical journalist scopes out the bar where the town mayor, in seemingly perfect health, is drinking with his buddies and celebrating what he claims is the last day of his life. A woman donates her dead mother's clothes to a thrift shop but learns that their destiny is not what she expected. A ten-year-old girl wrestles with the facts of life as she watches her neighbour struggle to get pregnant while her teenage sister finds it all too easy. A high school girl hallucinates in a steamy hospital laundry room and discovers she can see her co-workers' futures. A developer's wrecking ball is no match for the legend of Giovanna's green thumb in the title story ""Giovanna's 86 Circles."" Quirky and profound, Corso's magical leaps uncover the everyday poetry of these women's lives.
Paola Corso is the recipient of the 2000 Sherwood Anderson Fiction Prize and was nominated for a Pushcart Press Editors' Book Award. She is a New York Foundation for the Arts poetry fellow and author of a book of poems, Death by Renaissance. A native of the Pittsburgh area, she now lives in Brooklyn and teaches fiction in New York City.