What a find! Gowdy is an almost unfairly gifted writer whose modus operandi is to take some off-beat, off-the-wall subject and make it both touching and deeply human.
What kind of subject? Well, there's a girl with an odd kind of siamese twin (two legs who stick out from her chest), who goes to school quite normally, is loved by her family and, of course, runs off to join the circus. She's beautiful, and normal-enough looking (when she dresses to hide those legs) to pass in "normal" society, and she meets and marries a man. It's an old story, yes, but in one line, Gowdy puts a twist on it that is at once liberating and heartbreaking.
There's an old, non entirely sane woman, whose only joy in life is in taking in deformed and abused foster children; a woman who rediscovers her own sexuality when a peeping Tom pays a visit; and a young girl who can only love corpses. Gowdy's self-confidence, in tackling these themes with both grace and ease, is astonishing; the beauty of her prose, in making them poetic, touching and almost unbearably poignant, is equally astonishing.
Gowdy's writing is never abstruse, she never leaves the reader hanging; her stories are told in a straightforward manner, with a classical structure (beginning, middle, crisis plot point, and resolution/end), her characters and dialogue completely believable. The book will probably be most favored by fans of horror or fantasy, only because they have an easier ability to suspend disbelief. Others, however, should be equally moved and impressed.
I am anxious to read any other stories by this brilliant and moving writer.