COMETS by Joseph Costa
COMETS has been announced as a finalist in the 2021 AMERICAN FICTION AWARDS for literary fiction. The twelve-story, linked collection, Comets, follows through-line protagonist, Roberto, as he grows from a working teenager influenced by the men in his father’s cabinet shop, to a disillusioned 42, unwittingly trying to fill his father’s shoes, while searching for a deeper understanding of himself and his life. Set in Ybor City, Tampa’s Latin Quarter, the stories capture a microcosm of blue collar problems, with implications that go beyond economic and cultural boundaries, illuminating a greater understanding of the human experiences we all share, while loss of childhood resonates as an overarching theme.
Publication Date: July 14, 2020
Publication Date: July 14, 2020
Roberto matures, and that maturing process is raw, difficult, but authentic. Most readers won't agree with his decisions or the decisions of the other characters. But would we do better? I believe that's part of the point: every decision we make does matter for the rest of our lives, whether for good or evil. We cannot possibly know how our decisions today will impact tomorrow or years from now. That means we need to be wise and careful about our decisions and not make rash decisions based on emotions, circumstances, or in reaction to the actions and words of others. We need a greater Wisdom than we can find in ourselves. The greatest hope of all in human life has to be in Someone Higher and Greater than we are. Maybe that's why we find Roberto looking to the comets at one point in the story: there must be more than just us and this life. This is a thoughtful and compelling compilation.
Joseph Costa presents a family’s life journey with elegance and clarity by examining how much time plays a pivotal role in changing people’s perspectives and how they develop their own philosophy in life. . Comets is an important piece of work because it represents the important transition that we all go through in life.
The linked stories in Joseph Costa's Comets remind me of fiction by the late great Denis Johnson and Thom Jones. Costa, like those writers, writes movingly, hilariously, and empathetically about people on the margins: boxers, veterans, petty criminals, not-so-petty criminals, strivers, strays of all kinds, and especially the cabinet makers of Tampa, Florida. The characters in these stories are hard-boiled, but they care—about each other, and about life, which hasn't quite worked out for them, but might, yet, and soon. Maybe even in the next story. It's impossible for the reader not to care about them, and root for them, too. What a wonderful book!
Brock Clarke, author of Who Are You, Calvin Bledsoe? and The Happiest People in the World
Joseph Costa’s Comets cuts across the literary cosmos searing his signature in the stars. These stories feature blue-collar Floridians caught in the teeth of the daily grind. Many of the pieces examine the complexities of family and the devastating ways that honor, tradition, and responsibility create fissures in the human spirit. But no matter how far we plummet into deep-space darkness, with wisdom and kindness, Costa always finds a way to scatter light.
Jason Ockert, author of Wasp Box and Neighbors of Nothing
Joseph Costa's Comets is a loving intergenerational look at Ybor City and the men who built it and were built by it. The collection is as insightful and satisfying and full of Lawrence's "subtle interrelatedness" as any novel. It hums with buried circuitry."
Kevin Moffett, author of Further Interpretations of Real-Life Events