Associate Professor of English and fiction writer Thomas Payne has released his third book, “A Boy’s Book of Nervous Breakdowns: Stories,” under his pen name, Tom Paine. Published by LSU Press, the insightful and provocative stories in this collection spring from a series of seismic events that rocked the post-millennium world. News headlines from the last decade―the fall of Baghdad, the Occupy Wall Street movement, and the BP oil spill―not only inspire the settings but also raise ethical questions that percolate throughout this ominous and timely work. A stark reminder of the challenges and resultant anxiety facing a global society, “A Boy’s Book of Nervous Breakdowns” depicts the simultaneously dreamlike and brutally real experience of witnessing contemporary political and environmental catastrophes. Paine approaches the second U.S. invasion of Iraq through the eyes of a CBS radio journalist and her desperate Iraqi translator as they report the opening months of the attack and dodge danger with a newborn in tow. In other stories, a father blames global warming for the drowning death of his daughter and journeys by horseback across the last of the Montana glaciers; a Japanese reggae band struggles under the radioactive umbrella of the Fukushima nuclear disaster; and a genius at Goldman Sachs invents a money-making algorithm, then ends his days with a tribe of headhunters in the Amazon.
Earlier this year, “The Cincinnati Review” published a blog post about Paine’s book as well as one of the collection’s short stories in its entirety: http://www.cincinnatireview.com/blog/tag/tom-paine/.
Paine’s first short story collection, Scar Vegas (Harcourt), was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year, a Pen/Hemingway Award finalist, a Village Voice “Writer on the Verge” pick, an Esquire “Hot List” book, a Barnes and Noble “Discover New Writers” pick, and was featured on National Public Radio. A finalist for the National Magazine Award, Paine has published stories in The New Yorker, Harper’s, Playboy, Zoetrope, The Boston Review, The New England Review, Glimmer Train, The Oxford American, One Story, Story, and elsewhere. His fiction has also appeared in the award anthologies The O. Henry Awards, The Pushcart Prize (twice), Best New Stories from the South, American Fiction X: Best Stories from Unpublished Writers, and The KGB Bar Reader. His novel The Pearl of Kuwait (Harcourt) was featured on public radio, reviewed nationally, and recently optioned.