He characters in Dan Chaon’s third collection of disquieting, nocturnal stories are haunted by past sins-easily damaged, plagued by guilt plunged into darkness, and certain that the universe is sending them messages. In the title story, a baby is bom with two heads. Though the ‘parasitic» head has awareness-eyes blink, mouth sucks-it will leech the life from the perfectly formed “host» baby if not removed. To this creepy premise Dan adds an accident involving the baby’s father that creates an almost unbearable sense of foreboding. In two stories-«Patrick Lane, Flabbergasted» and “To Psychic Underworld»-characters receive mysterious missives. One man looks for meaning in graffiti, in his parents’ suicide note, and in words written (while asleep?) on his own skin. Another man, grieving the death of his wife, sees patterns in found notes. Though both men desperately want to link these events into something meaningful, nothing concrete emerges. Dan begins stories brilliantly, but often ends, like his characters, reaching for a revelation that either confuses or confirms what we already know. He builds dread like a master, though, keeping the strings taut to the end.

Longtime friends and footwear designers Stephen Gill and Hiro Chen are tackling the shoe-making business together this season with a new line of simply rendered moccasins, sneakers, and boots debuting under the name how? (say it «who»). Expect a less-is- more approach: The pair aim to emphasize production quality by eschewing design flourishes and making use of a minimalist aesthetic. “We’re deliberately steering toward something fresh and uncomplicated, with none of the additional baggage-like vantage styling or design collaborations-that are now commonplace,» says Gill, a veteran of brands including Dr. Martens, Ben Sherman, and Evisu. For how? Is debut season, look for desert boots, all-purpose sneakers, and even sleek oxfords in tonal leather- and-suede combinations.

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