by Robert Olen Butler (2006).
A strange and beautiful collection, which I read in a just a few hours. It was easy to just let these words wash over me, but stopping and reading carefully and picking out the subtle details really made me appreciate Butler's style. He is witty, touching, and sexy all in the space of a few words.
I especially enjoyed the stories of those who lost their heads in the French Revolution (Madame du Barry was unexpectedly touching); the thought that so many continue to be decapitated in connection with conflicts in the Middle East came as an uneasy revelation.
I will certainly be seeking out more of Butler's work in the future.