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Little, Brown and Company
<strong>"A ravishing collection, full of wisdom, grief, beauty, and especially surprise."--Anthony Doerr, author of <em>The Shell Collectors</em></strong><br><br>Peter<i> </i>Orner zeroes in on the strange ways our memories define us: A woman's husband dies before their divorce is finalized; a man runs for governor of Illinois and loses much more than an election; two brothers play beneath the infamous bridge at Chappaquiddick. Employing the masterful compression for which he has been widely praised, Orner presents a kaleidoscope of individual lives viewed in startling, intimate close-up.<br><br>Whether writing of Geraldo Rivera's attempt to reveal the contents of Al Capone's vault or of a father and daughter trying to outrun a hurricane, Orner illuminates universal themes. In stories that span considerable geographic ground--from Chicago to Wyoming, from Massachusetts to the Czech Republic--he writes of the past we can't seem to shake, the losses we can't make up for, and the power of our stories to help us reclaim what we thought was gone forever.<b></b>
Little, Brown and Company
<strong>An Amazon Best Book of the Month, August 2013:</strong> Peter Orner’s exquisite second collection of stories rambles across time and place, from postwar 1947 to 1978 to 1958, from Chappaquiddick to Chicago to the Czech Republic, each exposing a small, intimate moment. Like an uncomfortably candid photograph (the work of William Eggleston or Vivian Maier comes to mind), the stories are finite and tightly framed, some just a page or two. Some are whimsical, some sobering, and most conclude with a “wow” moment that requires a pause--to reflect on the horror or beauty of the story, or the bravado of the writer. In one of the strongest pieces, a boy-girl conversation about an ex-lover turns unexpectedly chilling, ending with the perfect closing line: “I said don’t touch me.” From a frightened dad suffering a “permanent state of mourning” to the “childless couple” murdered in their garage to the brothers looking back on the day they fished beneath the infamous bridge at Chappaquiddick, Orner’s characters are raw, exposed, often sad, and the dialogue conveys the uncomfortable sense that you’re spying on deeply personal conversations. In a year of high-profile collections (George Saunders, Karen Russell) Orner deserves a place among those who are bringing the short form back to new artistic heights. <em>--</em><em>Neal Thompson</em>