Results of the Los Angeles Times Book Prize in the year 2000.
In just a few years David Means has emerged as one of the most distinct voices of his generation, producing superbly generous stories that-like the work of his predecessors Raymond Carver and Alice Munro-push the form to a new level. Bringing together Means’s unforgettable characters and plots in diamond-cutter prose, Assorted Fire Events is a major literary event.
From a married man consummating a hazy summer affair and getting lost in a reverie that explains the “far-away look in his eyes” (“Coitus”) to a recently widowed mother who must decide what to do with a video of her honeymoon love-making (“The Widow Predicament”), David Means probes the depths of the human heart. The stories collected here range the American landscape: suburban sprawl leads to disastrous consequences in Pushcart Prize-winning “What They Did;” a Depression-era hobo holds on to a freight train that roars through the desert night as well as his scattered past (“The Grip”); sneaking into a wedding…[more]
It is New York City in 1939. Joe Kavalier, a young artist who has also been trained in the art of Houdini-esque escape, has just pulled off his greatest feat to date: smuggling himself out of Nazi-occupied Prague. He is looking to make big money, fast, so that he can bring his family to freedom. His cousin, Brooklyn’s own Sammy Clay, is looking for a collaborator to create the heroes, stories, and art for the latest novelty to hit the American dreamscape: the comic book. Out of their fantasies, fears, and dreams, Joe and Sammy weave the legend of that unforgettable champion the Escapist. And inspired by the beautiful and elusive Rosa Saks, a woman who will be linked to both men by powerful ties of desire, love, and shame, they create the otherworldly mistress of the night, Luna Moth. As the shadow of Hitler falls across Europe and the world, the Golden Age of comic books has begun.
Peter Ho Davies’s award-winning debut collection, The Ugliest House in the World, drew comparisons to the work of Raymond Carver, James Joyce, and V. S. Naipaul. The Washington Post hailed it as “astounding…Davies has left a unique, definitive footprint in the soil of contemporary short fiction.”
In his new collection, Davies’s unforgettable characters—a Chinese son gambling with professional mourners, a mixed-race couple who experience a close encounter—strive for a love that transcends time, race, and sexuality. These are the stories of a sandwich generation—children of one century, adults of the next—caught between debts to their parents and what they owe their own offspring. Shot through with humor and grace, Equal Love confirms Davies’s reputation as one of his generation’s foremost writers.
It is 1998, the year in which America is whipped into a frenzy of prurience by the impeachment of a president, and in a small New England town, an aging classics professor, Coleman Silk, is forced to retire when his colleagues decree that he is a racist. The charge is a lie, but the real truth about Silk would have astonished his most virulent accuser. Coleman Silk has a secret. But it’s not the secret of his affair, at seventy-one, with Faunia Farley, a woman half his age with a savagely wrecked past - a part-time farmhand and a janitor at the college where, until recently, he was the powerful dean of faculty. And it’s not the secret of Coleman’s alleged racism, which provoked the college witch-hunt that cost him his job and, to his mind, killed his wife. Nor is it the secret of misogyny, despite the best efforts of his ambitious young colleague, Professor Delphine Roux, to expose him as a fiend. Coleman’s secret has been kept for fifty years: from his wife, his four children, his colleagues, and his friends,…[more]
Alice, Corvus, and Annabel, each a motherless child, are an unlikely circle of friends. One filled with convictions, another with loss, the third with a worldly pragmatism, they traverse an air-conditioned landscape eccentric with signs and portents—from the preservation of the living dead in a nursing home to the presentation of the dead as living in a wildlife museum—accompanied by restless, confounded adults. A father lusts after his handsome gardener even as he’s haunted (literally) by his dead wife; a heartbroken dog runs afoul of an angry neighbor; a young stroke victim drifts westward, his luck running from worse to awful; a sickly musician for whom Alice develops an attraction is drawn instead toward darker imaginings and solutions; and an aging big-game hunter finds spiritual renewal through his infatuation with an eight-year-old—the formidable Emily Bliss Pickless. With nature thoroughly routed and the ambiguities of existence on full display, life and death continue in directions both invisible and apparent.