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The Mother Garden: Stories
Synopses & Reviews
Robin Romm's arresting and resonant stories take on the fundamental themes of the human condition: mortality, loyalty, and love. In fresh and irreverent prose, Romm captures the mo-ments before and after loss, mining the depths of grief with wit and grace.
The stories in The Mother Garden are at once vividly realistic and infused with the bizarre — a man uses a chicken egg to test whether he is ready for fatherhood; a daughter plants a garden of mothers to replace her own; a family's ghosts literally fall through the ceiling, disrupting daily life; a woman finds her father sleeping in the desert after twenty-six years of living without him. People stumble in relationships, start families, struggle with illness, learn to mourn — and as in life, these acts are consuming, magical, and disorienting.
Sharply funny and deeply moving, this extraordinary collection introduces a young writer of fierce originality and prodigious talent.
"These stories are fantastic — in both senses of the word. They are also eerie and moving, and they mark the debut of a very gifted young writer." Ann Packer
"The Mother Garden presents a wonderful new voice. I found the stories full of lively quirkiness, many individual sentences pulsing with surprising word choices and imagery, and graceful endings that made me smile — sometimes quite nervously, but always appreciatively." Ann Beattie
"Imagination soars over sorrow in these heartfelt, darkly comic — and most important — fearless stories. Robin Romm is a writer of tremendous grace, and this is a striking first collection." Peter Orner
"These fresh, unpredictable stories tackle the most difficult of subjects — death — with a fairy-tale strangeness that makes them unique. With dreamlike clarity, Romm charts the altered state of grief, beckoning us into a surreal yet sharply familiar world." Eric Puchner
"In her embrace of the off-kilter (one story is aptly titled 'The Tilt'), Romm is mining the same vein as Aimee Bender and Judy Budnitz, whose recent collections have featured, respectively, a pumpkin-head family and a woman whose pregnancy lasts for years. But Romm is a close-up magician, more intimate and less instinctively fabulist, and most of her work leaves room for rational interpretation." Gregory Cowles, New York Times Book Review
"Robin Romm has a darkly humorous tone, an eye for surreal possibilities and an engrossing voice that establishes distance without sacrificing emotional effect. This debut collection augurs a promising future for her." The Miami Herald
"The bizarre twists in Romm's otherwise familiar stories require the reader to take leaps of faith, but the author handles the material delicately and matter-of-factly, making it believable. Imaginative and insightful." Kirkus Reviews
"A combination of spare prose and fantastic events make Romm's seemingly simple tales startling and compelling." Booklist
Written with humor, wisdom, and imagination, the stories collected here capture the moments before and after loss. In fresh and irreverent prose, Romm weaves together tales of mothers, fathers, lovers, dogs, and objects that disappear and reappear.
About the Author
Robin Romm is the author of the critically acclaimed short story collection, The Mother Garden, which was a finalist for the 2008 PEN USA Fiction Award. Born and raised in Eugene, Oregon, she currently lives in Berkeley, California, and New Mexico, where she is assistant professor of creative writing and literature at the College of Santa Fe.
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