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Third Class Superheroby Charles Yu
Synopses & Reviews
Charles Yu experiments with form and genre to explore the stories we tell ourselves while navigating contemporary life. In Third Class Superhero, a would-be good guy must come to terms with the darkness in his heart. A couple living in the Luxury Car Commercial subdivision in "401(k)" are disappointed when their exotic vacation turns into a Life Insurance/Asset Management pitch. The author struggles to write the definitive biography of his mother in "Autobiographical Raw Material Unsuitable for the Mining of Fiction." In these and other stories, Yu's characters run up against the conventions and parameters of their artificial story lines while tackling the terrifying aspects of existence: mothers, jobs, spouses, the need to express feelings. Heartbreaking, hilarious, smart, and surprising, Third Class Superhero marks the arrival of an impressive new talent.
"Issues of identity and insecurity simmer throughout Yu's debut collection, an imaginative excursion into the burrow Kafka built. In 'My Last Days as Me,' the unnamed star of the hit TV show Me and My Mother chafes at the recasting of his onscreen mother and eradicates the line between actor and character. The unnamed man in 'Man of Quiet Desperation Goes on Short Vacation' evaluates his existential condition as frequently as a time-obsessed man checks his watch. And in the title story, 'Moisture Man' strives to improve his position in the superhero hierarchy, which means constant self-appraisal and comparison to his more successful counterparts ('fireball shooters. A few are ice makers. Half a dozen telepath/empaths'). Yu flirts with formal experimentation — 'Problems for Self-Study' unfolds as a complicated multiple choice test, for example — but tempers his fantastical constructions with level prose. (The first two paragraphs of 'The Man Who Became Himself' are 'He was turning into something unspeakable' and 'At the office, people avoided the issue.') There is abundant humor, though, and Yu allows the reader to feel pathos without patronization; a neat trick, in a compulsively readable collection. (Sept.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Audacious...Smart, engaging and often deadpan funny." Kirkus Reviews
"These stories read like entries in a private journal, with clever metaphors and philosophical introspection related through absurd situations that capture the vagueness in our lives." Library Journal
"Rich with humor, invention, and humanity...Yu emerges as a first-class talent. (Grade: A)" Entertainment Weekly
My power, if you can call it that, and I dont think you can, is that I am able to take about two gallons of water from the moisture in the air and shoot it in a stream or a gentle mist.”—Moisture Man
Moisture Man, the hero of Third Class Superhero,” is tired of watching his former classmates kick ass and claim their secret hideouts while he struggles to maintain his good guy accreditation. Someday soon hell have to decide whose side hes really on, and how far hes willing to push the panels of his story line. Meanwhile, in My Last Days as Me” the actor playing Me on the hit show Family loses his composure when the new woman playing My Mother insists on abandoning the script. In Problems for Self-Study,” A and B fall in love but cant solve for the variable having a baby introduces. And a couple living in the Luxury Car Commercial subdivision in 401(k)” realize too late that their exotic vacation is a Life Insurance/Asset Management pitch.
In these and other stories, Charles Yus characters run up against the conventions and parameters of their genres while tackling the terrifying aspects of existence: mothers, jobs, spouses, the need to express feelings. Heartbreaking, hilarious, smart, and surprising, Third Class Superhero marks the arrival of an impressive new talent.
"Wonderfully wry work. A terrific debut. Its a delight to read someone who realizes that life in the world is not as simple as it is often made to seem."—Frederick Barthelme, author of Bob the Gambler
Charles Yus work has been published in the Harvard Review, Alaska Quarterly Review, the Mississippi Review, Mid-American Review, and elsewhere. He is the recipient of the Sherwood Anderson Fiction Award. This is his first book. He lives in Los Angeles.
About the Author
Charles Yu's work has been published in the Harvard Review, Alaska Quarterly Review, the Mississippi Review , Mid-American Review, and elsewhere. He is the recipient of the Sherwood Anderson Fiction Award. This is his first book. He lives in Los Angeles.
Table of Contents
Story 1 ( Third Class Superhero
Story 2 ( 401(k)
Story 3 ( The Man Who Became Himself
Story 4 ( Problems for Self-Study
Story 5 ( My Last Days As Me
Story 6 ( Two-Player Infinitely Iterated
Game with Spite and Reputation
Story 7 ( Realism
Story 8 ( Florence
Story 9 ( Man of Quiet Desperation Goes on Short Vacation
Story 10 ( 32.05864991%
Story 11 ( Autobiographical Raw Material Unsuitable for the Mining of Fiction
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