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Stay Awake: Storiesby Dan Chaon
Synopses & Reviews
Before the critically acclaimed novels Await Your Reply and You Remind Me of Me, Dan Chaon made a name for himself as a renowned writer of dazzling short stories. Now, in Stay Awake, Chaon returns to that form for the first time since his masterly Among the Missing, a finalist for the National Book Award.
In these haunting, suspenseful stories, lost, fragile, searching characters wander between ordinary life and a psychological shadowland. They have experienced intense love or loss, grief or loneliness, displacement or disconnection — and find themselves in unexpected, dire, and sometimes unfathomable situations.
A father’s life is upended by his son’s night terrors — and disturbing memories of the first wife and child he abandoned; a foster child receives a call from the past and begins to remember his birth mother, whose actions were unthinkable; a divorced woman experiences her own dark version of “empty-nest syndrome”; a young widower is unnerved by the sudden, inexplicable appearances of messages and notes — on dollar bills, inside a magazine, stapled to the side of a tree; and a college dropout begins to suspect that there’s something off, something sinister, in his late parents’ house.
Dan Chaon’s stories feature scattered families, unfulfilled dreamers, anxious souls. They exist in a twilight realm — in a place by the window late at night when the streets are empty and the world appears to be quiet. But you are up, unable to sleep. So you stay awake.
"With this arresting collection, Chaon again demonstrates his mastery of the short story. In the hypnotic 'The Bees,' a young boy screams in his sleep for no reason; he's suffered no known distress. He doesn't even seem to be having nightmares. The boy's father, greatly disturbed, soon finds his own dark past threatening to overwhelm his present. In the title story, Zach and Amber's baby girl is born with an incompletely formed conjoined twin. When Zach narrowly survives death before a highly risky operation to separate the twins, this already fragile family is strained to the breaking point. An electrician named Critter, living with his young daughter in Toledo, Ohio, after the death of his wife, keeps found notes despite their troubling nature, in 'To Psychic Underworld:.' Chaon's protagonists are plagued by common traumas and struggle to rectify their decisions with the external forces of fate. More often than not, characters are stuck in an eddy that seems inescapable, yet which is also a moment's isolation from the surrounding flow. Chaon (Await Your Reply) brings readers fantastically close, slowly drawing them into the anxiety or loneliness or remorse of his characters, and building great anticipation for the twists to come. Agent: Noah Lukeman, Lukeman Literary Management." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"The powerful writing in this intense and suspenseful collection draws us into the emotional maelstroms experienced by the characters. A highly recommended work, not to be missed." Library Journal (Starred Review)
"Chaon's 12 tales deftly explore the reality and mystery of his characters' unmoored lives." Booklist
About the Author
Dan Chaon is the acclaimed author of Among the Missing, which was a finalist for the National Book Award; You Remind Me of Me, which was named one of the best books of the year by The Washington Post, San Francisco Chronicle, and Entertainment Weekly, among other publications; and Await Your Reply, which was a New York Times Notable Book and appeared on more than a dozen “Best of the Year” lists. Chaon’s fiction has appeared in many journals and anthologies, including The Best American Short Stories, Pushcart Prize, and The O. Henry Prize Stories. He has been a finalist for the National Magazine Award in Fiction, and he was the recipient of the 2006 Academy Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Chaon lives in Cleveland, Ohio, and teaches at Oberlin College, where he is the Pauline M. Delaney Professor of Creative Writing.
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