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I'll be giving my brother a book of short stories, Jim Gavin's Middle Men (unless my brother reads this blog post; then he's getting what I usually get him: a $7 gift certificate at the Booze Barn).
These funny, naturalistic stories are about the kinds of people we grew up with (or maybe the kind of people we grew up to be) — characters a less nuanced writer might depict as life's losers. But Gavin writes with such ease and generosity that a genuine poignancy bubbles up.
There is a terrific basketball story in this collection called "Play the Man" with a coach who seems dreamed up by a low-rent Wodehouse, and a perfect one-word description of the high-desert town of Victorville, California — Tatooine.
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Jess Walter is the author of eight books, including Beautiful Ruins and We Live in Water. He's been a finalist for the National Book Award and PEN/USA Literary prize and won the Edgar Allan Poe Award for best novel.
Books mentioned in this post
Jess Walter is the author of Beautiful Ruins (P.S.)