Synopses & Reviews
The stories in this collection occupy a world at once as familiar as a suburban backyard or a southern colleges hallowed football field and as strange as a man who buys Savannah, Georgia, and tries to turn it into the perfect Southern city as part of his attempt to win back his estranged wife. The fictional territory of Carrying the Torch, is in short, Brock Clarkes, one in which the surreal and the hilarious share a neighborhood with the painfully real and the sweetly ironic. Here readers will encounter characters dislocated by work and love, by huge losses and lifes small dramas, men and women who have migrated South in search of redemption—or at least in the hope of leaving the worst behind. In these tales about what people try to leave and find they cant, about the lies we tell the people we love and the myths we create to make life livable, Marly Swick cites an “exceptional originality” as well as an “amazing emotional resonance, a haunting quality.” “Notable for their balance of sentiment and restraint, the music of their language, and the haunting human longing that coexists with the irony and the humor,” as Lee Martin remarks, these remarkable stories carry forward a tradition reaching from Flannery OConnor to John Cheever and Donald Barthelme—and arrive at a brilliance all their own.
"Clarke maps out the New South in the nine assured stories of his second collection, subtly linking America's decaying Northern cities and Southern suburban sprawl with the frayed emotional microcosm of the migratory families who inhabit these territories. In the title story, set in sterile suburban Atlanta during the 1996 Olympics, a wronged wife whose wry, breezy voice overlays painful emptiness crafts a wooden model of her philandering husband's penis while she fantasizes about severing the real thing. The decayed core of a marriage mirrors the urban blight of Savannah, Ga., in the fantastical 'For Those of Us Who Need Such Things,' about a husband who learns a bleak lesson about the myths of authenticity and true love when he buys and attempts to revitalize the Southern city in an effort to win back his estranged wife. 'I'm not the man I once was and feel no need to defend myself,' declares the unreliable narrator of 'The Son's Point of View,' a deficient father who inevitably asserts his version of history while trying to inhabit his son's point of view. Clarke's light touch in these layered stories brings home the plight of his unfaithful husbands, dissatisfied wives and angry children in search of home and meaning. Agent, Elizabeth Sheinkman. (Sept.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Nobody carries the torch passed by John Cheever more ably and wittily than Brock Clarke in these funny, dark, and knowing stories."—David Gates, author of Jernigan and The Wonders of the Invisible World George Singleton
“It takes a uniquely sympathetic vision to render contemporary suburban America without sentimentality or condescension, and Clarke has it. The stories in Carrying the Torch
are full of sympathy—complex, hard-won, and real.”—Matthew Purdy, Iron Horse Literary Review
“Brock Clarkes latest short story collection is his most compelling, balanced, and well-executed offering to date. . . . Carrying the Torch is above all a series of earned moments that always feel genuine. Undoubtedly, this collection cements Clarkes place among the exciting new voices in American fiction.”—Lydia Wilkes, Indiana Review Lydia Wilkes
"There exist but a few undeniable truths in regards to writing short stories, I believe. Any forthcoming textbook needs to include Carrying the Torch in the ‘Make the Miraculous Seem Everyday, the Everyday Miraculous chapter. Brock Clarkes stories are exquisitely smart and funny and honest. I promise that these characters will pull you into their lives faster than a junkyard magnet attracts paper clips. Brock Clarkes a writers writer."—George Singleton, author of Why Dogs Chase Cars Matthew Purdy - Iron Horse Literary Review
The stories in this collection occupy a world at once as familiar as a suburban backyard or a southern college's hallowed football field and as strange as a man who buys Savannah, Georgia, and tries to turn it into the perfect Southern city as part of his attempt to win back his estranged wife. The fictional territory of
About the Author
Brock Clarke is an assistant professor of English at the University of Cincinnati. He is the author of the novel The Ordinary White Boy and of What We Wont Do, a short story collection that won the 2002 Mary McCarthy Prize for Short Fiction and most recently, An Arsonist's Guide to Writers' Homes in New England.