Synopses & Reviews
Like a Polaroid snapshot, this finely wrought collection of short stories gives us a brief glimpse into the quirky and complex lives of rural town inhabitants. As the characters struggle to define their individuality and reconcile their ideals with ordinary life, we are witness to their unique self-discoveries. At times mournful and haunting, this story collection celebrates the nobility of simple life, of striving and failing without ever losing hope.
"Pacific Northwest author Treichel debuts with a collection of short stories focused on the muted struggles of Midwestern blue collar characters to make sense of their messy, often reduced circumstances. The title story follows Tanner, a carpenter by trade, whose affair on the job with a younger woman has precipitated divorce from his wife Kirsten, a waitress. The downbeat Tanner seeks solace in erecting, with his pal Gerald, a replica howitzer. A more offbeat yarn like 'Stargazer,' set in 1957, concerns Walters, a shiftless bar owner, who buys his long-suffering wife, Tooty, an Electrolux vacuum cleaner for her birthday 'and she loved it.' Later, he trains an adopted black bear to wrestle with him in a professional stage act. Brian, a married elementary teacher in 'On By,' is drawn to a dogsledder named Rita. 'I don't think I'll ever forget this,' he says after riding on her sled, but before jumping into bed with her. The final story, 'The Golden Torch,' is about a widowed father and his divorced son who practice their firefighting skills while coping with their feelings of loneliness. All of these stories, with unadorned prose and universally male themes and a creeping sense of violence just ahead, offer broad appeal. A clear-eyed and perceptive debut." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"I’ve been a fan of Treichel’s fiction for years; but this book exceeded all my expectations. Close Is Fine is a beautiful, big-hearted, and hilarious collection. It features firemen, handymen, bear-wrestlers, and noble barflies, all doing the best they can. Treichel’s stories wander the fields, forests, and small towns of the Midwest like an Elizabethan balladeer: steadily amassing the vital, oft-ignored literature of the ninety-nine percent." Tyler McMahon
"The stories in Close Is Fine are a rare treat: vivid and voice-driven, sometimes hilarious and often heartbreaking, with surprising perceptions on every page. Whether they live on dilapidated farms whose wells have been poisoned by pesticides, or play on sports teams named for the local paper mill, or have affairs with soldiers’ wives and help friends build replica Howitzers out of scrap wood, Eliot Treichel’s characters are all complexly flawed and deeply human. In the bleakness of small-town, rural life, Treichel discovers both horror and humor, degradation and dignity, grief and grace." Scott Nadelson
"The gleeful destruction of this collection’s first pages is an early warning that you’re entering a world like no other. Not just a world where a car battery might be thrown through a storm window for fun, but one where “I think I have issues with your thought process” is usually meant as a kind of compliment. The stories of Close Is Fine could not be so funny if they weren’t also so sad, and their energy is always tempered by a narration of sharp reflection and clear, sure-footed prose. This is what I admire most about the book — the tension between the intelligence and control of the storytelling and the mistakes, the lack of control in the actions of the characters he tells us about. These are consistently provocative stories, stories of a very high order." Peter Rock
"This splendid collection of stories is part thrill-ride, part ethnographic field study, and part love song, filled with Wisconsin firemen, lumberjacks, pining lovers, wrestling bears, Native American revolutionaries, eloquent philanderers, [and] downtrodden soccer teams. Eliot Treichel is a master ventriloquist, able to summon and sustain an amazing range of voices, and to let his characters tell their glorious and surprisingly wise stories with their own idiosyncratic eloquence." K.L. Cook
About the Author
Eliot Treichel is a native of Wisconsin, who now lives in Eugene, Oregon. He has an MFA from Bennington College and now teaches writing at Lane Community College. Eliot also works as a freelance writer, and is passionately committed to having a personal influence on his local literary community. His work has appeared in Beloit Fiction Journal, CutBank, Passages North, and Southern Indiana Review. Close is Fine is his first novel.