Synopses & Reviews
Jill McCorkle's new collection of twelve short stories is peopled with characters brilliantly like us-flawed, clueless, endearing. These stories are also animaled with all manner of mammal, bird, fish, reptile-also flawed and endearing. She asks, what don't humans share with the so-called lesser species? Looking for the answer, she takes us back to her fictional home town of Fulton, North Carolina, to meet a broad range of characters facing up to the double-edged sword life offers hominids. The insight with which McCorkle tells their stories crackles with wit, but also with a deeper-and more forgiving-wisdom than ever before. In Billy Goats, Fulton's herd of seventh graders cruises the summer nights, peeking into parked cars, maddening the town madman. In Monkeys, a widow holds her husband's beloved spider monkey close along with his deepest secrets. In Dogs, a single mother who works for a veterinarian compares him-unfavorably-with his patients. In Snakes, a seasoned wife sees what might have been a snake in the grass and decides to step over it. And, in the exquisite final story, Fish, a grieving daughter remembers her father's empathy for the ugliest of all fishes. The success behind Jill McCorkle's short stories-and her novels-is, as one reviewer noted, her skill as an archaeologist of the absurd, an expert at excavating and examining the comedy of daily life (Richmond Times-Dispatch). Yes, and also the tragedy.
These 12 stories are peopled by people who are remarkably similar to the animals in their lives.
Creatures of Habit is so rich, so complete an experience. I marvel at the toughness and the brilliant sensibility.
I don't know how Jill McCorkle does it, but she has the power to alter y emotional state with a single sentence, a line, a seemingly off-hand comment.She can make me shiver with sorrow, and then turn around and get me smiling; she can bring me up with startlement; she can make me anxious; she can horrify me, or scare me. With every line, she indicates my awe.The fact is, McCorkle's great gift is her ability to make me forget that I'm reading at all.
What she does, I think, is slam me into Life in a way that invigorates me and then makes me intensely aware of being alive myself, of being in my own time, in the world. For me, that is what beautiful writing always does, and this is beautiful writing. (Richard Bausch, author of Good Evening Mr. and Mrs. America, and All the Ships at Sea
Praise for Jill McCorkle's stories
Haunting, beautifully crafted.Line by line, paragraph by paragraph, Jill McCorkle's stories are relentlessly funny.but they use humor to earn a much wider range of emotion. (Los Angeles Times Book Review)
An accomplished comic writer who's continually refining here skills and expanding her range, McCorkle is gradually becoming our contemporary Eudora Welty. (Kirkus Reviews)
About the Author
Five of Jill McCorkle's seven previous books have been named New York TimesNotables. Winner of the New England Booksellers Award, the Dos Passos Prize for Excellence in Literature, and the North Carolina Award for Literature, she has taught writing at the University of North Carolina, Bennington College, Tufts University, and Harvard. She lives near Boston with her husband, their two children, several dogs, and a collection of toads.
Table of Contents
Billy Goats (1)