Synopses & Reviews
In the tradition of George Saunders and Aimee Bender, an exuberantly imagined debut that chronicles an ordinary world marked by unusual phenomena.
The eighteen stories of Manuel Gonzales’s exhilarating first book render the fantastic commonplace and the ordinary extraordinary, in prose that thrums with energy and shimmers with beauty. In “The Artist’s Voice” we meet one of the world’s foremost composers, a man who speaks through his ears. A hijacked plane circles a city for twenty years in “Pilot, Copilot, Writer.” Sound can kill in “The Sounds of Early Morning.” And, in the title story, a man is at war with the wife he accidentally shrank. For these characters, the phenomenal isn’t necessarily special—but it’s often dangerous.
In slightly fantastical settings, Gonzales illustrates very real guilt over small and large marital missteps, the intense desire for the reinvention of self, and the powerful urges we feel to defend and provide for the people we love. With wit and insight, these stories subvert our expectations and challenge us to look at our surroundings with fresh eyes. Brilliantly conceived, strikingly original, and told with the narrative instinct of a born storyteller, The Miniature Wife is an unforgettable debut.
"It's rare that a debut author is also a seasoned storyteller, but this is the case with Gonzales, whose first book is a deeply imaginative collection of short stories. With commendable skill, Gonzales seamlessly blends the real and the fantastic, resulting in a fun and provocative collection that readers will want to devour. A child born at 10,000 feet on a hijacked plane retraces the same route around Dallas for 'according to our best estimates, around twenty years,' destined to follow this path forever, in 'Pilot, Copilot, Writer'; and a man who works as a miniaturizer mistakenly shrinks his wife into a pint-sized but plucky foe in the title story. Gonzales delights and bends the mind with stories featuring a horror movie cast zombies, in 'Escape from the Mall'; the swamp monsters and robots of 'Life on Capra II'; and a werewolf on a mission to eradicate any trace of his prior humanity, in 'WOLF!' The mixture of the mundane and the surreal is hardly new, but Gonzales carries it off with a fresh voice. A quiet pathos spans the collection, and a well-timed glibness injects these stories with an undercurrent of dark humor. A surprising, delightful, and slyly didactic debut. Agent: PJ Mark, Janklow & Nesbit." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"These stories are wrought with forceful clarity, Borgesian inventiveness and enchanting, devious wit—an unforgettable debut from a uniquely gifted writer."
- Wells Tower, author of Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned
"These are beautiful, strange truths—mad, weird, funny and unforgettable. Manuel Gonzales possesses a brand new American literary voice. This is vital work from an exciting new writer."
—Ben Marcus, author of The Flame Alphabet
“This book has everything you could ask for in a collection, and even things you hadnt thought to ask for, but secretly wanted: unicorns, mobsters, swamp monsters and werewolves. Manuel Gonzales weaves the supernatural into the lives of everyday citizens, from anthropologists to airline passengers, and the result is pure magic mixed with humor and deep humanity.”
-Hannah Tinti, author of The Good Thief
"You know that feeling you get when you pick up a book and realize you are hearing a voice you have never heard before but will be hearing for a long time? I had that feeling on page 5. Please pick up this book - you will have that feeling. Dark, smart and strange in a way that initially had me grasping for comparison but that ultimately revealed itself to be something new."
—Charles Yu, author of How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe
“Manuel Gonzaless The Miniature Wife is a marvel—a beautiful, hilarious and moving reinvention of the gothic, a testimony to the sublime powers of the imagination and language. This a book of extraordinary joy, compassion, horror and grace all rolled into one.”
—Dinaw Mengestu, author of How to Read the Air and The Beautiful Things that Heaven Bears
“Its easy to compare Manuel Gonzales to George Saunders, but it would be just as easy to compare him to Borges or Márquez or Aimee Bender…He makes the extraordinary ordinary, and his playfulness is infectious.”
—Benjamin Percy, Esquire
“Excellent…Gonzales has built a peerless fictional universe by populating his stories with zombies, unicorns, werewolves and space warriors, and then giving them the sensibilities of worried middle managers…hilarious and chilling…a superior collection of writing and a signpost of an emerging talent with a strong and distinctive voice.”
—Michael Lindgren, The Washington Post
"Lucid and confident...because his prose is never sloppy and his rhythm is impeccable, Gonzales's sentences unfold with an unusual smoothness...these stories showcase an exciting new voice... [they] ring and resound."
—Aimee Bender, The New York Times Book Review
“Is there a term for something that's sad, funny, and strange all at once? Sunge? Frad? Because that would describe this imaginative debut…even the most absurd emotional conflicts feel familiar somehow, which only makes them more moving.”
—Melissa Maerz, Entertainment Weekly
“Gonzales voice is so new and different and dazzling that you wont be able to put down his book.”
—Steph Opitz, Marie Claire
“The stories are written so believably, they handle the strange and surreal so carefully, that you want to believe the impossible is possible.”
—Roxane Gay, Tin House
“Remarkable…with an unerring eye for the magnificently weird and funny…hilariously familiar, and also painful and heartbreaking. Gonzales brings great humanity to his oddball scenarios”
—Julia Holmes, Mens Journal
“Wildly imaginative, at times surreal, and always captivating… Gonzales creates these bizarre scenarios that are so utterly believable you forget how impossible they actually are. There is an intelligent economy to his prose throughout the collection and I was thrilled by the originality of his ideas and how they were rendered.”
—Roxanne Gay, The Rumpus
“Impressive…There are true moments of Kafkaesque absurdity and Borgesian fantasy…It pays to suspend disbelief, dive right in and revel in the mayhem.”
—Malcolm Forbes, San Francisco Chronicle
—Susannah Meadows, The New York Times
“A triumph of the form…exhilarating… Gonzales' command of genre and his defiance of convention ripple throughout.”
—Shawn Badgley, Austin Chronicle
“Manuel Gonzales is his own weird, imaginative, witty self. Any story by him is going to take the reader on a ride through a new world that is eerily like our own, yet full of the unexpected.”
—Jenny Shank, Dallas Morning News
“A volume of artfully structured tales… a wild adventure through the human condition.”
—G. Clay Whittaker, The Daily Beast
“[The Miniature Wife] will stick with you. The places and characters will ring daily in your mind.”
—Cate McGehee, The Stranger
“Deeply imaginative… . With commendable skill, Gonzales seamlessly blends the real and the fantastic, resulting in a fun and provocative collection that readers will want to devour.”
—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“Rife with ingenuity and beholden to few rules…Delightfully eerie tales from the dark side.”
“With an astringent wit… intelligence and versatility.”
—Emily Donaldson, Toronto Star
“An exciting new addition to the modern fabulist genre.”
—Emily Temple, Flavorwire.com
“The Miniature Wife will entertain your intellect.”
—Black Balloon Publishing blog
“With clear, matter-of-fact writing and relatable characters who are forced to make heartbreaking decisions… you get crazy scenarios mixed in fine writing and profound thoughts about the human condition and the state of the world. Manuel Gonzales can make you believe anything.”
—The Hispanic Reader blog
“Off-kilter, wacky, disaster-prone: The characters in Wilders inventive stories are all these things, and theyre also unmistakably, disconcertingly familiar.” —O, the Oprah magazine
"Wilders observations are startling and effective, her descriptions clever and distinctive, and her writing stunning, impossible to ignore or take lightly; imagine Andy Warhols soup can meets Vincent van Goghs starry night. VERDICT Edgy, bizarre, exaggerated, this book can be exasperating yet very entertaining. Not for readers seeking sweetness and light along the lines of a Hallmark card-type read." --Library Journal, starred review
"The stories often pivot on the upending of clichés but also focus equally on the difficult equilibrium of relationships between all sorts of people. Excellent meditations on the human condition, well-suited to rest alongside the likes of Denis Johnson and Richard Ford." —Kirkus
"[Wilders] gifts include a knack for sketching her characters thoughts and the ease with which she draws readers into their stories. … Symbolically rich… Wilder draws on both humor and tragedy to deliver her insights.” —Publishers Weekly
"Dark and introspective... the characters here are all broken in some way, and all are very believable. Wilders voice is crisp and contemporary, burying meaning in the depth of her characters thoughts and actions and leaving interpretation up to the reader. Readers familiar with the short stories of Wells Tower will find similar explorations of troubled relationships here." —Booklist
"Wilder is by turns witty, poignant and insightful. She does not shy away from complex issues… She can also deliver a gut-wrenching clincher. Wilder is occasionally reminiscent of Pam Houston, another exceptional American writer… Wilder is a talent to watch.” -The Toronto Star
From a truly distinctive voice brimming with wicked humor, tales of the little disasters that befall and befuddle us
April Wilders characters (some normal, some less so) have this in common: they are spiraling (or inching) toward self-destruction. An almost poetic range of disasters are sought out and savored in This Is Not an Accident, from bad romance to iffy adoption decisions to unsteady liaisons with animals and dolls; from compulsive driving to compulsive written correspondence with oneself.
A house sitter hides among poets in Salt Lake City after his canine charge dies tragically. A grandmas boyfriend holds a backyard barbecue under siegewith the kids as his pint-sized guards. The world of these slightly off-center individuals is similarly off by a few degrees. But by the end, we realize its not as far off as we would like to think: this is modern American life. What Wilder captures is not a dark side, but rather the side we all know well and hide from others, and ourselves. In the tradition of Wells Tower and Jim Shepard, This Is Not an Accident signals a bold new voice and delivers the kind of insanely incisive moments only a master of the human condition can conjure.
From a truly distinctive voice brimming with wicked humor, tales of the little disasters that befall and befuddle us
April Wilders characters (some normal, some less so) have this in common: they are spiraling (or inching) toward selfdestruction. An almost poetic range of disasters are sought out and savored in This Is Not an Accident, from bad romance to iffy adoption decisions to unsteady liaisons with animals and dolls; from compulsive driving to compulsive written correspondence with oneself.
A house sitter hides among poets in Salt Lake City after his canine charge dies tragically. A grandmas boyfriend holds a
backyard barbecue under siegewith the kids as his pint-sized guards. The world of these slightly off-center individuals
is similarly off by a few degrees. But by the end, we realize its not as far off as we would like to think: this is modern American life. What Wilder captures is not a dark side, but rather the side we all know well and hide from others, and ourselves. In the tradition of Wells Tower and Jim Shepard, This Is Not an Accident signals a bold new voice and delivers the kind of insanely incisive moments only a master of the human condition can conjure.
About the Author
April Wilder is a former Fiction Fellow from the Institute for Creative Writing in Madison, Wisconsin. Her short fiction has appeared in several literary journals including Zoetrope, McSweeney���s, and Guernica Magazine. She holds a BS in math/actuarial science from UCLA, an MFA in fiction from the University of Montana, and a PhD in literature/creative writing from the University of Utah (with a doctoral focus on ���narratives of the absurd���). Wilder lives in the Napa Valley with her daughter.