Synopses & Reviews
With this first book of fiction, a gifted young writer brings together eight superbly crafted stories that peer deeply into the human heart, exploring lives derailed by the loss of a vital connection to the land and to the natural world of which they are a part.
"Mule Killers" evokes the end of an era and of a grandfather's dreams when he decides to replace animal power on his farm with tractors. Two restless young girls in "Sweethearts of the Rodeo" live out their last summer of innocence, riding ponies recklessly and spying on their boss and the wealthy women who visit him. In "Phantom Pain", the Tennessee woods are a sliver of what they once were, men now hunt with GPS and cell phones, and the rumor of a dangerous panther on the loose stirs up a small town.
An unexpected vision of the beauty and mystery of life redeems the darkest moments in this stellar debut collection, a book that readers will want to read and reread.
"In this debut collection of eight esoteric stories three of them prize winners Peelle's characters negotiate tumultuous relationships and buried memories. This nimbly crafted group of lonely souls range from a one-legged taxidermist, who happens to be the only person in town who does not believe a hungry panther is on the loose, to a winter-bound woman, tormented by her ex-husband but saved by the most unlikely of creatures. In 'This Is Not a Love Story,' a mother comes across a box of old photographs, which remind her of a summer she spent trying to turn a hobby into a career and a lush into a husband. In 'Sweethearts of the Rodeo,' the narrator reminisces about working at a stable with her best friend, tormenting their handsome boss and the rich women who board their horses there. Yet another, 'The Still Point,' follows a man traveling with a carnival, trying to outrun the loss of his twin brother and family home. Peelle writes her meaty characters with vigor and packs each tale with descriptions so subtly vibrant that they warrant multiple visits." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Peelle vividly evokes a setting and brings its inhabitants...instantly and convincingly to life." Boston Globe
"Peelle's acute perception of a squandered world inspires complex, suspenseful stories that celebrate life's endless improvisation and assertion." Kansas City Star
"The eight stories in Lydia Peelle's debut collection are remarkable for their clarity and precision....artful..." BookForum
"Lydia Peelle has given us a collection of stories so artfully constructed and deeply imagined they read like classics. It marks the beginning of what will surely be a long and beautiful career." — Ann Patchett
In Reasons for and Advantages of Breathing, Lydia Peelle brings together eight brilliant stories — two of which won Pushcart Prizes and one of which won an O. Henry Prize — that peer straight into the human heart. In startling and original prose, she examines lives derailed by the loss of a vital connection to the natural world.
Reasons for and Advantages of Breathing conveys an almost Faulknerian ache for the pre-modern South, for a landscape and a way of life lost to the ravages of money and technology.
About the Author
Lydia Peelle was born in Boston. Her short stories have appeared in numerous publications and have won two Pushcart Prizes, an O. Henry Award, and been twice featured in Best New American Voices. She lives in Nashville, Tennessee.