Synopses & Reviews
In these twelve intelligent tales, seasoned poet and story writer Gary Fincke reconciles lost hope and quiet despair with small blessings and ultimate redemption. In his world, as easily as one man becomes a hero, another is riddled with failure. Fincke weaves together the large and small tragedies of daily life to create an inescapable, yet at times oddly comforting, reality. His characters inhabit a world of strip malls and fast-food joints, low-down jobs and physical ailments, lottery tickets and cheap beer. Here, everyone and everything is suspicious, and only the luck of the draw determines who, if anyone, will survive.
In the title story, Ben, a fifty-year-old bookstore clerk facing the possibility of prostate cancer, feels his life spiraling out of control as he endures his female doctor's examinations with childlike embarrassment on the one hand and struggles to conceal his age from his teenybopper coworkers on the other. Ben's only consolation is that "every day he heard about something a hundred times worse." In "Gatsby, Tender, Paradise," Bridgeford encounters a group of lightning strike and electrocution victims and feels lucky to have survived several light-switch shocks--the same type of shocks that have permanently disabled one man in the group. Such are the small but important blessings that ultimately rescue Fincke's characters from despair. Here at last is someone who can articulate both our constant, mortal desire to transcend ordinary experience and our simultaneous comfort in the unremarkable and familiar.
"Gary Fincke writes wonderfully quirky, unpredictable stories full of vivid characters and unforgettable details and moments. There's a lovely, hilariously wry sense of humor at work here, but there's also a truly heartfelt compassion for the lives of ordinary working folks—those little failures and triumphs that make a reader gasp in both recognition and wonder. This is a remarkable collection."—Dan Chaon, author of You Remind Me of Me
“Combining quirky dialogue, vivid details, and small moments of epiphany, Fincke keeps his readers both intrigued and off balance. . . . His background as a poet is obvious in his use of elliptical dialogue and arresting images, and his brainteasers often mask an underlying yet subtly evoked sense of despair."—Booklist
"As steady as a hammer, nailing the emotional shifts of men hovering over the half-century mark . . . Consistent and moving tales."—Kirkus Reviews
"[Fincke] doesn't set out to seduce or dazzle his readers; neither does he interpret action, underscore emotions, or shy away from what's real, messy, and problematic. Through tantalizingly elliptical dialogue, oblique narrative connections ad disjunctions, and odd, often inexplicable actions and reactions, the reader is invited to puzzle out what his characters are up to. . . . Neither the development nor the denouement of Fincke's stories is predictable, and there's no danger of our putting them down for other things."—Georgia Review
"Sorry I Worried You is remarkable because although nothing much happens in these stories (from one to the next, lots of people just stand around talking), each is so immediate and engaging that you’re pushed straight through to the finish. . . . These stories have none of the swirling pyrotechnic style of a David Foster Wallace or a Jim Shepard, two writers we may safely regard as the godfathers (or at least the eccentric uncles) of a generation of contemporary, American short-story writers. Instead, they rely on simple humanity drawn in straight, indelible lines."—New York Times Book Review
"Readers will love Sorry I Worried You for its confident reliance on the simple humanity sculpted in undiluted, indelible contours. . . . Gary Fincke manages to keep readers both absorbed and delightfully off balance."—Bookworm
About the Author
Gary Fincke is a professor of English and the director of the Writer's Institute at Susquehanna University in Pennsylvania. He is the author of many collections of poems and short stories, including The Stone Child: Stories and Writing Letters for the Blind, which won the 2003 Ohio State University Press/The Journal Poetry Prize. Fincke is the recipient of two Pushcart Prizes, the George Garrett Fiction Prize, and the PEN Syndicated Fiction Prize.
Table of Contents
The Lightning Tongues
Sorry I Worried You
The History of Staying Awake
The Serial Plagiarist
Wire’s Wire, until It’s a Body
Rip His Head Off
The Armstrong View
Gatsby, Tender, Paradise