Synopses & Reviews
This new collection from Pushcart Prize-winning author Stacey Richter brings cavemen, bat boys, clones, and other odd bits of reality together with wit, razor-sharp observations, and searing compassion.
Cavemen roam the suburbs, morality is questionable, teens are angsting, and alcoholics abound. This is the world as Stacey Richter sees it. In spite of or perhaps because of this alarming cast of characters, Richter's stories are infused with wit, humor, and keen observations of what makes humans tick. There is no sentimental hand-wringing about alcoholic or absentee parents, lost loves, or the most terrible suburban neighborhood Christmas displays. Richter's characters live, exist, play, and often drink too much because that is simply what they do. Carrying on is the only option.
Richter writes with volatile energy, hurtling through her stories while coasting seamlessly between the regular and mundane. She sees the repercussions of bad parenting, forgotten kids, and while she may scoff, her caustic observations never demean her characters. By turns heartbreaking, mirthful, sardonic, and wise, her stories occasionally take a turn into the bizarre. Still, Richter's flights of fancy are not about whimsy or science fiction. They are one imaginative woman's clever and naked view of the absurdities teeming around her.
Twelve bracingly imaginative tales from Richter (My Date with Satan) look at pairs of women (mostly) at various crisis points, small and large. The title tale follows an actualset of twins, two deeply conflicted 30-something women, who see each other for the first time in four years at a Cal State twin study. "The Long Hall" sets two rebellious daughters of a divorced alcoholic mother in Mormon Utah, where they must choose between their outrageous punk band and their growing desire to be with boys. In "Blackout," a student narrator on a spring break in Baja confesses to betraying a sorority acquaintance. "Duet" follows two gifted Juilliard musicians: one chooses marriage and mediocrity, and the other finds mastery as an artist. "The Cavemen in the Hedges" shows the sadly hilarious unraveling of an unmarried suburban couple when they come into contact, thrillingly, with a savage band of transient cavemen. Richter has a great feel for dialogue and conflict, extreme and otherwise." (Mar.) Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Richter possesses a commanding grasp of narrative and human interaction, and a sharp ear for dialogue, allowing these tales to elevate beyond simply 'unusual.' The collection is witty, poignant, and admirably perceptive." Booklist
In the sense that all stories have been written before, a truly startling piece of fiction may be the greatest literary feat possible. Enter Stacey Richter, a virtuoso contender for that very prize, whose offbeat characters manage to toe the line between eccentricity and banal daily life. Each story is organized around a pair of characters, and these characters are permitted to reach their full bizarre potential against mundane backdrops. The result is fiction that drives toward a place of surreal revelation, in these sometimes disturbing, often funny, short pieces. In Twin Study, Richter beautifully captures albeit through unlikely exemplars the essential experience of humanity.
About the Author
Stacey Richter received her M.F.A. from Brown University. The author of the story collection My Date with Satan, she is a three-time Pushcart Prize winner, and has been named a Village Voice Writer on the Verge. She lives in Tucson, Arizona.