Synopses & Reviews
Each of the seven stories in this extraordinary debut collection dramatizes a deep love staring at the face of death- an encounter that elicits either the best or the worst in these vividly drawn characters. In "We're in Trouble," a woman is asked to end her dying husband's suffering. In "Abandon," a troubled young man must risk jail to do right by the only woman he has ever loved. And "In the Event" shows a young musician's all-night vigil after his best friends' sudden deaths leave him the guardian of their three-year-old son.
Suspenseful and empathic, these dramatically constructed stories show love darkening and persevering as it is tried by the cold reality of death. From a wife waiting for news of her husband's latest death-defying climb, to a sheriff thrown into turmoil after his close friend enacts a horrifying murder-suicide, Coake makes us feel the truth of his characters' lives and transforms it into cathartic art.
"In his striking debut collection, Coake considers how character is revealed under pressure. The title story is a stunner, a series of three vignettes in which a young man recalls a tragic accident, two lovers witness a death and a married couple grapple with the husband's terminal cancer. A misfit couple breaks into an Upper Peninsula cabin, but find themselves trapped in a blizzard in 'Abandon.' In 'Cross Country,' a man estranged from his wife takes their young son on a road trip; several shifts in point of view from father, to son, to an outside observer throw the dynamics of their relationship into question and blur the lines between love and menace. The story concludes with an ambiguous gesture made with protective intent: 'He tightens his grip on the wheel, and concentrates instead on what he knows: the flat horizon stretched out ahead. The soft warmth of the boy's neck. His hand resting on it. The way his fingers curl, to fit its shape.' 'A Single Awe' introduces Dana, a married woman tormented by adulterous thoughts. Her husband is a good but dull man, and the selfless act of heroism that won her love also revealed her own limitations. With unadorned but dramatic, economical prose, Coake explores the human capacity for altruism and cowardice in these high-stakes tales. Agent, Marian Young." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
PRAISE FOR WE'RE IN TROUBLE
"Sometimes, when you're reading the stories, you forget to breathe . . . They're beautifully written, and they have bottom, but they're never dull, and they all contain striking and dramatic narrative ideas . . . They're literary in the sense that they're serious, and will probably be nominated for prizes, but they're unliterary in the sense that they could end up mattering to people." - NICK HORNBY, THE BELIEVER
PRAISE FOR WE'RE IN TROUBLE
Sometimes when you're reading these stories, you forget to breathe . . . Theyre beautifully written, and they have bottom, but theyre never dull and they all contain striking and dramatic narrative ideas.”--Nick Hornby, author of A Long Way Down, in The Believer
Uncanny, clear-eyed . . . [Coake] is wildly engaging as he explores one theme--love in the face of harrowing death (or near-death)--from seemingly every angle. A-.”--Entertainment Weekly
This book begins with "We're in Trouble," a suite of three stories that introduces its common theme: love darkening and persevering as it is tried by the cold fact of death. And in the vivid stories that follow, as Coake's unforgettable characters experience love staring at the face of death, it elicits either the best or the worst in them. From a wife waiting for news of her husband's latest death-defying climb to a sheriff thrown into turmoil after his close friend enacts a horrifying murder-suicide, Coake makes us feel the truth of his imperiled characters' lives and transforms it into cathartic art.
With the complexity, depth, and narrative drive of a novel, this extraordinary debut collection is at once suspenseful, empathic, and almost unbearably moving.
About the Author
CHRISTOPHER COAKE lives in Reno, where he teaches creative writing at the University of Nevada.
Table of Contents
We're in Trouble 1
Cross Country 31
In the Event 107
A Single Awe 143
All Through the House 245