Synopses & Reviews
A contemporary master of the short story, Antonya Nelson writes with uncommon grace and unflinching insight about the remarkable realities of everyday existence. The eleven stories in Nothing Right?
a selection of Nelson's greatest recent achievements, along with her latest, previously unpublished work?are largely set in her native Kansas, and resonate with deep familiarity. Nelson elegantly renders all the complexity, ambiguity, and beauty of daily life: the comforting rituals and unexpected disruptions, the maintenance of family ties and the poignant struggles of romance.
Honest, witty, and quietly revelatory, Nothing Right is a collection to be savored, showcasing a writer at the top of her form.
“In this powerful collection of 11 short stories, Nelsons brilliantly constructed characters negotiate love, family, home and truth. Nelson consistently pays exquisite attention to detail, resulting in rich, vivid characters and settings…Nelson writes with wonderful grace and skill, each word carefully chosen, each passage carefully constructed.
This beautiful collection is another remarkable accomplishment for a writer often hailed as one of our most talented storytellers.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“Those wondering whether the spirit of bohemian anarchy endures in todays hunkered-down Red America need look only as far as the marvelously reliable Wichita, Kansas, native Antonya Nelsons latest story collection, Nothing Right…Nelson delivers convincing portraits—11 of them here—of folk who are alarmingly drinking-positive, more than a little familiar with illicit drugs, and all too conversant in the language of infidelity…Sordid, cynical, and supremely romantic tales.”—Elle Magazine
“Stellar… never has anxiety been made as entertaining as it is here. Nelson deploys a quirky, far-reaching humor and resonant detail to describe both the quiet and not-so-quiet implosions of midwestern families as they attempt to cope with contemporary life…. Nelson is in complete command of her material here, infusing her stories with just the right shades of poignancy, humor, and heartbreak.”—Booklist (starred review)
“Nelson is at her best creating densely packed, almost novel-like family mini-sagas."—Kirkus Reviews
“Delightfully messy…Nelson gives readers plenty to ponder as her frequently baffled characters struggle to make sense of the circumstances in which they find themselves…Readers who relish conflict will burn through the pages as the disasters pile up, while those who appreciate well-rounded characters will be impressed with the variety of responses to said disasters, which reveal just how strong, flexible, and adaptable human beings can be under pressure. This weary hymn to coping with life's cruelties is a tour de force.”—Library Journal
“Nelson never chafes against the limitations of her chosen form, the realistic well-made story. Its the ideal medium for a writer who isnt afraid to remind us of the familiar, who values insight over epiphany.”—New York Times
“I dont know how I missed the extensively published and acclaimed writer Antonya Nelson, but Im glad my first encounter was this collection of short stories. They are funny in a dark, subterranean way, gracefully told, and populated by characters you wouldnt want to know but already know intimately… These difficult characters… may seem impossible to like, but because of Nelsons fluid skill and insight, you end up caring about them all.”—Bust
“You have only to read Antonya Nelson's new story collection, Nothing Right, to appreciate her talent…. Nelson, unlike so many writers today, is not serving up magic realism in her stories. Her magic, in fact, is their powerful realism: deeply understood, beautifully expressed.”—Hartford Courant
“Nelson never chafes against the limitations of her chosen form, the realistic well-made story. Its the ideal medium for a writer who isnt afraid to remind us of the familiar, who values insight over epiphany. Nor is Nelson particularly interested in the way the world at large shapes our private lives. These stories could take place at just about any time in the last 30 years - after the sexual revolution diminished, without destroying, the scandal of adultery and the tragedy of divorce. Indeed, it comes as a surprise when, in ‘Shauntrelle, Nelson alludes to ‘collateral damage, and a world that contains Iraq and Afghanistan heaves into view. The wars that concern Nelsons characters are fought much closer to home.”—New York Times Book Review
“Antonya Nelsons Nothing Right [targets] the romantic poseurs in all of us.”—Vogue
Set in the American Southwest, and including one previously unpublished story, "Nothing Right" features poignant, hilarious, truthful explorations of domesticity and characters who try to keep themselves intact as their personal lives explode around them.
“Unforgettable…Nelson, witty yet sympathetic, articulates our pains and troubles better than we do. Could it be that she knows us better than we know ourselves?” San Francisco Chronicle
In these eleven stories, Nelson renders all the complexity, ambiguity, and beauty of daily life: the comforting rituals and unexpected disruptions, the maintenance of family ties and the poignant struggles of romance. Nothing Right is honest, witty, and revelatory, showcasing a brilliant writer at the top of her form.
About the Author
Antonya Nelson is the author of eight books of fiction. Her works include Female Trouble and the novels Talking in Bed, Nobody's Girl, and Living to Tell. Nelson's work has appeared in the New Yorker, Esquire, Harpers, Redbook, and in many other magazines, as well as in anthologies such as Prize Stories, the O. Henry Awards, and Best American Short Stories. Her books have been New York Times Notable Books of 1992, 1996, 1998, and 2000. The New Yorker called her one of the "twenty young fiction writers for the new millennium." She is also the recent recipient of the Rea Award for Short Fiction and is a recipient of an NEA Grant 2000-01 and a Guggenheim Fellowship.