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Certain American States: Stories

Certain American States: Stories

A Signed First Edition Club Recommendation

"Catherine Lacey is one of our greatest living sentence-level writers, and I look forward to her short stories the same way I look forward to a collection by Ben Marcus or George Saunders. Her syntax is the magnificent stuff of uncertainty and grief, her characters brilliantly slipshod. Certain American States is full of characters adrift, so sick of platitudes, here to sum our modern exhaustion. Fans of Lacey’s novels Nobody is Ever Missing and The Answers will find the same preoccupations with grief and loss, what makes us love another person and why that love fades. Lacey writes about writers and their violations; our inability to communicate and the impossible texture of the English language; what happens when we are at the end of our sorrow and decide to give everything away; what happens when a person gets tired of being a person. Lacey is generous in her prose. She’s fun and feels deeply. These are stories to carry with you on long journeys, and to pick up again when you find it difficult to roll out of bed."

Spencer R.

See all my recommendations »

"Catherine Lacey's prose is truly breath-taking. Her stories are sharp. Their insights into relationships, loneliness, and modernity will probably haunt you—for better or for worse."

Kate B.

See all my recommendations »

Author Catherine Lacey
Publisher Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Publication Date 2018-08-07
Section New Hardcover - Fiction / All Staff Suggestions / Fiction Suggestions / Kate B. / Spencer R.
Type New
Format Hardcover
ISBN 9780374265892

One of Granta’s Best Young American novelists, Catherine Lacey, the Whiting Award-winning author of The Answers, showcases her literary style in short fiction with Certain American States, a collection of stories about ordinary people seeking―and failing to find―the extraordinary in their lives.

Catherine Lacey brings her narrative mastery to Certain American States, her first collection of short stories. As with her acclaimed novels Nobody Is Ever Missing and The Answers, she gives life to a group of subtly complex, instantly memorable characters whose searches for love, struggles with grief, and tentative journeys into the minutiae of the human condition are simultaneously gripping and devastating.

The characters in Certain American States are continually coming to terms with their place in the world, and how to adapt to that place, before change inevitably returns. A woman leaves her dead husband’s clothing on the street, only for it to reappear on the body of a stranger; a man reads his ex-wife’s short story and neurotically contemplates whether it is about him; a young woman whose Texan mother insists on moving to New York City with her has her daily attempts to get over a family tragedy interrupted by a mute stranger showing her incoherent messages on his phone. These are stories of breakups, abandonment, and strained family ties; dead brothers and distant surrogate fathers; loneliness, happenstance, starting over, and learning to let go. Lacey’s elegiac and inspired prose is at its full power in this collection, further establishing her as one of the singular literary voices of her generation.

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