From one of Granta's Best of Young American Novelists comes Certain American States, whose insightful and lonely stories beg you to discover the emotional universes hiding at their cores.
The winner of a Whiting Award, 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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About the Author
Catherine Lacey is the author of Nobody Is Ever Missing, winner of a 2016 Whiting Award and a finalist for the New York Public Library's Young Lions Fiction Award, and The Answers. In 2017, she was named one of Granta's Best of Young American Novelists. Her essays and fiction have been published widely and translated into Italian, French, Dutch, Spanish, and German. She was born in Mississippi and is based in Chicago.
Therese Plummer is an actor, award-winning voice-over artist, and counselor. She is a winner of several AudioFile Earphones Awards and has been a finalist for the prestigious Audie Award for best narration. She has appeared in a variety of television and film roles. As a counselor for adolescents, she spent five years using drama therapy techniques in individual and group settings.
[A] collection of stories rife with sentences whose length and detached style...evoke emotions and encourage thinking and reflection.-- "Vanity Fair"
On every page, she slips a tiny gem into your palm, a little miracle of perspective...[with] perfect sentences, penetrating insights, devastating epiphanies.-- "Chicago Tribune"
In these stories of loneliness and despair, grief and searching are threads of something more hopeful...the possibility of finding ourselves.-- "Nylon"
Peopled by widows, ex-wives, New York City transplants, and more, the stories in Certain American States find their characters at the crux of change and dare to probe their psyches as much as their surroundings.-- "Literary Hub"
Filled with affecting emotional complexity just at the point of bursting.-- "Booklist"
Stellar...On display is Lacey's trademark handle on the plight of characters who feel lost in their own lives.-- "Publishers Weekly"
Stories whose protagonists find their sense of finally having found their place in the world suddenly upended, as when a woman who's left her dead husband's clothes on the street sees another man wearing them.-- "Library Journal"
Exquisite: every line is dry and spare and bracing, without a single syllable out of place. A fully realized vision.-- "Kirkus Reviews"
In leaving things out, Lacey asks her audience what they haven't been noticing, where their empathy has failed to travel. To read Please Take or any other in her magnificent new collection, Certain American States, is a whole childhood of feeling, and like any childhood, we feel lucky after to have emerged intact. You don't read a Catherine Lacey story-you survive it.-- "Kathleen Alcott, author of Infinite Home"