The Business of Naming Things


Product Details

$15.95  $14.67
Bellevue Literary Press
Publish Date
5.5 X 8.2 X 0.6 inches | 0.5 pounds

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About the Author

Michael Coffey received a B.A. in English from the University of Notre Dame and an M.A. from Leeds University in Anglo-Irish Literature. After university, he moved to New York and began a career in publishing. He has authored three books of poems; a book about baseball's perfect games; and co-edited a book about Irish immigration to America, which was a companion volume to the PBS documentary series The Irish in America. The former co-editorial director of Publishers Weekly, he divides his time between Manhattan and Bolton Landing, New York. The Business of Naming Things is his first work of fiction.


WAMU's Kojo Nnamdi Show "Winter Reading" selection
North County Public Radio (NCPR) "Winter Reading and Holiday Giving" selection
Spartanburg Herald-Journal "Adult Book Pick"
Library Journal "Key Indie Fiction"
Publishers Weekly "Big Indie Book" & "Best Book of the Week"

"Riveting. . . . Coffey brilliantly examines the efforts of a mother to cope with her son's death in 'Moon Over Quabbin'; he uses the J.F.K. assassination as a backdrop to a tale about a sinful priest in 'Inn of the Nations'; and, in 'Sons, ' he explores a difficult father-son relationship in the context of a possible Obama assassination attempt. . . . Vibrant and unsparing." --Publishers Weekly (starred and boxed review)

"Superb. . . . Startlingly original and at times darkly funny. . . . [Coffey's] characters are as flawed and complicated as they are recognizable and sympathetic; all fiction readers can enjoy." --Library Journal (starred review)

"Well-crafted stories, thick with literary references. . . . Carefully chiseled. . . Sober and smart writing that evokes the more mannered American stylists of the 1960s and '70s." --Kirkus Reviews

"Michael Coffey is a writer who revels in language and in storytelling. In this group of beguiling short stories, the writing is rich, subtle, and often surprising." --Bellevue Literary Review

"Coffey name-drops some serious literary heavyweights in the pages of his stories. Harold Brodkey, J.F. Powers, Henrik Ibsen and James Joyce all make an appearance. But that doesn't mean that these stories are only for 'pointy-headed' literary types. Coffey's writing hearkens back to stylists of 40 or 50 years ago and his subject matter is 'meat and potatoes' basic: the relationships between men and women and fathers and sons." --WAYNE ROYLANCE, New York Public Library

"Once I started reading these stories, I couldn't stop. They absorbed me thoroughly, with their taut narratives and evocative language--the language of a poet. The matter of identity looms over them, giving them a kind of brooding and breeding presence, one that animates the past, makes it not only real, but more than real. Michael Coffey has reached deep into his own past here, but that reality has been magically transformed, transmogrified, as the work of fiction does its job. Coffey is a fine, witty, and vibrant writer. I recommend The Business of Naming Things with gratitude to the author." --JAY PARINI, author of Jesus: The Human Face of God and The Last Station

"Sherwood Anderson would recognize this world of lonely, longing characters, whose surface lives Coffey tenderly plumbs. These beautiful stories--spare, rich, wise and compelling--go to the heart." --FREDERIC TUTEN, author of Self Portraits: Fictions and Tintin in the New World

"Michael Coffey brings us so close to his subjects it is almost embarrassing. Whether he's writing about a sinning priest or a man who's made a career out of branding or about himself, we can smell Coffey's protagonists and feel their breath on our cheek. Like Chekhov, he must be a notebook writer; how else to explain the strange quirks and the perfect but unaccountable details that animate these intimate portraits?" --EDMUND WHITE, author of Inside a Pearl and A Boy's Own Story