Disasters in the First World: Stories
Olivia Clare (Author)
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DescriptionOlivia Clare's delightfully strange and tender debut collection traces the impact of larger-than-life forces on everyday people. From siblings whose relationship is as fragile as glass, to a woman grappling with both an emotional and physical drought, to a superstitious spouse fearful of misfortune, Disasters in the First World explores the real and the imagined, environmental and man-made calamities, and the human need to comprehend the unknown. In "Pittsburgh in Copenhagen," a man and a woman confront infidelity and estrangement as they share one last night together. "Pétur" tells the tale of a son who takes his mother on an Icelandic vacation only to be stranded there by a volcanic eruption. "Rusalka's Long Legs" follows a young girl's treacherously long walk through the woods with her unpredictable mother. And in "The Visigoths," an older sister finally breaks through to her idiosyncratic brother. With precision and grace, the thirteen stories in this collection capture the fragility of troubled lives caught in disrupted turbulence, moments of connection--no matter how fleeting. Through these intimate, profoundly moving worlds, Clare's voice rises as a distinctive new American storyteller.
Grove Press, Black Cat
June 06, 2017
5.3 X 0.8 X 8.2 inches | 0.52 pounds
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About the Author
Olivia Clare's fiction has appeared in Best American Short Stories, Granta, n+1, Boston Review, Kenyon Review, among other publications, and she is the author of a book of poems, The 26-Hour Day. She holds master's degrees from the Iowa Writers' Workshop and the University of Southern California, and she was recently a Black Mountain Institute Ph.D. Fellow at University of Nevada. She teaches creative writing at Sam Houston State University.
Praise for DISASTERS IN THE FIRST WORLD "These insightful stories . . . flout convention and work in mysterious ways. Two in particular--'Pétur' and 'The Visigoths'--will probably be anthologized and taught and cherished for years to come. They're so well crafted . . . [they] flicker with moments of rare insight and nuance . . . makes me want to pick up whatever Clare publishes next." --Andrew Ervin, New York Times Book Review "Lyrical and elegiac . . . Clare's writing sparkles with unexpected word . . . Her stories unfold in wonderfully astonishing turns . . . Tender yet occasionally biting, Disasters in the First World ekes narrative poetry out of tragedy . . . Clare writes compassionately and unflinchingly about mental suffering." --Amy Brady, Shelf Awareness (starred review) "If Karen Russell wrote realistic fiction . . . everyday people grappling with really big things . . . Disasters big and small about modern life and the difficulties of being a person connecting with other people, doing the right thing." --Rebecca Joines Schinsky, Book Riot "Clare's fiction has a spryness and a wryness one could describe as Barthelme-esque, without so much of DB's arch, sometimes off-putting minimalism. Clare's fiction has closely observed sympathy that could be described as Munro-esque, with a tick-tock contemporaneity that evokes early '80s Beatty. What we're getting at is that there're a lot of ins and outs to this case." --Tex Kerschen, Houston Post "Clare's debut short story collection explores the lives of varied characters--lovers, family, and tenants; the links they forge with others; and the odd, confounding worlds they inhabit . . . In these thoughtful tales, Clare, winner of a Rona Jaffe Foundation Writer's Award and an O. Henry Prize, presents characters who, instead of begging for sympathy, seem to desire clarity." --Leah Strauss, Booklist "Intimate and incisive . . . Clare's characters are believable in their frailty and vulnerability, and the clarity and strength of her voice gives these stories a lingering power." --Publishers Weekly "Olivia Clare is pure literary dynamite. In these stories, humor and dread oscillate at sonic speed, and the worldliness of the sensibility never negates its vulnerability. Clare writes with Carveresque clarity and bite and an elegance all her own. A bravura debut." --Janet Fitch, author of White Oleander and Paint It Black "Olivia Clare's debut collection will surprise you with its poetic weirdness, its dark confidence. The 'disasters' in these stories are tragically indefinite, fissures in the lives of the characters, whom Clare brings to life with humor, wisdom, and brutal honesty." --Vu Tran, author of Dragonfish "The ordinary is transformed in the crucible of Olivia Clare's mind. These stories are artful and strange, both otherworldly and gloriously earthbound. They'll wend their way into your consciousness with stealth." --Lauren Acampora, author of The Wonder Garden "The stories in Disasters in the First World are broad, clear, wild, caring, evocative, deceptively simple, clever without resorting to boring cynicism, deeply-affected and affecting, and rendered expertly with admirably few strokes. Sister to missing sister, vaulted son to mother, the characters who haunt these pages are marked in their depths by their profound and painful stumblings toward connection. They will stay with you for a very, very long time." --Marie-Helene Bertino, author of 2 A.M. at the Cat's Pajamas "Graceful and understated, the stories in Disasters in the First World probe the strangeness in the ordinary. Olivia Clare's language is insightful, shimmering, and entirely her own." --Kirstin Valdez Quade, author of Night at the Fiestas