The Big Impossible: Novellas + Stories
"Easily ranks among the best fiction I've read this year." --David Abrams
"If you've come to look for America, it's here in The Big Impossible. Taut, urgent, emotionally powerful stories about the families, workers, and dreamers who are our neighbors, and Delaney's range and sense of history make him the perfect writer to illuminate their lives." --Christopher Castellani, author of Leading Men
The short fiction in Ted Delaney's new collection explores guilt and redemption, aspiration and failure, and the stubbornness of modest hopes. The usual mileposts are fading, and choice is in the context of institutions and assumptions that are no longer holding steady.
In "Clean," a man waits for inevitable justice to come, as much as it will play against him. In "House of Sully," a working-class family navigates the tumultuous year that 1968 was, as new perceptions shake long-held and dependable, if sometimes misguided, beliefs. Other stories examine the inner life of a school shooter, the comical posturing of writers at a literary party, a British veteran of The Great War living at a Florida retirement home but haunted by his losses, and a man's bittersweet visits to past lives via Google Street View. In the sequence set in the West, an itinerant worker moves across the Great Plains, navigating stark landscapes, trying for foothold.
The Atlantic's C. Michael Curtis praised Ted Delaney's debut collection for its "moral intensity . . . in the tradition of writers as varied as Ethan Canin and William Trevor." Two decades later Delaney returns to the short fiction form with utter mastery.
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About the Author
Edward J. Delaney is an award-winning author, journalist, and filmmaker. His books include the novels Follow the Sun, Broken Irish, and Warp & Weft, and the short story collection The Drowning and Other Stories. His short fiction has also been published in The Atlantic and Best American Short Stories, and featured on PRI's Selected Shorts program. Among other honors, he has received the PEN/New England Award, O. Henry Prize, and a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship. He is also the co-author of Born to Play, by Boston Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia. As a journalist, Delaney has written for publications including the Denver Post and Chicago Tribune, received the National Education Reporting Award, and has served as an editor at the Neiman Journalism Lab at Harvard University. As a filmmaker, he has directed and produced documentary films including The Times Were Never So Bad: The Life of Andre Dubus and Library of the Early Mind.
Born and raised in Massachusetts, Delaney has also spent time in Georgia, Florida, and Colorado, and now lives in Rhode Island, where he teaches at Roger Williams University and edits the literary journal Mount Hope.
Praise for The Big Impossible
"Edward J. Delaney's a natural storyteller. And let's be honest, how many books do you come across where you can tell this right away? Stories about the open road, families, failures, comebacks . . . And all so closely observed and mercifully unpretentious. 'Why are the memories of my youth so humid?' Delaney writes in his beautiful evocation of 1968, "House of Sully." See what I mean? Such a welcome collection." --Peter Orner, author of Maggie Brown & Others and Am I Alone Here?
"[D]eeply nuanced, delicately crafted, and empathetic works of near magic." --Chicago Review of Books.
"The Big Impossible showcases all the qualities that make Edward J. Delaney's writing so great: depth of feeling, a sneaky punch of wit, and beautiful sentences that soar to great heights. Delaney had me in his spell throughout, from the chilly interior of a school shooter's mind, to a man reviewing past lives via Google Street View, to a family in 1968 torn apart by, among other things, the sartorial choice of bellbottom pants. The Big Impossible easily ranks among the best fiction I've read this year." --David Abrams, author of Brave Deeds and Fobbit
"Busted men, usually from busted homes, populate this well-turned collection. . . . The novella 'House of Sully' is a crystalline portrait of a dysfunctional family . . . [in] an integrating Boston neighborhood. (A Mephistophelean figure keeps encouraging the white family to sell as more black families move in.) Delaney neatly balances a sense of rootlessness and failure with a respectable nobility. . . . [E]ngrossing and emotionally nuanced[, a] sturdy and careful set of portraits of men struggling not to be swallowed up by their failures or upbringings." --Kirkus Reviews
Praise for Edward J. Delaney and Broken Irish
"[Delaney] cares about details and understands their importance to the larger themes of loss, desperation, and betrayed loyalties. His characters are not merely vehicles for ideas, but rather fully realized, familiar people, whose failures are heartbreakingly authentic." --Boston Globe
"For more than a decade, Edward J. Delaney has depicted the struggles of working-class New Englanders in his engrossing and thoughtfully rendered novels. . . . [He] excels at crafting poignant narratives that honor these struggling communities without whitewashing away their flaws." --Providence Journal
"[Broken Irish] has a complex plot and a driving, fast-paced narrative. . . . Highly recommended." --Star Tribune
"Searing, unforgettable. . . .Though Broken Irish deals with dark subjects it doesn't come off as heavy-handed. Exceedingly clever, the connection between the characters isn't revealed until the very end of the book, making you want to go back to the beginning to sort out the pieces and see how these characters' lives are intertwined." --Missourian
"Glistens with poetic charisma. . . . Delaney does a tremendous job with the different voices. . . . Perspectives jump effortlessly from character to character, brain to heart, motivation to instinct, love to fear." --Brooklyn Rail
"A masterpiece." --Library Journal (starred review)
"Beautifully and heartbreakingly balanced." --Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
"Readers will be captivated. . . . [Delaney] demonstrate great dexterity and storytelling acumen in his lyrical page-turner." --Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"In an artfully constructed story . . . Delaney tackles corporate corruption, the sex-abuse scandal in the Catholic Church, gun violence, and, especially, alcoholism (in searing passages on the ravages of drink that recall Malcolm Lowry's Under the Volcano)." --Booklist (starred review)
"Muscular and taut. . . . A great story that reaches into a reader's life [and] poses important questions about people, fate and community." --Shelf Awareness for Readers
"Epic in its scope but relentlessly compelling in its storytelling--not a common combination--Broken Irish is a splendidly readable and richly textured novel. Edward J. Delaney is an enormously gifted writer." --Robert Olen Butler, author of A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain and Perfume River
"In Delaney's South Boston little is lost, nothing forgotten. Old sins, old wounds haunt his characters, young and old, and reverberate throughout his wonderfully complicated plot. Broken Irish is an enthralling, satisfying novel." --Margot Livesey, author of The Flight of Gemma Hardy and The Hidden Machinery
"An entire community is on the brink. Hope is the only hope. And faith cannot scrub the grime off its hands. With Broken Irish, Delaney delivers a gripping epic." --Adam Braver, author of Mr. Lincoln's Wars and The Disappeared
"If you're anything like me, you Will. Not. Be. Able. To. Stop. Reading." --David Abrams, author of Fobbit and Brave Deeds, at the Quivering Pen