Ecstatic Cahoots: Fifty Short Stories

Stuart Dybek. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $15 trade paper (224p) ISBN 978-0-374-28050-5
A roller coaster of realist and fantastical scenes, slice-of-life character sketches, and page-long fables, Dybek’s collection of flash fiction jostles from story to story like a streamlined zephyr. Much of the book feels like snippets of conversation, or fights overheard through an apartment wall. The daughter with her mother’s bellowing voice who sings only in dreams; the bumbling supervisor lured into paying for a night with his employee; the woman who wants to shave her boyfriend: “ ‘Sounds nice,’ he said, rather than tell her there was no way in hell she was getting near him with a razor.” Dybek switches easily from humor to sadness, from the sensual to the surreal. A young man must leave his girlfriend to find his way home through a blizzard in “Córdoba.” In “Ant,” a lovely day for two lovers is pulled apart by an ant that manages to cart the man away after he remembers a story read to him in childhood by his uncle. In “A Confluence of Doors,” a castaway on the ocean comes upon a veritable island of locked, knocking doors. In “Ice,” a couple brave out onto a frozen pond, the location of a past wedding party where the bride and groom drowned, their ghostly figures still visible under the sheet of ice. Dybek uses all his creative muscle in these brief stories, which are both elusive and precise. (June)
Reviewed on: 04/28/2014
Release date: 06/03/2014
Genre: Fiction
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