A too spare debut collection of five elegantly crafted stories by translator Searls (Rilke's The Inner Sky) explores the exquisite indignities suffered by those with rich inner lives. The well-read narrator of the dry 56 Water Street attempts to write a novel about a man who circles back to where he came from, much like the fastidious writer himself whose girlfriend is soon to leave him because he is unable to plan what happens next. The Cubicles is a delightful dig at the vacuous new economy of Northern California, wherein the narrator is ensconced in a nebulous position at the punnily nicknamed Prophet Corp. There, leading a life of Circean pleasures which keeps him from becoming a writer, he chronicles the other sad cube-dwellers. Self-consciously writerly, Searls's work possesses a schoolmarmish charm and hints at the fresh, smart talent he may one day become. (May)
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"A series of highly imaginative and original takes on the contemporary world, both sophisticated and quirky, elegant and unique." --Edith Grossman
"Literature is dead, everyone knows that, and also--another thing everyone knows--all the great literature has already been written. But if we were somehow to begin bringing literature into the present day, we'd do it by updating, reimagining, rewriting, and then finally once and for all forgetting the past masters. That is what, in these funny, eclectic, and ultimately very contemporary stories, Damion Searls somehow manages to do." --Keith Gessen
"These stories not only read beautifully and feel true; I don't think I've ever read anything that seems at once so off-hand and so formally exacting. Damion Searls's work gives me an idea of how the short story can keep on going, what its future might be." --Benjamin Kunkel