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Further Interpretations of Real-Life Events: Stories Paperback – March 20, 2012

3.7 out of 5 stars 43 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


“The first thing you notice reading the stories in Further Interpretations of Real-Life Events is the author’s extraordinary range--of expertise, technique, imagination and wit. There doesn’t seem to be much Kevin Moffett can’t do.” (Richard Russo)

“Kevin Moffett’s stories are stealth heartbreakers, as well as wonders of sly detail and perfect tone. He’s writing some of the best short fiction around.” (Sam Lipsyte)

“These stories are as enormously funny as they are enormously sad. Moffett deals in wisdom, humor, and sympathy with extraordinary fluency; the results are always as unsettling as they are reassuring. And this seems to me about as close as you can come to writing the truth about life.” (Chris Adrian)

“Humor is too often heartless, sheer cleverness lacking content. Kevin Moffett is a member of that delightful minority that takes up the ordinary to reveal the extraordinary. These stories are funny, insightful, and reveal, but never strive for, true depth.” (Alice Sebold)

“Moffett’s work is melancholy and funny at the same time. . . . Language soars in unexpected directions. . . . This collection will leave readers grateful to have encountered characters who are as odd as they are, as sad as they may be, and as stupidly hopeful.” (Publishers Weekly (starred review))

“Marvelous stories.” (Vanity Fair)

“One of the most delightful collections in recent memory. . . . It’s rare to see as bright a star as Moffett on the literary scene. With this lovely collection, he is one to watch.” (The Rumpus)

From the Back Cover

Propelled by a multitude of idiosyncratic voices, the stories in Kevin Moffett's Further Interpretations of Real-Life Events are tragic in their conception and comic in their execution. Moffett casts light on characters in transitional states, stalled and puzzled. In "In the Pines," a Civil War reenactor visits an elderly woman recently relocated to a retirement home. In "Border to Border," an immigrant working at an amusement park faces a disconcerting choice when he loses one of his dental crowns. In "First Marriage," a honeymooning couple is stalled in Arizona by the stink of dead animal in their rental car. Even as they bumble and disappoint their way through these stories, these characters elicit from us a sympathy—even a self-identification—that is something much stronger than pity. The result is an unsettling and unforgettable collection. Written with penetrating insight into our motivations and fears, Further Interpretations of Real-Life Events is a wise, funny, and haunting book that signals the emergence of a trailblazing talent.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 229 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial (March 20, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0062069225
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062069221
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.5 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (43 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #809,735 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Kevin Moffett's first collection of stories, Permanent Visitors, won the John Simmons Short Fiction Award, judged by George Saunders, and was long-listed for the Frank O'Connor International Short Story Award and the Believer Book Award. His new collection, Further Interpretations of Real-Life Events was released in March 2012 from Harper Perennial.

He is a frequent contributor to McSweeney's and his stories and essays have appeared in Tin House, the Harvard Review, American Short Fiction, the Chicago Tribune, the Believer, A Public Space, and in three editions of The Best American Short Stories (2006, 2009, and 2010). He has received the Nelson Algren Award, the Pushcart Prize, and a literature fellowship from the National Endowment of the Arts.

He won the National Magazine Award in 2010 for "Further Interpretations of Real-Life Events."

He lives in Claremont, California, with his wife and son.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I was a fan of Moffett's first collection of short stories, Permanent Visitors. I thought those stories were brilliant in their insight and depiction of the universal human dilemma of trying to find our way in the journey of life. One always wonders, at the outset of reading what amounts to 'the next installment' from a favorite writer, if one will ultimately be satisfied or disappointed. No disappointment here.

Moffett has, as I see it, two essential gifts. The first is his gift for crafting fluid, graceful, honest prose. The second is the gift of seeing people as they are, of seeing through the veil of what we would pretend to be and understanding precisely who we truly are beyond the mask. That he can render up these timeless stories, each one with a wholly different persona, impresses and amazes me every time.

As I have noted in a previous review of Moffett's work, short stories are a difficult genre to do well. For my money, Kevin Moffett is one of the most skillful and talented short story writers out there right now. If you're a fan of the genre, you won't be disappointed by these new offerings.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
There are nine stories in this 240 page book, and each story has a quite
specific, if hard to describe, tone. While the tones vary from one story to another, they're all in the same mood. The people in these stories are constrained by forces that are hard to perceive, that must be taken as existing, from communicating clearly, from behaving and relating to others as they wish, or from working through terrible grief. Even the amusing ones have a somber, cautious quality. Strange things happen, people behave unaccountably, perhaps unable to control themselves, but life goes on.

The one I'm finding most memorable and humorous is
about a lonely woman who's just moved into assisted living overlooking
a Civil War battlefield, and a civil war re-enactor in uniform
approaches her several times on her patio and stays zanily in
character, and she goes along, accepting the situation as a metaphor
for her life and relationships. It's never acknowledged in the story
until the very end, and then only obliquely, that this is what is going on.

The language rarely calls attention to itself with excessive
cleverness, and it's an extremely easy and fast read. Each story can be read
very carefully in half an hour or less, and the whole book therefore could be
read in one sitting, if one could take that much of that tone. I love the
tiny worlds of short stories and the brief commitment one has to make. I can't
say that these are brilliant or powerful, but they're interesting and worth reading.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I absolutely enjoyed this book and realized early into it that I've been short-changing myself by passing up short stories! Reading Mr. Moffett's collection felt like I was cruising across the country and randomly dropping in on someone's slice of life. This book is simply good stories. The plot, characters, scenery, etc. are all the right amount of information to paint the picture, the people and the emotion. I became invested in every character and story from the onset, and couldn't put the book down until I knew how it all ended.

I really have a whole new appreciation for short stories; this was such an engaging and enjoyable book! And I have a whole new respect for short story authors such as Mr. Moffett. He has a true gift, even if you only consider the sheer number of characters and stories he created for this book, but especially because it all works together to create a book full of satisfaction and amusement.

If you don't have time to sink into a full-on novel, and need some relaxation and diversion, Mr. Moffett's book will not disappoint!
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I thoroughly enjoyed Moffett's first collection, Permanent Visitors (Iowa Short Fiction Award), and was happy to hear word of this second one. Moffett is a master of the quirky, off -beat and often very humorous story. Even in his oddest stories, like "The Big Finish" here, with its talking birds, Moffett still manages to be touchingly poignant and invoke great sympathy in the reader for his characters.

The 9 stories in the collection are:

1. Further Interpretations of Real-Life Events - 34 pp - A story that thoroughly deserved its place in the Best American Short Stories of 2010 collection. A writer has to deal with the enraging fact this his father, in retirement starts to dabble with writing and ends up publishing some very powerful stories in literary journals. The way the story portrays the son's jealousy and annoyance over this is marvelous. But this turn of events, particularly the stories the father is publishing, forces the son to reexamine memories of his mother's death and reconsider his assumption that his mother's passing had little effect on the father.

2. Buzzers - 20 pp - A young man goes to Europe to study architecture just as he learns his ill father has died.

3. In the Pines - 27 pp - A lonely widow lives in a retirement home that looks out a on a Civil War battlefield. Because she can't find any suitable male companionship, she begins to imagine conversations with a solider from the war.

4. First Marriage - 26 pp - A newly married couple transporting a man's car to Florida get delayed while their cars get deodorized by mechanics because a snake had crawled into and died.

Read more ›
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