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Other Electricities: Stories Paperback – May 1, 2005


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Sarabande Books (May 1, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1932511156
  • ISBN-13: 978-1932511154
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.5 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #365,159 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Monson's inventive collection illuminates the barren landscape of Michigan's snowbound Upper Peninsula with a glittering mosaic of short stories, lists, instructions, poetic obituaries and illustrations of radio schematics. His interconnected vignettes flash across a region that is "now in some ways a place only for ghosts and tourists," revealing a smalltown cast of characters defined by shared loss. The ice—frosting the roads, crusting Lake Superior—exerts an inexorable pull on these people, spinning their minivans, swallowing their snowmobiles, claiming young and old and drunk and sober. While they mourn the disappeared and deceased, their self-destructive impulses battle deeply rooted survival instincts that flourish despite impoverished and circumscribed lives. Artful metaphors resonate throughout: snow is sustenance and death. Radio waves displace language and imply an unbridgeable gap between people. Liz, a drowned high school student, embodies needlessly lost youth. Monson alternates more narrative pieces with second-person instructive messages, such as "Instructions for Divers: On Retrieval," about extracting wrecks from the lake, that evoke with immediacy a harsh existence. In "The Big 32," a catalogue of descending temperatures and their corresponding events, Monson writes that at –11 degrees, "tears freeze complete, nosehairs froze twenty degrees ago; so crying will get you nowhere." Monson's is an original new voice, and this poignant, lyrical collection conjures a powerful sense of place. (May)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

In an exceptionally poetic fiction debut, Monson charts the losses and grief of a small Upper Michigan Peninsula community, an icily beautiful and pitiless place where boredom is as fatal as the blizzards. The death of high-school senior Elizabeth, who drowns when she drives out onto the ice on prom night, causes much soul-searching on the part of her fellow students, the vice principal, and a chemistry teacher who collects vintage cleaning products. Monson gauges their sorrow and quests for order and solace in an assemblage of haunting short stories, wry litanies, imaginary obits, and prose poems. This cathartic scrapbook ultimately records a constellation of deaths, including a murder, all linked by the tender musings of Monson's melancholy and thoughtful central narrator, a young man whose mother has died, whose brother is disabled, and whose father has withdrawn into the attic with his ham radio, summoning voices from the ether. By finding poetry in electricity, radio waves, and weather, Monson illuminates the power that drives people to acts both deadly and life affirming. Donna Seaman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

More About the Author

Ander Monson is the author of a host of paraphernalia including a decoder wheel, several chapbooks and limited edition letterpress collaborations, a website (otherelectricities.com), and five books, most recently The Available World (poetry, Sarabande, 2010) and Vanishing Point: Not a Memoir (nonfiction, Graywolf, 2010). He lives and teaches in Tucson, Arizona, where he edits the magazine DIAGRAM (thediagram.com) and the New Michigan Press.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Dale W. Boyer on April 11, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A handful of times in your life you pick up a book that you know almost immediately is destined to be in that small cluster of books you consider personal touchstones. This is one. It's so fearless, so exhilaratingly creative, so completely inhabited, and captures the feel of life so well it's almost a living, breathing thing in and of itself. If aliens landed on earth and asked me for a book that portrayed midwestern life in a small town, my first impulse would probably be to give them Sherwood Anderson's Winesburg, Ohio. However, if they wanted to know what that life felt like in all its quietest, loneliest and most intense moments, I'd give them this one. Monson is a genius. This book is a flat-out masterpiece.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By gonzobrarian on July 10, 2009
Format: Paperback
For those wishing to visit the Keweenaw Peninsula, I would suggest reading Ander Monson's short but dense Other Electricities. It is a complex yet fascinating collection of stories or vignettes composing the gestalt of Michigan's UP. Sometimes direct, sometimes poetic, though always ethereal, Other Electricities deals with the hardness of living in a place as cold, bleak, and beautiful as upper Michigan. Monson expertly expresses the weirdness and hardship through a formidable cast of characters which, while representing the whole of a small community, actually resembles that of a family.

It is a place where the only guarantee is that every winter at least one snowmobile rider will succumb to the ice, where a father, perched in his attic will become obsessed with speaking code into his radio throughout the night. A place where an abandoned schoolbus forms a hideout for a disaffected teenager, taking his confusion out on stray cats. Where a weary snowplow worker reminisces over uncles dying in saunas and cousins holding up banks in the heart of winter, looking forward to nothing more than her stretch of the road. Where a schoolteacher is helpless to watch both the demolition of her school and her students.

Other Electricities is about a community of people and what they do to survive in an unacommodating environment. It's about the often unfortunate interconnectedness of their lives told from a stream-of-consciousness point of view. Beautifully written and imagined, it's an incredibly deep work, ominous like the lake surrounding the region it so coldly affects.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Dewitt P. Henry on October 4, 2008
Format: Paperback
Monson's stunning stories move `from a world of hard but sparse facts to a storyscape of soft, fulfilling fictions.' He writes with distinctive whimsy and obsession, earning moments of inevitable, surprising beauty. At the center of everything is the `radio amateur,' a meditative youth in Michigan's upper peninsula, whose father is withdrawn into a world of ham radio, whose mother has vanished, and whose older brother is armless and aphasiac. Around him gather stories of friends and town-folk that center on absence, loneliness, energy, causation, and magic. `Everything in Michigan is due to saws or mines or bombs or Vietnam.... There's something unnatural, unbalanced, like an equation. Something to be righted. Solved.' Monson's prose is always charged and arresting as he plays with post-modern structures as deftly as Stuart Dybek, William Gass, and the hypertext innovator, Michael Joyce.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By S. Witt on October 10, 2007
Format: Paperback
Much like a bedroom window, luminous if a book ever was; relentless, romantic, and dreamy. Like a secret scribbled on torn notebook paper. Reminiscent of Dave Eggers, if you enjoyed "staggering genius" then you should check this out.
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful By dumbergirl on May 11, 2008
Format: Paperback
NOT LIKE EGGERS, please. but wondrous & complex. like snow in your living room, like snow in your heart. AM, u r very awesome.
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