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Other Resort Cities Paperback – October 1, 2009

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Editorial Reviews


 This collection gleefully introduces uninitiated readers into Goldberg's richly comic voice and his continued preoccupation with our potential for violence and self-deception.  --Los Angeles Times

Menace and mayhem brew beneath the finely crafted surface of these magnetic short stories of American mania and despair. Goldberg draws on his crime-fiction chops (Living Dead Girl, 2002) to portray refugees from failed attempts at middle-class normalcy seeking freedom and revenge in the overdeveloped deserts of the American West. Goldberg's disgruntled characters get up to no good in Palm Springs, Las Vegas, and various gated communities just begging for defilement. A lonely, no-longer-young cocktail waitress struggles to understand her missing Russian adopted daughter. A former sheriff and cancer survivor returns to the strange, toxic, devouring Salton Sea, where he lost his first wife. A man converts his fancy home into a Starbucks after the disappearance of his second wife, and one wonders just how insane he truly is. Goldberg pulls out all the stops in "Mitzvah," a tale about an ersatz rabbi and a temple-centered money- and body-laundering scheme. A divorced father kidnaps his kids; a family is found slain on a mountain. These are eerie, obliquely compassionate, darkly humorous, and ensnaring stories of misery and catharsis. -- Donna Seaman -- Booklist

There's something about a resort vacation that makes you appreciate home. For the characters living in the getaway destinations of Tod Goldberg's latest collection, Other Resort Cities, leaving home is a desperate imperative. A Chicago hit man hides in Las Vegas, where 15 years later he's a respected rabbi of a money-laundering temple. Trouble is, he wants out of all of it--the mafia, faux Judaism and especially Vegas. "Mitzvah" indeed. A cuckolded father abducts his children and ends up squatting in model homes, and another deserted husband converts his gated-community home into a Starbucks. Bad decisions come as naturally to Goldberg's characters as his incisive wit is a natural part of his storytelling. --Time Out Chicago

In his second collection of short fiction, Tod Goldberg delivers ten seductive stories that target the traumatic reality of failed dreams and the struggle to make amends with the past. Each kinetic story pulses and pops with authenticity. Goldberg has not a word misplaced, often times weaving tragedy and beauty with the result of heartbreaking height, similar in style to Mark Richard or Thom Jones. His characters find themselves trapped, whether literally or figuratively - lost in a world where they cannot connect with the projected image of themselves or attain the goal of a satisfied life. In one of the most moving and powerful stories "Walls," Goldberg navigates the fractured childhood of an unspecified number of siblings, using We as the narrator, dissecting their Mother's sexual relationships to ultimate and devastating effects.

Humor plays a big part in Goldberg's prose too, most effectively in "Mitzvah," a Distinguished Story in the new Best American Mystery Stories collection, where Las Vegas mobster Sal Cuperine poses as Rabbi David Cohen, man of the cloth and a man of the gun. Goldberg plays well with juxtaposition, pitting his fractured characters against impossible reality, such as in "Living Room," where a man avoids dealing with the loss of his family by redesigning the living room of his suburban cul-de-sac home to not only look like a Starbucks, but actually be a Starbucks, stocking it with all the authentic amenities - coffee and food, even an a full-time employee; or in "Will" where a prodigal son, in order to receive his inheritance, must set out to meet his dead father's demands of having his ashes spread along the first base line of the Seattle Kingdom, which was demolished years ago.

What are the most impressive, and certainly an indication of a new creative direction for Goldberg, are the stories "Palms Spring" and the title story "Other Resort Cities." In these, we meet Tania, a Las Vegas cocktail waitress, painfully reliving and retelling the story of adopting a Russian child, Natalya, as a means to drastically create a new life for herself. What makes these two stories tent poles of the collection is that they are the first time we see Goldberg explore a single female point-of-view. The storytelling and pacing of these is firmly the work of a mature writer breaking into new and uncharted territory. Goldberg's love for Tania is so palpable that she nearly walks off the page to take our drink order.

Other Resort Cities is home to a tragic population: children and police, drug dealers and teachers, baristas and lawyers, rabbis and gangsters, fuck-ups and failures. Goldberg continues his examination of the human condition, detailing the struggle between a corporeal existence versus an ethereal wane, with each character asking the questions: is this really my reality or have I simply dreamed the whole damn thing? Sadly, though, in "Walls" Goldberg gives us the answer - "there isn't a way for memory to freeze the body like it freezes trauma in place." --NewPages

About the Author

Tod Goldberg is the author of the novels Living Dead Girl (Soho Press), a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, Fake Liar Cheat (Pocket Books/MTV), Burn Notice: The Fix (Penguin) and the short story collection Simplify (OV Books), a 2006 finalist for the SCBA Award for Fiction and winner of the Other Voices Short Story Collection Prize.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 211 pages
  • Publisher: OV Books; 1 edition (October 1, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0981589995
  • ISBN-13: 978-0981589992
  • Product Dimensions: 5.7 x 0.7 x 8.6 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: #1,701,938 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Tod Goldberg is the author of several books of fiction, including the novels Living Dead Girl, a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, Fake Liar Cheat and the popular Burn Notice series, as well as two collections of short stories, Simplify and Other Resort Cities. His essays, nonfiction, and journalism have appeared widely, including, most recently, in Best American Essays 2013. His latest novel, Gangsterland, will be released in fall 2014 from Counterpoint. Tod Goldberg holds an MFA in Creative Writing and Literature from Bennington College and lives in Indio, CA where he directs the Low Residency MFA program in Creative Writing & Writing for the Performing Arts at the University of California, Riverside.

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Tod Goldgerg is goddamn insane. He's a maniac. A sicko from whacko-dom. But I'm not reviewing Tod Goldberg, the man, I'm reviewing his book of short stories, "Other Resort Cities."

Tod Goldberg's short stories are goddamn insane. They're maniacal. The mind that thought them up is a sick whacko - but I mean that in a good way. Because sick whacko works. His stories scream, "you're a sick whacko too, that's why you're enjoying the hell outta this!" And it's true. I'm not ashamed to say it - my sick whacko mind is all up in simpatico with Goldberg's. His characters, although a bit too closely resembling members of my non-immediate family, are way out there weird. They either do nasty stuff, or have nasty stuff done to them, and the result is we have to witness their down fall, when in reality they should be put on the short bus to long term therapy sessions. To say Goldberg mines the depravity of real life for his surreal and often times uncomfortable subject matter is only too obvious. But is his Rabi really a mobbed up hit man on the lam?

Mondo Nior never tasted this good before - thank you Mr. Goldberg.
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It's as if Tod Goldberg, author of "Other Resort Cities" (I think he must have got the name from an offramp sign on Interstate 10 near Palm Springs) needed to get out for a run and flex his writing muscles - and flex he does: this collection of short stories exposes a 9-octave writing range. At one extreme, we hear from two little girls (written in second person!) who were abandoned as kids by a good father who is run off by a narcissistic mother. At the other extreme, we find ourselves inside the head of a mentally ill man who has turned his home (in a pricey gated community) into a Starbucks just for himself! Goldberg can write about the colors and moods of the desert like few others, from the existentialist desolation of the Salton Sea to the hubristic excesses of the country club set. If you liked Wells Tower in Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned, you'll definitely enjoy Other Resort Cities.
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Format: Paperback
Mr. Goldberg's latest short story collection gives us a gritty insider's look at characters who are stuck, who want out, characters looking in, stuck out in the cold, characters who have stories and pasts and problems and yet often become more than the sum of those problems in an instant. These are children, all grown up, trying to recall the present day's and put away their ugly pasts. These are people you know, people who normally hide the realities of their confusion and pain behind a big fake smile. They have willingly, with Goldberg's precise pen strokes, laid open their slivered up souls for your close inspection.

We meet a Las Vegas cocktail waitress who adopts a child from Russia only to lose everything she hoped to gain. We want to hug her, touch her, step in and warn her. We meet a man deserted by his wife who turns his gated community home into a Starbucks perhaps in his momentum he's simply searching for something that will not change, somewhere to belong, something called normalcy. We are given all the gore and yet we're left to come to our own conclusions. This is what the best short stories do. They talk to you, they entice you, dating your intellect and then they walk away leaving you wanting more.

The premise's of these stories, the settings, the characters, are all quirky and fraught with difficult situations, and yet they are so real the pages lay out before you like the hot mean streets of the resort vacation landscapes within. People shuffling through their often mundane lives, facing insane situations and yet these characters are real and come home to live within your brain long after you've turned the page, packed your suitcase and arrived back home.
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Format: Paperback
Having discovered Tod Goldberg with Gangsterland, I liked it enough to look at his past writing. Other Resort Cities is just an amazing collection of short stories, taking us into worlds right out of Goldberg's creation. All of them interest, and some just knock it out of the park. So, I am happy to join the chorus here.
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By Dully on September 27, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition
Pleasantly surprised, must read. Loved "Walls" one of my favorites! Didn't know what to expect but it was definitely powerful.
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