The success of any short-story collection hinges on the author’s ability to create characters that immediately connect with readers. Lancaster (The Summer Son, 2011) excels on this point, ironically so because the inability to connect is his underlying theme. The stories, set in small towns along back roads, are populated with a sad-sack lot: an estranged father and son, a disgruntled newspaperman, miserable husbands and wives. Many of these individuals are actively engaged in running away from or toward something, the art of departure referenced in the title, often with no goal in mind other than to escape loneliness. On occasion, Lancaster, who has a gift for illuminating workaday life, relies on surprise twists to juice the plot or provide speedy resolution, as if he doesn’t quite trust the innate drama of everyday situations. He’s at his best in “Alyssa Alights,” a tale about a teenage runaway that unfolds honestly and organically. Though generally bleak in tone, Lancaster’s collection offers a glimmer of hope, concluding on a grace note with the aptly titled “Comfort and Joy.” --Patty Wetli
"Have you ever felt in your pocket and found a twenty you didn't know you had; how 'bout a hundred dollar bill, or a Montecristo cigar or a 24-karat diamond? That's what reading Craig Lancaster's Quantum Physics and the Art of Departure is like
--close and discovered treasures."--Craig Johnson, author of The Cold Dish
and Hell is Empty
"Craig Lancaster understands the human condition, all of it. The funny, the absurd and the fault-ridden awesomeness that is each and every one of us--or at least someone we know."--Megan Ault Regnerus, managing editor of Montana Quarterly"It's a real delight to inhabit Lancaster's lonely, darkly majestic Montana locations and desperate characters, a look at a slowly eroding 21st-century America that's as strong as many more well-known titles by major presses. It comes strongly recommended." - Chicago Center for Literature & Photography"While it is a literary work that deals with serious themes, there isn't an ounce of pretentiousness between the covers. It's absorbing, attention-grabbing, and well-written." - Gary Robson, owner of Red Lodge Books in Red Lodge, Montana.
"Lancaster continues to weave together hope and hopelessness with his cast of haunting, unpredictable characters." - Montana State of the Arts newspaper