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The Miniature Wife: and Other Stories Hardcover – January 10, 2013


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Riverhead Hardcover; First Edition edition (January 10, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1594486042
  • ISBN-13: 978-1594486043
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1.1 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (42 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #883,199 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Debut writer Gonzales blends imagined histories and biographies with the supernatural and scientific in 18 energetic tales depicting the bizarre as everyday events. Largely set in Texas, the author’s home, these stylized stories disclose a zombie-infested mall, an animal-ridden house, and a shed-dwelling unicorn. Swamp monsters battle robots and a father becomes a werewolf, while artists and anthropologists reevaluate their careers. In the uproarious title story, a scientist accidentally shrinks his wife, leading to an absurdly ferocious rivalry involving a dollhouse, dead flies, and makeshift moats. And in the collection’s defining opener, a writer aboard a hijacked plane that has been circling Dallas for 20 years chronicles his fellow passengers’ acceptance of life in airborne captivity. Loosely anchoring the book is a series of wry, encyclopedic entries recounting the mythic lives of a clown, poet, scientist, and zookeeper, respectively, and another about an innkeeper who shares the author’s name. Although these whimsical additions feel extraneous in an otherwise fascinating collection, Gonzales expresses empathy and demonstrates an impressive knack for violent humor, disturbing satire, and genre-infused literary fiction. --Jonathan Fullmer

Review

"These stories are wrought with forceful clarity, Borgesian inventiveness and enchanting, devious wit—an unforgettable debut from a uniquely gifted writer."
– Wells Tower, author of Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned

"These are beautiful, strange truths—mad, weird, funny and unforgettable. Manuel Gonzales possesses a brand new American literary voice. This is vital work from an exciting new writer."
—Ben Marcus, author of The Flame Alphabet

“This book has everything you could ask for in a collection, and even things you hadn’t thought to ask for, but secretly wanted: unicorns, mobsters, swamp monsters and werewolves. Manuel Gonzales weaves the supernatural into the lives of everyday citizens, from anthropologists to airline passengers, and the result is pure magic mixed with humor and deep humanity.”
–Hannah Tinti, author of The Good Thief

"You know that feeling you get when you pick up a book and realize you are hearing a voice you have never heard before but will be hearing for a long time? I had that feeling on page 5. Please pick up this book - you will have that feeling. Dark, smart and strange in a way that initially had me grasping for comparison but that ultimately revealed itself to be something new."
—Charles Yu, author of How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe

“Manuel Gonzales’s The Miniature Wife is a marvel—a beautiful, hilarious and moving reinvention of the gothic, a testimony to the sublime powers of the imagination and language. This a book of extraordinary joy, compassion, horror and grace all rolled into one.”
—Dinaw Mengestu, author of How to Read the Air and The Beautiful Things that Heaven Bears

“It’s easy to compare Manuel Gonzales to George Saunders, but it would be just as easy to compare him to Borges or Márquez or Aimee Bender…He makes the extraordinary ordinary, and his playfulness is infectious.”
—Benjamin Percy, Esquire

“Excellent…Gonzales has built a peerless fictional universe by populating his stories with zombies, unicorns, werewolves and space warriors, and then giving them the sensibilities of worried middle managers…hilarious and chilling…a superior collection of writing and a signpost of an emerging talent with a strong and distinctive voice.”
—Michael Lindgren, The Washington Post

"Lucid and confident...because his prose is never sloppy and his rhythm is impeccable, Gonzales's sentences unfold with an unusual smoothness...these stories showcase an exciting new voice... [they] ring and resound."
—Aimee Bender, The New York Times Book Review

“Is there a term for something that's sad, funny, and strange all at once? Sunge? Frad? Because that would describe this imaginative debut…even the most absurd emotional conflicts feel familiar somehow, which only makes them more moving.”
—Melissa Maerz, Entertainment Weekly

“Gonzales’ voice is so new and different and dazzling that you won’t be able to put down his book.”
—Steph Opitz, Marie Claire 

“The stories are written so believably, they handle the strange and surreal so carefully, that you want to believe the impossible is possible.”
—Roxane Gay, Tin House

“Remarkable…with an unerring eye for the magnificently weird and funny…hilariously familiar, and also painful and heartbreaking. Gonzales brings great humanity to his oddball scenarios”
—Julia Holmes, Men’s Journal

“Wildly imaginative, at times surreal, and always captivating… Gonzales creates these bizarre scenarios that are so utterly believable you forget how impossible they actually are. There is an intelligent economy to his prose throughout the collection and I was thrilled by the originality of his ideas and how they were rendered.”
—Roxanne Gay, The Rumpus

“Impressive…There are true moments of Kafkaesque absurdity and Borgesian fantasy…It pays to suspend disbelief, dive right in and revel in the mayhem.”
—Malcolm Forbes, San Francisco Chronicle

“Delightful freakishness.”
—Susannah Meadows, The New York Times

“A triumph of the form…exhilarating… Gonzales' command of genre and his defiance of convention ripple throughout.”
—Shawn Badgley, Austin Chronicle 

“Manuel Gonzales is his own weird, imaginative, witty self. Any story by him is going to take the reader on a ride through a new world that is eerily like our own, yet full of the unexpected.”
—Jenny Shank, Dallas Morning News

“A volume of artfully structured tales… a wild adventure through the human condition.”
—G. Clay Whittaker, The Daily Beast

“[The Miniature Wife] will stick with you. The places and characters will ring daily in your mind.”
—Cate McGehee, The Stranger

“Deeply imaginative… . With commendable skill, Gonzales seamlessly blends the real and the fantastic, resulting in a fun and provocative collection that readers will want to devour.”
Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Rife with ingenuity and beholden to few rules…Delightfully eerie tales from the dark side.”
Kirkus Reviews

“With an astringent wit… intelligence and versatility.”
—Emily Donaldson, Toronto Star

“An exciting new addition to the modern fabulist genre.”
—Emily Temple, Flavorwire.com

The Miniature Wife will entertain your intellect.”
—Black Balloon Publishing blog

“With clear, matter-of-fact writing and relatable characters who are forced to make heartbreaking decisions… you get crazy scenarios mixed in fine writing and profound thoughts about the human condition and the state of the world. Manuel Gonzales can make you believe anything.”
—The Hispanic Reader blog

Customer Reviews

Nevertheless it's definitely worth a read.
Amazon Customer
Both a horrific story of survival and metaphor for starting over, this was a great way to end the book.
T. Sparks
The stories are well written, humorous and very creative.
Zdarsky1

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By T. Sparks on January 13, 2013
Format: Hardcover
I just finished reading the stories in this amazing collection several hours ago, and they are still haunting me, tickling at the edges of my brain like the unholy tongue of a zombie (yes, two of the stories are about zombies). These stories were unsettling and disturbing at times, humorous and bizarre at others, but in all cases brilliantly written gems that look directly into the heart of what it means to be human. Each story seems innocent at first, but eventually things go horribly wrong, leading to that unsettled feeling I was talking about. The stories are all told in first person in a slightly detached way, as though the strange events the characters find themselves in the middle of are simply run-of-the-mill occurrences. The deadpan delivery and overall lack of emotion from these narrators might lull you into thinking these stories are safe, but they aren't. Here's a breakdown of some of my favorites:

Pilot, Copilot, Writer - One of my favorites, this strange tale is about a hijacked plane that has been flying in circles over the city of Dallas, TX for twenty years. The reasons behind what the hijacker wants and why he's flying in circles go unexplained, but the curious way the passengers handle this problem is part of the charm of this story.

The Miniature Wife - A man accidentally shrinks his wife and then tries to atone for his horrific mistake by building her a dollhouse. What starts as an almost funny premise takes a darker turn when things begin to escalate out of control, and the narrator and his wife wage war on each other. I won't go into details, because this is one story you'll want to read for yourself, but let's just say the family cat is involved...
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Nelson Antonio Denis on January 30, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
In his 1989 essay "Stalking the Billion-Footed Beast," Tom Wolfe warned of those who wrote "on the assumption that the true enemies of the novel were plot, character, setting, and theme."

Sure enough, as Wolfe foretold, "New types of novels came in waves, each trying to establish an avant-garde position out beyond realism. There were Absurdist novels, Magical Realist novels, and novels of 'Radical Disjunction' in which plausible events and plausible characters were combined in fantastic or outlandish ways, often resulting in dreadful catrastrophes."

Some of those catastrophes nearly sank several imprints, who now rely on vampires and spanking to save them.

THE MINIATURE WIFE is not one of those catastrophes. It is sharply observed, densely imagined, and a near-perfect evocation of our fractured human condition circa 2013. The magic realism is there, with traces of Borges, Kafka and Gabriel García Marquez woven through the stories. But there are other, and subtler, layers. Ibsen's Doll House lives inside the title story. Another piece, the minimalist "Cash to a Killing," would fit comfortably beside the Hemingway Nick Adams tales. The dirty realism of Raymond Carver and granular precision of early Chekhov suffuse the entire collection.

It is a strange, haunting book - a menagerie of lost souls, a Madame Tussauds of the human spirit, an objective correlative for a mad planet.

Manuel Gonzales has done his homework. He is a balanced, mature writer whose imagination matches the surreality of our times. He arrives in full throat in this debut work.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Bickerald McSwarvey on April 21, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
There is something that is missing from all these stories. I like the premises, I like the ideas that he starts off with, but then they never end in a satisfying way. I wanted to like these stories a lot...they just didn't do it for me.
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8 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Brian Kiernan on February 10, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
What we have here are not stories but writing exercises: often clever, occasionally inspired, usually well written (with some glaring exceptions). These exercises might have been assignments in a creative writing class, where the emphasis is on the turn of a phrase and an unbridled imagination, rather than the crafting of coherent, or even complete, stories. You will read elsewhere of the author's soaring imagination, his delightful "freakishness" and his gift for allegory (that old stand-by when nothing quite makes sense). Each of these writing expeditions has a promising premise, an engaging beginning and a sustainable middle: what none of them have is an ending. They are, in sum, a cheat.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Jon Flaherty on March 12, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I know this book has got some great reviews. The short story by the same title is pretty good and I found the others to be a bit mixed. I read about half of it and stopped.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Natalie Krueger on February 13, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Some of the stories involve normal plot structures but contain impossible situations. Others are about mundane things, but the plot structures are unique. All are delightful. I feel like every person on earth would enjoy at least one of these stories.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By orangeblossom on February 13, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Terrific stories, talented writing, unexpected characters and story line. I don't need a beginning/middle/end; these stories were fabulous to read and sparked interesting discussions. Although I understand how these stories may not be for everyone, their uniqueness and style are memorable.
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Format: Paperback
If I was trying to sum this collection up in buzzwords, I would have to go in the route that would lead me to eventually calling it 'ephemeral', or perhaps (and god forbid) even 'transcendental'. The truth of the matter is this novel does feel dreamlike, the stories float in and float out as you read them. When they are over you are never sure what exactly it is they took from you, but you know something is missing. The first story alone is a somewhat satirical, somewhat sincere take on the 'daily grind', I won't go to into it here (buy the book dude!), but I will just say after reading it you will wonder what the point even is to pouring yourself that second cup of tea. It isn't going to taste better than the first, and honestly you have had too much caffeine today anyway. You will then go to bed more assured that tomorrow will come, and less comforted by that fact than ever before.
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