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The Peripatetic Coffin and Other Stories Paperback – Deckle Edge


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Ecco; 1 edition (May 7, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0062203835
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062203830
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.4 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #393,427 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Many of the eight stories in Rutherford’s first collection explore risk taking and the way men and boys deal with risk by facing it, provoking it, or running from it. Rutherford’s mastery of setting and world building lends these stories tangible reality, while lyrical, character-appropriate language adds authenticity to the compulsively readable plots. Rutherford’s greatest strength resides in the sweetness and strength of his characters, who face up to loss, misfortune, and heartbreak with courage and a weird kind of humor that makes these stories both resonant and rereadable. “The Peripatetic Coffin,” set at the end of the Civil War, features the crew of the Confederate submarine H. L. Hunley as they torpedo the USS Housatonic, hoping to break the blockade of Charleston harbor. The haunting “Summer Boys,” set in the mid-1980s, describes the ups and downs of two boys’ friendship, including their unexpressed emotions and unspoken, fierce devotion. In “Dirwhals,” journal entries describe the actions of a crew on the hunt for endangered animals in a postapocalyptic world. Libraries will find this a great addition to short story collections. --Ellen Loughran

Review

“Rutherford’s sharp, inspired debut collection runs the gamut of emotion and genre, blending laughter and misery, reality and fantasy, in eight tales that ponder the methods in which humans achieve isolation. . . . These are robust, engaging stories.” (Publishers Weekly (starred review))

“[A] fine debut collection. The stories serve as compass points on a map of desolation and isolation. . . . This is a beautiful book about human suffering, about human quandaries. It is also about bravery, history, love, longing, scientific and sexual exploration.” (Minneapolis Star Tribune)

“Refreshingly raw . . . [Rutherford’s] powerful debut presents each scenario in a humorous, reality-based manner, exploring life’s various limitations and exposing the truth of its unpredictability... Rutherford reveals something painstakingly humane and beautiful in mistakes and misdirection.” (Nylon Magazine)

“Rutherford’s mastery of setting and world building lends these stories tangible reality... compulsively readable plots... the sweetness and strength of his characters, who face up to loss, misfortune, and heartbreak with courage and a weird kind of humor... makes these stories both resonant and rereadable.” (Booklist)

“The Peripatetic Coffin, Ethan Rutherford’s debut collection of short stories, is a keeper. His work creeps up on you when you’re not looking. . . . Eight masterful tales inject power, subtlety and emotion into an unforgettable cast of beleaguered, doomed characters.” (Shelf Awareness)

“Oh how I love these stories! Ethan Rutherford can slay you with humor and buoy you within the midst of tragedy. His range is amazing. Every story is 100% Grade-A storytelling. I bow down to The Peripatetic Coffin.” (Alice Sebold, author of The Lucky Bones and Lucky)

“This is a flat-out beautiful book of stories... Not all books of stories are page-turners, but this one is.” (Charles Baxter, author of National Book Award finalist The Feast of Love)

“Rutherford’s wildly inventive collection is nothing short of a revelation.... no experience is beyond this very fine writer’s ambitious grasp. He gives us the world with each story, with the world’s full measure of heartbreak and hilarity.” (Ben Fountain, author of National Book Award finalist Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk)

“Funny and wrenching, featuring hapless fatalists who nonetheless never stop striving, even as they continue to squander opportunities. And yet they never let us forget that there’s always the possibility that they will learn--even if it’s the hard way--to see beyond themselves.” (Jim Shepard, author of author of National Book Award finalist Like You'd Understand, Anyway)

“My desert island book. The one I will always carry with me... each story is a vessel of longing and possibility; collectively, they present a mosaic of our past and our future, reinvigorating the art of storytelling... a revelatory feat of the imagination... an incomparable, vital debut.” (Paul Yoon, author of Once the Shore)

“Ethan Rutherford’s stories are absolutely perfect. He writes with such sensitivity and clarity about how and why things come undone and fall apart. I rarely feel this close to heartbreak, this strengthened by a writer clearly doing something special” (Kevin Wilson, author of The Family Fang)

“A confident and winning collection, every story in The Peripatetic Coffin feels necessary and true. Ethan Rutherford gets it.” (Patrick DeWitt, author of The Sisters Brothers)

More About the Author

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Impressive first book of short stories by the Author.
Denise Bell
To enjoy one thought brought about by Ethan Rutherford's story in the dark, under the blankets and fall asleep to that one emotion.
mynewfavoriteauthor
All the stories are wonderfully written with great characterizations and terrific themes.
Bonnie Brody

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Bonnie Brody TOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on May 10, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
What a joy it is to come across this wonderful book of short stories. Each one is a gem in its own right. The stories vary greatly and several have to do with seafaring or land faring boats or machines. All the stories are wonderfully written with great characterizations and terrific themes.

The title story is about The Hunley, a Confederate submarine that has had two unsuccessful missions killing thirteen men due to malfunction. This is the story of its third mission and what kind of man signs up for such self-defeat - one with hip displacement, another with a severed leg tendon caused by his own bayonet, one with panic disorder, etc. Seven men volunteered out of 400 volunteers. Their job is to sink the largest Union frigate they can find. "They place bets on the time it will take us to sink ourselves. The odds are on less than a week." The story is funny and poignant at the same time. Since I am not particularly interested in the specifics of the Civil War, only writing of such excellence could have had me so riveted.

`Summer Boys' is a lovely rendition of two fifth grade boys, born four days apart, who spend their summer together like twins. The beauty, angst, and fear that comprises this friendship is felt viscerally.

`John, For Christmas' tells of a couple who wait anxiously and fearfully for their mentally ill son to arrive home for Christmas.

In `Camp Winnesaka', a less than thriving camp, the camp mascot named Moosey disappears and the camp leader decides it was stolen by a rival camp. He declares war and in the process, several campers die.

In 1914, a group of Russian peasants sign up on the `Saint Anna' for a journey in a ship that is heading north.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Kent Hudson on February 23, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
It's been a while since I've read a collection of short stories, and I'm glad I rejoined the fold with this one. The way I describe it when recommending it to my friends is that each story takes a piece of you with it. Though many of the stories are elliptical, none of them feel like cheap shots; they live on in your mind, waiting for you to write the endings.

Highly recommended.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Samiam on January 11, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
These short stories are excently crafted, well-written, and leave you wanting more. While probing the darkest parts of our existence, they show great humanity. Each story is thought provoking, the characters are developed in a way that makes you actually care about what happens to them, and, yet, you are left to try and figure out just exactly what happens. Not the book for those hunting for neatly packaged happy endings, but if you like to probe into the bleaker parts of life, this would be a great read for you.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Denise Bell on August 29, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Impressive first book of short stories by the Author. Some stories grow alongside historic events interpreted originally by an inventive author. Give it a try.
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