From Publishers Weekly
Somerville's uneven debut collection portrays men and soon-to-be men in various states of transformational chaos. In "Puberty," Brandon, on the cusp of adolescence, attempts to wrest control of his body from Mother Nature by using vitamins to hasten the onset of puberty. In "Crow Moon," Seth mourns his fading childhood and faces a monotonous and unhappy adulthood. Somerville's men don't behave very differently from the teenagers: in "Cold War," an older doctor's affair with a disturbed young woman is the catalyst for a breakdown as he owns up to his impending mortality. One of the collection's better stories, "Trouble and the Shadowy Deathblow," is the first-person account of an unemployed food scientist who learns a deadly martial arts technique from a disabled man. His struggle to control his newfound power becomes a darkly comic portrayal of men afraid of their destructive power. Less successful are short dialogue pieces like "The Train" and "The Whales," which present the banter of teenage boys without sufficient context or the means to involve the reader. At his best, Somerville crafts stories that, with equal parts grace and humility, highlight mordant absurdity and revel in darkly comic moments. (Sept. 12)
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“A darkly comic portrayal of men afraid of their destructive power. . . . Somerville crafts stories that, with equal parts grace and humility, highlight mordant absurdity.” —Publishers Weekly
is a wittily demented and off-beat collection of stories about the peculiar joys and perversions of the ordinary lives of an eclectic group of boys and men. . . . Wildly entertaining and remarkably funny. . . . Reminiscent of such great, dark storytellers as T.C. Boyle and even Ray Carver.” —Artvoice
“Trouble is a great collection of stories, full of the true adventures of life and what it means to be a man.” —Hannah Tinti, author of Animal Crackers
“These gorgeous stories, written with wit and precision, are energized by Patrick Somerville’s improvisational humor and the authentic sympathy he brings to the tempest of ordinary lives. It is hard to think of another book quite like this one. Every story is provocative, revelatory, and satisfying.” —Stephanie Vaughn, author of Sweet Talk
“Wonderful. Here are stories packed with big-hearted humor, serious compassion, and plenty of loopy narrative thrust to keep you turning the pages. Patrick Somerville’s characters exist in a modern world where love and cruelty are indistinguishable, and he imbues their struggle with real grace. Oddly tender, dementedly funny, this book is a pleasure to read.” —Gabe Hudson, author of Dear Mr. President