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Unlucky Lucky Days (American Readers Series No. 9) Paperback – June 1, 2008


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Unlucky Lucky Days (American Readers Series No. 9) + The Hermaphrodite: An Hallucinated Memoir (Green Integer)
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 125 pages
  • Publisher: BOA Editions Ltd.; First Edition edition (June 1, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1934414107
  • ISBN-13: 978-1934414101
  • Product Dimensions: 0.4 x 5.3 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,546,602 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Brief, animist epiphanies—most shorter than a page—comprise Grandbois's folkloric debut. The frog of Greener Pastures dreams of becoming an architect like his father, and shapes his dung hills into replicas of churches. The blind cat in The Teacher decides on a career change, aided by an equally blind mouse. The growth on Aunt Mary's neck (The Growth) appeared as random as the decay of an isotope in an old growth forest when no one is there to hear. Absurdist and surreal, witty and ironical, Grandbois's observations make for pleasant grotesques: impressionistic idées fixes like the heads of soldiers... large enough to block passages against intruders. (June)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review

Audiophiles may recognize Daniel Grandbois as the bassist of some of Denver's most interesting bands, such as Tarantella and Slim Cessna's Auto Club, groups that run the gamut from gypsy to gospel to Gothic Americana. It's no surprise, then, that when he trades his four-string for a pen and paper, Grandbois takes a musical approach to fiction - with an equally sharp grasp of the absurd. The result is a melodic brand of flash fiction - two- to three-paragraph stories that could be called prose poems - that blends the rhythm and meter of music with the narrative thrust of fiction. The quirkiness of his music carries onto the page as well, for in Grandbois' surreal world a chair or a termite is as likely a protagonist as a person... Unlucky Lucky Days is like a peyote trip in the desert - things seem familiar, but different. If you really immerse yourself in these stories, you might find yourself questioning whether Grandbois' cracked perception just might be right. --Vince Darcangelo -- Rocky Mountain News, July 4, 2008

Brief, animist epiphanies--most shorter than a page--comprise Grandbois's folkloric debut. The frog of "Greener Pastures" dreams of becoming an architect like his father, and shapes his dung hills into replicas of churches. The blind cat in "The Teacher" decides on a career change, aided by an equally blind mouse. The growth on Aunt Mary's neck ("The Growth") appeared "as random as the decay of an isotope in an old growth forest when no one is there to hear." Absurdist and surreal, witty and ironical, Grandbois's observations make for pleasant grotesques: impressionistic idées fixes "like the heads of soldiers... large enough to block passages against intruders." -- Publishers Weekly, April 7, 2008

Daniel Grandbois's stories in Unlucky Lucky Days are tiny and explosive, like a violent series of sneezes. Two techniques are key to Grandbois's style. First, he is unabashedly a comic writer. This is avant-garde stand-up, right down to the punch lines flashing and fritzing like short-circuited bulbs at the end of his paragraphs. `Did you know that cranberries got their name from cranes? A crane without an ear named them so. It cut the letter e off the word because e stands for ear. That one could fly quite well. Unfortunately, it could only hear in circles.' Respect is due to a writer who plays the buffoon in a field like flash fiction, which is so often icicle-cold and-sharp, with the occasional brittle, bleak frost laid on for texture. And as the humor in these pieces gets hokier, the possible parallels with the American folktale tradition become more suggestive and sophisticated. The second marked tendency in Grandbois's work is that his love-hate affair with abstraction drives him to anthropomorphize everything from animals to inanimate objects to body parts to actions to cerebral immaterialities. A typical character in one of these stories is the urge. `Forty days and nights later, the urge left the clouds. It landed on a stone, which was grateful, as it had never had much of an urge to do anything.' Or the sound. `There was once a sound that made a nest of the hairs in some woman's ear.' Or the finger. `Skidding beneath the bed, the lost appendage withered and curled. It lay dormant forty years before the now old woman looked down there. The finger beckoned her under and struck like a snake.' Or the Chinese finger trap. `The scattered straw had had enough of the elephant foot's pranks. It wove itself into a large-scale Chinese finger trap and waited, crouching.' Other protagonists: the mirror, the drapery, the nose, the left hand, the sea squirt, the hair, the chair, the singing.

--Micaela Morrissette -- Jacket Magazine, March 08

The stories of Unlucky Lucky Days are the kind grown-up readers have probably forgotten how to enjoy. Part fable, part creation myth, these seventy-three whimsical tales by Daniel Grandbois are bedtime stories at their best.

Grandbois has the difficult task of jogging his audience's memory, re-teaching them what was once second nature: wonder (otherwise known as a suspension of disbelief). The first story, "The Yarn," sets readers up for rethinking their adult expectations of fiction. The protagonist, a ball of yarn, is detained by a violin spider. "The yarn stopped itself in its tracks and laid itself out, as that is how yarns tell their tales." Many of these pieces are similarly aware of how mischievous they are, of what fun they are having.

Yarn is not the only inanimate object to play a leading role. Other characters include a stain, a snowman, body parts, and even wads of gum. Animals are also common, including a giraffe named Happy Birthday Grandma. This world is nearly devoid of men and women. As the speaker cautions in "Sunny Side Up," "Cages don't always mean humans, especially in stories in which there are none." Of course, the creatures caging themselves seem to be warnings for people too comfortable in their houses.

Elsewhere in this collection, the moral is not so evident. Unlike traditional parables in which the meaning is obvious--be kind to your neighbors or never trust a crocodile--these stories conclude with riddles rather than platitudes. The moral, or just as likely, the punch line, is out of reach. The result is stories that never condescend and always delight, as if making sense is overrated, a bad adult habit.

Unlucky Lucky Days is not the only recent demonstration of Grandbois' imagination. His book The Hermaphrodite (An Hallucinated Memoir), to be released by Green Integer this fall, includes forty original woodcuts by Argentine printmaker Alfredo Benavidez Bedoya. This collaboration shares both the whimsy and the precision evident in Unlucky Lucky Days. Despite the tangential quality of these stories, they are never intentionally tricksy, but rather true to a world in which mustachioed spiders are made king and spin hammocks instead of webs. (June)

--Erica Wright -- ForeWord Magazine, March/April 08


More About the Author

Daniel Grandbois is the author of the Indie Next Notable Book and Believer Book Award Reader Survey Selection Unlucky Lucky Days (BOA Editions, 2008); the art novel The Hermaphrodite: An Hallucinated Memoir (Green Integer, 2010), illustrated by Alfredo Benavidez Bedoya (Argentina); and the prose poetry omnibus Unlucky Lucky Tales (Texas Tech University Press, 2012), illustrated by Fidel Sclavo (Uruguay). His literary body of work often includes collaborations across the Americas, showcasing extraordinary visual artists of Latin America. Daniel holds an MFA in poetry from Bennington College, lives in Colorado and tours extensively in Europe and North America with the band Slim Cessna's Auto Club.

QUICK PRAISE FOR THE BOOKS:
"These are works of surpassing literary merit... some of the most inventive, restless and creative fiction I have read in the last five years. [They] sustain contemporary American fiction, even rehabilitate it, and to have all these works in one place for readers of the future is to do a good thing for all who care about the condition of prose writing in North America." -RICK MOODY

"Reading [Unlucky Lucky Tales], I think of the great jazz improvisers or Angela Hewitt's version of Bach's "Goldberg Variations." Here is a plenitude, a world of effects and inventions, from a fine and mentally agile writer... This is a book of imagination's plenty. Ultimately, it is a book of wonder and delight. -ED OCHESTER

"Perhaps Daniel Grandbois is the love child of Rod Serling, HP Lovecraft, and Russell Edson. His prose poems hybridize shards of folk tale, sci fi, wacky animism, derailed creation myths, and surreal apocalypse... Kiss conventional reality goodbye and prepare to have your brain rearranged, to enter a realm in which scintillating, nonstop invention is god." -AMY GERSTLER

"One is tempted to look for precedents to his odd surrealism and verbal pranks, but it's clear Grandbois has staked out his own territory, one peopled with offbeat characters and varied discourses... The wise fool, an old conceit of literature, resurfaces, and he is of course Grandbois himself." -PETER JOHNSON

"Singularly original and captivating... an important work of fiction that should transform what notions of fiction may currently exist." -LUIS J. RODRIGUEZ

"These are funny, bizarre, moving stories--a pleasure to read." -LYDIA DAVIS

"[A] modern space-time set of interconnected myths and stories... startling sets of shape shiftings and melting tableaus... elegantly precise... graceful... a work of art." -ED SANDERS

"[A] collage of satire and slapstick, allegory and hallucination... an 'art novel' in the fullest sense." -MARGUERITE FEITLOWITZ

"A celebration of language in its purest form, exactly what poetry itself was supposed to be."-BEST EXPERIMENTAL BOOK Listing 2008, CCLaP (Chicago Center for Literature & Photography)

"A must read for anyone who cares about the future of American Literature." -DOUG MARTIN

"In a folklore-like fugue that resembles a darkly humorous Jorge Luis Borges or Italo Calvino, Grandbois... use[s] everything from animals to sentient pieces of paper to illustrate metaphysically dizzying truths about the world." -THE ONION

"Grandbois's stories are tiny and explosive, like a violent series of sneezes... This is avant-garde stand-up, right down to the punch lines flashing and fritzing like short-circuited bulbs at the end of his paragraphs." -JACKET MAGAZINE

"In his debut assortment of fabulist flash fiction, Grandbois delights us in small, with his chiseled prismatic shards." -RAIN TAXI

"Animated by a wonderfully droll and fantastical imagination, these little stories are delicious." -RIKKI DUCORNET

"A report from another world... [W]e are reminded of why we read fiction in the first place: to gain access to the wonderful peculiarities of the author's mind." -JEFF VANDERMEER (Amazon Daily Blog)

"Grandbois is a master of the double-edged word, of stories that both cut through the world like butter and double-back to saw themselves to bits." -BRIAN EVENSON

"Daniel Grandbois's trembling leaflets bring to life all the rejecta and detritus scattered in such silent and secretive array around us, recovering all we thought lost or dead." -ELENI SIKELIANOS


QUICK PRAISE FOR THE BAND:

SPIN MAGAZINE ONLINE
"...the best band at SXSW was Slim Cessna's Auto Club..."

ROLLING STONE, GERMANY
"What energy and soul!"

SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE
"Twice the power and energy of those Nick Cave shows."

PHILADELPHIA WEEKLY
"Truly an original, this band can go uptempo, downtempo and straight off into the stratosphere."

GADFLY MAGAZINE
"For years, the Auto Club has been considered the best live band in Denver. Hell, they might be the best band in America as well!"

THE ONION
"One of the most entertaining acts in Denver history."

SPLENDID MAGAZINE
"They're gradually staking their a claim as one of the era's greatest bands. Their recognition of country's roots, their spectacular musicianship, their willingness to experiment and their unmatched ability to craft unique, convincing narratives about characters who exist at the edges of our national consciousness come together to make music that is truly stunning, and that you won't find anywhere else."

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By John Domini on November 5, 2008
Format: Paperback
UNLUCKY LUCKY DAYS, a debut assortment, is fabulist flash-fic of the highest order. Nothing in the book runs so long as three full pages, & in general the work eludes the social & economic demarcations of what we like call "realism." Instead it offers disturbing yet charming shards of unbridled imagination. In a typical metamorphosis, a brass lion's-head knocker takes leave of its doorway, setting off to play middle-school pranks. All told, the collection divvies 73 surreal miniatures among seven sections labeled, as if Grandbois were a good Judeo-Christian, "Sunday" through "Saturday." Yet the sensibility comes across as pagan; spirits reanimate the world's common clay. He can be gloomy, suggesting for instance the nightmare morning of 9/11, or he can be healing, turning the Inferno into a Tunnel of Love. Indeed, inspired reversals at the last minute distinguish nearly all these abrupt dream-loops, now childlike, now chilling. These DAYS can create a climactic rush via a well-worked lack of commas & they can arrive at ironies that supply rightness and closure. At their best, they push cross-cutting valences to peak intensity, then leave us gasping. Now, on occasion, there emerges a world we recognize. "Hat and Rack" might have to do with sexual secrecy (the final word is "closet"), and "The Sea Squirt" might make an environmental argument. But even when the stories lack such grounding, the writer negotiates the shoals of cuteness -- the obvious danger here -- masterfully. He may work with signifying wads of gum or, repeatedly, with articulate spiders, yet he nearly always strikes a balance between the ticklish and the haunting. Those wads of gum mutate into the Weird Sisters of Macbeth (indeed, this text is rife with others, everyone from Borges to Bob Dylan) & in the end they achieve the timelessness of geometry.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Chriss Lyon on October 18, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Daniel has a keen sense of the bizarre, often overlooked aspects of life. His stories of stains and hairs are told from a perspective few, if any have the pleasure of seeking and the uniqueness factor is high! Not all will understand his art but anyone who is needing a trip down an unconventional road, try Unlucky Lucky Days.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By michele gourlay on August 3, 2008
Format: Paperback
" Unlucky Lucky Days" is a book of 73 succulent stories. Every word resonates with an allegorical style that opens the doors to an unusual universe of objects and characters-- "The Chair," "The Fish," "The Log," "The Yarn," "New Heaven," "The Urge," "The Left Hand." These stories are astonishing and surreal, satirical and philosophical, and written with great humor.

A third of the stories center on humans, but you will meet many other strange creatures here as well, like The Three Cranes--Fly No Oval, Hear No Oval, and Walk No Oval--and the beautiful but doomed giraffe, curiously named Happy Birthday Grandma.

From "The Hair:" "When the wind was just right, the hair made throatlike tunnels of itself and imitated birdscalls. `WHIP-poor-WILL... WHIP-poor-WILL,' chirped the hair at twilight, sometimes four hundred times without stopping."

"Unlucky Lucky Days" is an absolute treasure! One of my favorite tales is "Greener Pastures," in which a giant man-eating frog, who dreams of becoming an architect, shapes his dung heaps into replicas of the churches he has devoured so that when he leaves "once more for greener pastures, the people [are] stuck there, praying for their own.".
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By M. Grierson on October 21, 2008
Format: Paperback
Um... WOW. Something tells me that this author LOVES mushrooms... and I'm not talking about the saran-wrapped, grocery store variety, either. HAHAHA Honestly, I LOVED this book. It's the most intelligent, unique thing I've read in a long time. But yes... it's pretty much an acid trip in words.

Grandbois has been compared to Dr. Seuss, but I don't think that's quite right. They share creativity, to be certain, but Seuss is much more structured and "sensical." Reading this book was more like analyzing a Salvador Dali painting of indoor clouds or melting clocks. It is pure surrealism in the written form--which I didn't think was even POSSIBLE, so I gotta give some serious kudos.

So will YOU like it? I've come up with a three question quiz to help you determine if you will:

#1 Do you use the word "weird" as a compliment? (personally, I inherently LOVE things that are weird, so it's about the nicest adjective I know).

#2 When you wake up from a truly Alice-in-Wonderland-type dream, do you wish it was ACTUALLY REAL just because of its super-freaky awesomeness?

#3 Women--have you ever worn fairy wings in public, not as part of a Halloween costume? (Or men--have you ever wondered what it was like to be a stapler?)

If you've answered yes to at least two of these questions, CHECK THIS BOOK OUT. I really can't explain what it's like in words, so I'll include a complete chapter for you to analyze at your own discretion. Here it is:

"THE NEWSPAPER

"Having been read only once, the usual story, the small-town newspaper was stuffed into a cereal box, slated for the can. It tried to strike up a conversation, but the box couldn't read, no matter the words splattered all over it.
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