In his striking debut collection, Coake considers how character is revealed under pressure. The title story is a stunner, a series of three vignettes in which a young man recalls a tragic accident, two lovers witness a death and a married couple grapple with the husband's terminal cancer. A misfit couple breaks into an Upper Peninsula cabin, but find themselves trapped in a blizzard in "Abandon." In "Cross Country," a man estranged from his wife takes their young son on a road trip; several shifts in point of view—from father, to son, to an outside observer—throw the dynamics of their relationship into question and blur the lines between love and menace. The story concludes with an ambiguous gesture made with protective intent: "He tightens his grip on the wheel, and concentrates instead on what he knows: the flat horizon stretched out ahead. The soft warmth of the boy's neck. His hand resting on it. The way his fingers curl, to fit its shape." "A Single Awe" introduces Dana, a married woman tormented by adulterous thoughts. Her husband is a good but dull man, and the selfless act of heroism that won her love also revealed her own limitations. With unadorned but dramatic, economical prose, Coake explores the human capacity for altruism and cowardice in these high-stakes tales.
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In these seven harrowing short stories, the characters often face serious physical danger, from nearly being engulfed in a fiery auto wreck to succumbing to the cold while snowbound in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. Spurred by these extreme situations, the characters experience deep emotional insights, although the painful truths they learn about themselves can be discomfiting. The scenarios depicted are dramatic and suspenseful, which adds immeasurably to the stories' readability. In "All through the House," for example, one of the most affecting stories in the collection, a sheriff in rural Indiana must escort a best-selling true-crime writer as she seeks information about a notorious murder-suicide. A house in the woods is the site of the Christmas Eve massacre, in which an enraged husband killed his entire family and then himself. He was the sheriff's best friend from childhood. As the sheriff grimly stonewalls the writer and her incessant probing, the scenes shift to the night of the murders and then further back, to childhood. Gripping reading from a talented newcomer. Joanne Wilkinson
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I really wish more people had heard of this book and read it. I remember reading this book almost two years ago when I randomly picked it up and the stories have still stayed with... Read morePublished 13 months ago by dneel
A magnificently written collection that will grab and hold you until the end. The characters vary and the viewpoints shift widely with each perspective. Read morePublished on February 2, 2013 by Mom of Marvelous Monsters
I found every story in Coake's collection, 'We're in Trouble,' compelling and exciting. Death and its ultimate finality loom large in the background of each story in one way or... Read morePublished on October 4, 2012 by CL
Best short stories I have read in a while-- I was pointed to Coake's collection after reading Nick Hornby's comment that "when you're reading these stories, you forget to... Read morePublished on September 3, 2011 by Ceaseless reader
Reading reviews of Kevin Wilson's "Tunneling to the Center of the Earth" led through Amazon links to Christopher Coake's "We're in Trouble"..... Read morePublished on March 5, 2011 by Lon Glover
This is an excellent collection of short stories and I highly recommend them to anyone. As others have indicated, the stories are about love in different situations and different... Read morePublished on February 21, 2011 by S. Merritt
Christopher Coake's debut collection is nothing less than exceptional!
"We're in Trouble" is easily one of the top three best books of short stories I have ever read. Read more
take the phone off the hook, don't control nothing with the remote, be prepared to drag at work the next day because you absolutely won't be able to put this down until the 4:00... Read morePublished on December 3, 2008 by blues_punk