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We're in Trouble Paperback – March 1, 2006

4.9 out of 5 stars 19 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

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.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

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
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 324 pages
  • Publisher: Mariner Books; 1 edition (March 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0156032775
  • ISBN-13: 978-0156032773
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.8 x 7.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,580,195 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
The prevailing theme of these short stories is of love, in the face of death, and this core idea is viewed from a fascinating variety of angles: long-married love confronting terminal illness, sudden death of friends turning a young man into a reluctant father, love entwined in jealousy, depression and violence, love born of heroism. Each scenario presents real characters, people we all know, tightly drawn, speaking words we all recognize. You read these stories with a near sense of having heard of or known these people. I read this book straight through, gripped by each unique story, and look forward eagerly to future work from this author. Don't be dissuaded by the seemingly dark content; some of these stories are actually uplifting, or at least come to a satisfactory close.
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Format: Hardcover
The best story in this collection is "All through the House", a cinematic ride backward through time that explores the destruction of a house, and then of a family, all under the most tragic circumstances possible. It's the kind of story, if it were written by a lesser talent, that would tilt toward nihilism, toward death as spectacle, mass murder as entertaining diversion. Coake, though, works a special kind of magic, the kind that piles on the trouble, and then, without resorting to anything treacly or sentimental, leaves the reader with the feeling that, yes, bad things will happen, terrible, terrible things, but we will survive, we will go on, we will love and continue to love, and even those who have inflicted the worst pain will have also lived beautifully in moments, that no one is beyond pain, and that, while there might be no final redemption, there will be tomorrow.
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Format: Hardcover
The theme is death, its stunning finality, the one truth that is inarguable. Death comes in many forms, in carelessness, by accident, by design when living is no longer an option, always immutable. Its finality cannot be questioned, leaving an empty space once taken up by affection, as those left behind struggle to make peace with the aftermath of such devastation. Coake pierces the ordinary with the incisive blade of truth, nonjudgmental, people caught in the circumstances of their lives, laid bare before fate, defined by their responses. These are simple stories of complicated people confronted by their choices and their consequences.

Set in the Midwest, snow is a common factor, the weight of it, the cold, the sharp etching of emotions, an acknowledgement of extremes. Each story posits a different situation, where death, or the possibility of it, plays a central role. In "Cross Country", a boy takes a single step into manhood, traveling with a man who may or may not be his father. The boy is tentative, wary, riding in a rattling truck from Illinois to Colorado. There are no answers in this story, only questions and the knowledge that this boy's life has altered course. In "Solos", a famous mountain climber's wife endures the familiar agony of waiting to hear whether her husband lives or dies in his quest of the mountain. She has made a terrible bargain by loving this man, the mountain a mistress she cannot fight, torn between love and rage.

In "In the Event", a single young man is faced with raising the son of his best friends, just that night killed in a car accident, his life choices truncated without warning, as he grieves for the loss of the familiar while facing the challenge of the future.
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Format: Hardcover
Christopher Coake's first collection of stories reads more like the work of someone with decades of publication behind him. The writing is gripping, mature, taut, full of apprehension and revelation, and entertaining despite the difficult themes. What more do you want? Check out the long story "All Through the House" (the last piece in the collection) and tell me you haven't just read an instant classic.
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Format: Hardcover
The character development, the detail, the conflict, realistic dialogue, the themes-all the components of careful writing are here. But it's the pace that makes this book so much fun to read. These grim stories leap off the page when I read at night and then haunt me when I switch off my bedside lamp (especially "Cross Country"). Chris Coake is the literary Martin Scorsese-accessible plots but complex themes that require attentive reading. At his best, Coake finds the perfect balance between craft and story. He tells thrilling tales, and he tells them well.
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Format: Hardcover
As other reviewers have stated,these unusual stories combine the themes of love and death in some very troubling and thought provoking ways. An amazing debut collection of short stories with nary a dud in the bunch. My favorite by far was "All through the house", but all these stories are much better than the standard fare gracing the best seller list. Christopher Coake has an illustrious career ahead of him.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This amazing collection of short stories is one of the most accomplished debuts I've read in a long time. These dark, twisty tales map clean lines to the human heart and leave the reader shaken at every turn. It's hard to single out favorites from these amazing stories, but "In the Event" and "All Through the House" stand out for me. "In the Event" is a devastating and tiny exploration of what happens to one man when the very worst case scenario happens to him and his dark night working through it. And "All Through the House", which closes the collection, is a shattering look at a terrible murder, outside to in. From first to last this is top-notch serious-minded fiction, and Christopher Coake joins a short list that includes Ethan Canin and Dan Chaon as a writer who leaves you breathlessly awaiting his next work.
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