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Falling While Sitting Down: Stories Paperback – July 28, 2012

4.3 out of 5 stars 40 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Herculean debut. . . . Reality never lies--this book is a stone cold classic."
- 1500Club

From the Author

FOREWORD

If you're reading this, then it's too late to turn back. It's too late to set this book down and pretend it wasn't written and act as if you didn't read at least a piece of it. And it's too late to avoid thinking about some of life's harder questions, questions without definitive, cookie-cutter answers. Questions like What is the meaning of life? and What does it mean to be human? and How do I explain loneliness? 

Sure, you can set this book down. I mean, it's just a book of made-up stories, right? And after all, how much can one learn from fiction anyway? But even if you set this book down and walk away, you won't be able to stop thinking about these questions. These questions existed within you well before this book was ever written.

The first four stories in this collection are attenuated stories from my novel, As a Decade Fades. These four stories are meant to function on their own, but they also come together in the novel as fragments of a larger narrative, giving them a new context altogether. Much of my fiction is influenced by real life, though it's safe to say that I am not any of the characters in these stories. At least I don't think I am. Or am I? 

The truth is that I meandered between reality and fiction while writing these stories, so much so that I'm not entirely certain which parts are made up anymore. My novel was written during--and directly after--the four most difficult years of my life, and I've never worked harder on anything. For me, at this point, none of this is made up. For you, please assume everything that follows this foreword is entirely fabricated.

It is also safe to say that my stories have certain unavoidable debts. Unlike some writers who claim to be uniquely unique, I must acknowledge that while I desire to be unique, I am influenced by my influences. That is to say that I'm influenced by my culture, by Gen-Xers and Gen-Yers alike, by my close friends, by literary authors, and most significantly by music. My words often take on the characteristics of my favorite fiction writers, attempting to panegyrically grasp and outspread their beauty, borrowing stylistically from their perfectly imperfect narratives, their long run-onish sentences, their forward-facing compound conjunctions, their solipsistic and lonely characters, their lapidary prose, their enchanting violence, and ultimately their mixture of hope and despair. My words also tend to absorb the auditory and lyrical qualities of some of my favorite musicians, from modern singer-songwriters to the 90s hip-hop artists who fueled my teenage years. I hope that it is the confluence of these influences that actually makes my writing unique, that allows me to identify with two generations and convey their feelings and emotions through my characters and their stories.

Lastly, I'm incredibly thankful to have three of my friends--Colin Wright, Chase Night, and Mark D. Robertson--contribute to this collection, expanding the narrative beyond the scope of my own four stories. These three young writers are talented men whom I'm happy to call my friends. 

The seven stories herein vary drastically, but they all share one thing in common: each story is about what it's like to be a human being during incredibly complex times.

--JFM
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 122 pages
  • Publisher: Asymmetrical Press (July 28, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1938793005
  • ISBN-13: 978-1938793004
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.3 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (40 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,042,324 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I don't review much, really. I had read some of the essays at The Minimalist and enjoyed them. I am a writer and I like to support other writers, and thought it was really cool how Joshua was taking his life in control and just writing. I don't know what I was expecting really, but I had high hopes.

As a reader I just didn't know where to look in his stories. His narrative eye was always noticing something, which is great if it's a detail picked well, but it just seemed so random and never seemed to push the story forward. Then when there were just a few characters it seemed to go towards the melodramatic.

I think, maybe, this is one of those times where the idea gets in the way of the story. The title story was a prime example, more of an anthropology lesson than a story. Granted none of Joshua's seemed so idea-heavy as The Beam was. Overall, I feel like the author knows how to get all his strands together, but he doesn't know how to weave yet.

I gave it two stars, because one star just looked too sad. I know he worked hard, but in my eyes there is so much work that needs to be done here to make it something truly engaging.

To prove I'm not a curmudgeon, however, I will mention some short story collections I have enjoyed in book form that are also available on Kindle, Kevin Wilson's Tunneling to the Center of the Earth is one of my favorites as far as newer, younger writers. Judy Budnitz is also a good read in that same vein. I can only speak for Flying Leap(only available in book form), not Big American Baby. John Cheever is older and, to be perfectly honest, dead, but also excellent, and his Pulitzer prize winning collection Stories has many gems. "The Scarlet Moving Van" is my favorite.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Joshua's work has a depth, width and breadth often missing in today's fiction writing. I'm not even that big a fan of fiction and I find myself drawn into his stories. They have a way of engaging the reader at a deep emotional level. I found myself relating to much of his writing, highly recommended.
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I'm not a book reviewer, so you'll forgive me if I fail to artfully capture the essence of this collection.

It's good.
Really good.
I read it through in one sitting.
First story reminds me of David Foster Wallace's work.
I'd say the book fits the description.
These are lonely, broken characters, and they are all looking for something to make them whole.
If you're expecting thinly veiled allegory on the virtues of minimalism (I was) you will be disappointed (if you enjoy thinly veiled allegories) or pleasantly surprised (if you prefer real writing).*

Recommended.
Will be looking forward to JFM's upcoming novel.

*I am a lover of literature first, and minimalism second. The minimalism is there, but it's wrapped up in nice, subtle symbolism. No Aslan to be found. (The Perra del Norte doesn't count. She's awesome.)
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As a person who works in digital marketing, the history of how I came to read this book is interesting. I was on the train, looking through my Kindle library for something new to read and I saw "Falling While Sitting Down." It is fiction, which I spare precious little time for. I've seen it my library for months but had no memory of how I acquired it. Then I noticed the author, someone whose name comes up often on my G+ stream and just that day he had shared a link about how fiction is good for your brain. Synchronicity is the right word here. It happened because of a clear set of circumstances that was destined to end up with me reading the book. Looking back I probably read about it when the author guest posted on Zen Habits. The most interesting thing to me is that this is about as far from traditional book marketing as you can get.

Even though I am not of the generation of the authors, the stories resonated and stayed with me in because the issues are universal. That's a sign of good writing. The book draws you in from the first sentence "If you're reading this then it's too late to turn back." The writing is so picturesque. I could feel myself in a third floor walk-up smelling the smells, seeing the scene and feeling a bit achy on awakening alongside the main character in one of the stories.

Now that I've discovered this author from his lesser known position as a fiction writer, I'll go back and read his blog and I'm sure that will take me to more delightful discoveries.
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I was surprised by this book. I've read the authors blog and figured this would be interesting. This is a collection of short stories. Though, the first story is most of the book. My main criticisms are that I had trouble caring about what the characters were doing and that the language used was way over the top, flowery, wordy and used obscure vocabulary. At one point there was the whitest catalog of how black people talk. Some sort of flowery whimsical prose that didn't really work.

There were two stories I did like though. There was one about a guy that had a relationship with a girl and his socks. I was laughing out loud during that story and it did make me think about things. Even as I thought the author had a strange focus at the end.

The other story was about an old man and his dog to wrap up the book. This was a sweet story.
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