- 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: 40 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,547,926 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Falling While Sitting Down: Stories
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From the Author
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.
Top customer reviews
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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.
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.
And yet it was.
Far too long to send as a text message, yet one coherent thought from start to finish.
The moment was unexpected and satisfying, like that time you found a crumpled and forgotten $20 in your coat pocket.
In some ways the whole book is like that. I never knew what was coming but by the end of each story I wanted to know the next step in the plot and I wanted to meet the next character.
How fun is that?
The additional material by contributing authors Colin Wright, Chase Night, and Mark Robertson is different in style but very good nonetheless. Colin Wright's "The Beam" stands out in particular, like a crisp one act play.
I rarely buy books (I'm a library guy), but here I make an exception. You can't borrow it, so buy this book.
Seriously, where else can you spend this little and feel like you found a twenty?
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).*
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.)