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Wake Up, We're Here Paperback – April 10, 2012
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This month's Book With Buzz: "Little Fires Everywhere" by Celeste Ng
From the bestselling author of Everything I Never Told You, a riveting novel that traces the intertwined fates of the picture - perfect Richardson family and the enigmatic mother and daughter who upend their lives. See more
''Hudgens doesn't shy away from the brutality of life on earth -- the illness, the decreptitude, the humiliations and the teen suicides -- but the grittiness is never gratuitous, and his stories are infused with compassion and hope.'' --Emily St. John Mandel, The Millions
''…a gritty collection of fiction about people who live rough, complicated lives. Awesome endings in every story. '' --Roxane Gay, Treehouse
About the Author
Dallas Hudgens is the author of the novels Drive Like Hell (Scribner, 2005), a Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers Selection, and Season of Gene (Scribner, 2007), a Book Sense Notable, and the short-story collection Wake Up, We're Here (Relegation Books, 2012).
Top customer reviews
The 10 stories in the collection are:
1. Target - 21 pp - A man who's a musician and con artist has to deal with a botched attempt to run a scam at a department store and a recently discovered daughter who has a crippling fear of getting caught in a flash flood.
2. Stella - 16 pp - A lonely woman visits a bar on her 48th birthday and develops an unlikely and unexpected relationship with her car mechanic.
3. Hand Job - 28 pp - The first of the stories in the collection with a protagonist that resembles those of Hudgens' brilliant 2 novels, as a smart alecky, live by his own code gambler and failed entrepreneur gets caught up in a scheme with his ex-wife's new, religious husband into rescuing a Chinese girl who was brought to the United States to work in a massage parlor.
4. Snowflake Chandelier - 17 pp - A young couple's marriage goes awry when a patient of the husband, who is a marriage counselor, commits suicide.
5. Medicine - 9 pp -- A man is dying and his only caretaker is his granddaughter, a druggie who steals his pain medication.
6. Zamboni - 31 pp - A blow-your-socks-off good story about an inarticulate lug and loner who tries to find his way in the world and deal with the memories of caring for his dying mother and his bittersweet memories of his father, a former semi-pro hockey player who abandoned his wife and child years before. You'll be shocked to see how much sympathy you feel for this violence-prone lug.
7. Velour - 19 pp - A man who always tried to lead a good life gets thrown off course when he discovers a stowed-away videotape of his wife having sex with another man right before they got married. He moves out and starts drinking non-stop while his wife and 15-year-old daughter try to reel him back in.
8. As Sounding Brass - 20 pp - A man who has to care for his crazed father befriends a young mother who has her own crazed person to deal with - her ex-boyfriend and father of her child who is now stalking her.
9. The Palace of Weariness - 16 pp - A guy who doesn't have to work because of a lawsuit settlement is chased out of his house by his wife who's tired of seeing him sitting around and doing nothing. After lying that he's found a job to keep busy, he starts hanging around the nursing home where his grandmother lives and there he meets a sexy and reckless nurse who takes him on a wild adventure.
10. The Scavenger's Daughter - 58 pp - A beautifully written and moving novella about a woman who's in a tailspin after her teenaged daughter committed suicide. After her marriage collapses, she forms a touching and unlikely friendship with a young man, barely a few years older than her daughter was when she died, who shares her daughter's taste in heavy metal music and who's lived through his own share of tragedies.
Let this be a warning and a promise to readers: Dallas Hudgens asks questions and delivers truths in profound and subtle ways in this collection of brilliant stories. Read them one at a time, not all in a row, and let your brain savor the language, the layered complexities, and the laughter in the pain.
Many of these stories are about people trying to find a better version of themselves when there's more momentum moving against them than seems reasonable or fair—and then discovering, suddenly, that they’re on the other side, and that there can be peace within and after disaster. At the same time, the characters are not always self-aware enough to recognize the larger forces of change in their lives, or to recognize what part they play in effecting that change for themselves—but because Dallas has done his work so well, we can see everything the characters can’t.
When people describe writing as tackling “what it means to be human,” or as being about characters who are “deeply human,” this seems to mean that the makeup of our flaws and how we handle them, and how we handle the flaws of others impinging on our world, are what make us who we are. Though these stories are (as the book blurb teases) about people who are deeply flawed, they're also about people whose flaws make them impossibly real to us, and because of that, impossible not to love. A character might have moved *one inch* from their starting point by the story's end, but it was a hard-earned inch—and sometimes an inch is all it takes.
The stories in this book make exceptional use of their brief lengths to paint beautifully detailed portraits. By the end of each story, you know the hell out of who these people are. The stories suss out the point in a person's life during which a crucial change will occur, and show, with insight and precision, how the character both causes and experiences that change. I can’t pick a favorite. I love them all.
Okay fine, Zamboni. Or maybe The Scavenger’s Daughter. Or As Sounding Brass.
Or all of them.