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Where the Money Went: Stories Hardcover – Deckle Edge, July 14, 2009
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From Publishers Weekly
In The Birthday Girl, one of nine tales of ruined or decaying relationships in Canty's third collection, a divorced father reaches out to a woman in a bar to help, if I can, for just one night, her loneliness. This yearning for companionship resonates throughout, though the choices and consequences are far from uniform. They Were Expendable sees a man turning to the comforts of television following the death of his wife, to whom he wants to remain faithful; an unexpected romance gives him new clarity. In No Place in the World for You, the volume's most memorable entry, a real estate agent and his harried wife cope with a bite-happy child while the agent's clients deal with their own marital drama. The Emperor of Ice Cream tracks two adult children of separated parents, the younger of whom has just been released from the hospital after a drunken car crash involving his older brother; conflicts reignite and place them in a new and dangerous situation. Canty exposes the cracks and seams in ordinary marriages, skillfully examining infidelity and the range of directions life can take once the relationship has ended. (July)
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"Don't be fooled by the title. It's the diminishing sands of relationships Canty traces, in tales as spare as Raymond Carver's and as frank as a Larry David rant. 'Anger,' declares a real estate agent who can't find a home to please his wife, 'is the engine of marriage.' In Canty's world people lose control. 'Things are running away from me,' says a lonely woman. These stories linger."
—People (four stars)
"What Russell Banks does for the Northeast, Kevin Canty does for the world west of the Mississippi: bleeds it dry of romanticism and bluntly exposes the foibles of its inhabitants. His characters largely reside on the lower rungs of the class ladder, and he tends to treat them unsympathetically. Yet he's never cruel or cynical, and the nine stories in Where the Money Went put skill at tracking subtle emotional shifts on full display, artfully capturing people at the tender moments just before they go off the rails."
"Incisive, bracingly insightful…. Canty has great compassion for his sometimes-deluded, always-confused men: the college boy still reeling from having almost killed his brother; the married drinker who realizes that his new sobriety demands a big change in his life; the father who realizes he can't protect his 4-year-old son, ''a biter,'' from the disapproval of the world. Like us, they squander their good fortune foolishly, on boats and houses and affairs and more booze than is good for them, on lovers who will leave and others who will be abandoned.
Canty's uncanny ability to elevate the everyday sets these stories apart. He deftly re-evaluates dreams of success, makes drama and sense of modern emotional calamity."
—The Miami Herald
"In Kevin Canty's dude-sympathetic story collection Where the Money Went, the world is primarily described by men, who navigate the pratfalls of love, work and family with stunted emotional adroitness…. Canty's characters are hobbled by their inability to make or maintain real connections with other people. It's like reading nine different incarnations of Jake Barnes from The Sun Also Rises, all of them groping for a sturdy emotion that is just out of reach. Even Canty's most wretched characters, though, are not beyond saving…. [T]hat Canty can resuscitate such sad sacks is a testament to his storytelling gifts. There just might be hope for this crew of lost souls."
—Time Out New York
"Canty peels back the compromises of short-story writing. He specializes in a mild-mannered everyday darkness but gets at something less stereotyped than any number of self-consciously suburban writers.... His work has the sting of a Flannery O'Connor story, ... the raw economy of Ramond Carver's work.... Canty's characters are often on the brink of a bad decision. By unflinchingly taking the character - and the reader - through to the other side of these moments, Canty creates palpable anxiety and velocity that is deliciously unbearable."
—St. Louis Post-Dispatch
"Canty leaves readers heartbroken and empathetic, but not exhausted. Grade: A."
—The Plain Dealer (Cleveland)
"Canty's stories are very much Americana, pointed and spiky like a basket of freshly-sharpened pencils. His characters are the people you might otherwise ignore, the people you don't remark upon at the soccer match, the married couple you might think you know, but do not, the valiant losers and ungraceful winners…. Canty cuts to the chase, attacking his stories and characters as if they were a particularly hearty meal that needs eating. There's a pleasingly blunt quality to his language, lending his stories a raw quality. [Canty] teaches the reader with every story that short stories are indeed powerful and the feel and heft of that power is something different, not just from story to story, but essentially different from the stories told in novels."
"Expectations are squashed in each of Canty's finely crafted stories…. [These] semi-successful relationships may be unconventional, but they're intense nonetheless. Who knew misery could be so refreshing?"
"The author takes on varied themes—love, egotism, disillusionment—and renders them with a clear, sympathetic eye."
—Los Angeles Times
"Canty writes with vigor and a tender toughness that moves his characters with sad inevitability through their lives. In the title story, a gem of less than three pages, Braxton sits down to figure out where indeed the money went and finds his life has been one of waste, dissipation and self-indulgence: the "hippy school" for his daughter, the $1,000 bikes for him and his son, the extravagant ski vacation in Vail, his wife's drunkenly decadent behavior on the night of their initiatory pool party. "The rest of the money, what there was of it, went for the lawyers," is the story's searing closing sentence. "In the Burn" focuses on a firefighter's desire to impress his girlfriend's 11-year-old son by taking him to the site of a dangerous forest fire; instead, he ends up feeling, "that circle of love is closed…everyone else inside and me out in the dark." "Sleeping Beauty" reveals the fault lines in the marriages of two couples, while bachelor Andrew both witnesses and participates in their decline. In "The Birthday Girl," partier Gwen confesses, "the things that I want and the things that I need, I can't get them to match up." That statement pretty well characterizes the condition of most of Canty's characters. They want connection and relationships but end up with "the taste of ashes" in their mouths. Canty writes incisively and pays special attention to the nuances of longing, bitterness and regret."
"Canty exposes the cracks and seams in ordinary marriages, skillfully examining infidelity and the range of directions life can take once the relationship has ended."
Praise for Kevin Canty's previous works:
"Canty is a writer who not only cares to the bone about his characters, but who honors them, endowing them with an emotional richness that resonates in startling, often frankly disturbing ways." —Star-Ledger
"Canty possesses an instinctive ability to create old-fashioned, highly plotted stories, rich with incident and narrative tension … Caught in extreme situations, his people are forced to make choices about the direction of their lives, choices about the configuration of their dreams." —Michiko Kakutani, New York Times
"Canty is certainly one of the most talented short-story writers working today. He has a style that is lean but not minimalist. The stories are short and tight, and … oftentimes sing. Like short-story writer Tobias Wolff, a writer of equal but very different talents, Canty is interested in looking unflinchingly at what we really think and feel and the moral and ethical fallout of this, as opposed to how we believe we should think and feel … Canty has proved that the short story can be as vital a genre as its more glamorous and wealthy cousin, the novel." —Seattle Post-Intelligencer
"Like the work of Richard Ford and Ann Beattie, Canty's stories are skillfully paced. Models of compression, they draw us into their dramas, complicate our allegiances, and then leave us breathless. Canty's style, however, is his own: He cinematically highlights gestures and details, keeps his dialogue spare and realistic, and uses touches of lyricism to hint at longings his characters can't articulate." —Minneapolis Star Tribune
"With honesty and piquancy his fiction exposes the embattled inner lives of people who have learned to think of themselves as outsiders … Canty is a writer's writer, never letting slip an extraneous word. But unlike many an artisan of his gifts, he is also a reader's writer." —Baltimore Sun
"Kevin Canty is a poet among storytellers." —Atlanta Journal-Constitution
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Top customer reviews
In a fysical shop you can browse, see, feel touch, smell the book, read a bit in it.
In this case I expected the book to be more bigger. But no problem.
Having said (written) that. I searched in English bookshops in Amsterdam but just could not find it...
His newest book, `Where the Money Went', is a collection of nine short stories. Almost all of them are about damaged people, the precariousness of life and happiness, what it feels like to be dispossessed, lonely or disenfranchised, and the role of alcohol in the aforementioned.
My favorite story in the collection, by far, is `No Place in This World for You'. It is about a couple that has a little boy who bites. The boy bites rarely, but for reasons. As the story opens he has just been expelled from his day care program for biting. Neither parent can get a handle on their son or his biting. Mom is more interested in keeping in shape and exercising, not wanting to spend time with her son. Dad is a realtor who takes his son with him when he goes to show houses, setting him up with his own videos in a back room.
The collection starts off with `Where the Money Went', a very short story about the dissolution of a marriage. The husband is looking back at his marriage with anger and wondering where all the money went. `The Emperor of Ice Cream' is about two brothers who see each other for the first time following a terrible car accident that occurred about two months previously. One of the brothers was driving and escaped the accident uninjured. The other brother has been injured terribly and has spent the time since the accident in a nursing home.
In `In the Burn', a young boy finds a dog in a burnt forest where his mother's boyfriend works. His mother and her boyfriend are splitting up and the young boy feels lost and alone. `They were Expendable' is a powerful story about a man who has been grieving the death of his love for the last year. He gradually tries to enter the world of the living and connect with others. Themes of the other stories encompass loneliness, alienation, secrets in marriage and lost people. In `The Boreal Forest', Canty uses secrets in a marriage as a metaphor for the unknown and frightening occurrences in the natural world.
Canty's stories are often metaphorical or allegorical, laying out situations that appear simple at first but are frequently deeper and more complex than what they first appear to be. I especially appreciate the way that Canty creates situations primarily through dialogue and almost always from the male point of view. His stories are not happy ones, nor are they light. However, they are filled with the stuff of life, often the unhappy stuff. Despite unhappiness and challenges, the human spirit usually prevails.