Books

All Things, All at Once

all things all at once cover

The long-awaited new collection from Lee K. Abbott, “Cheever’s true heir, our major American short story writer” (William Harrison).

Here are stories about fathers and sons, stories about men and women, and stories about the relationships between men by one of our most gifted story writers. The narrator of “The Who, the What and the Why,” begins breaking into his own house as a sort of therapy after his daughter dies. In “The Human Use of Inhuman Beings,” the main character realizes that his closest relationship is to an angel, who appears to him only to announce the death of loved ones. All Things, All at Once reminds us why Lee K. Abbott is to be treasured: his perfect pitch for tales of hapless Southwesterners, his way with sympathetic irony, his eye that skillfully notes the awkward humiliations—common heartbreak, fractured families—and records it all in lyrical, affectionate language. In tales new and from previous collections Abbott examines lived life and the lies we necessarily tell about it.

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One of Star Wars, One of Doom

one of star wars one of doom

One of Lee K. Abbott’s most exciting selections from All Things, All at Once is now available in a handsome limited edition perfect-bound chapbook. The story follows Mr. DeWine, a high school civics teacher looking for the love that will bring meaning to his middle years, and the two alienated students who plot death, havoc, and woe. A lightning ride from start to finish, with Abbott’s signature voice carrying the reader throughout.

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Wet Places at Noon

wet places at noon

Abbott’s community is pure Americana, a wild world inhabited by gloriously street-smart smartasses: overeducated, underemployed men mourning for the confident women who have left them—or have they?—but knowing that equally confident women are just around the corner—or are they? His urgent, maximalist style allows their exhilarating voices to be heard and remembered.

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Living After Midnight

living after midnight

“Living After Midnight” comprises five short stories, all of which have appeared in literary magazines (“Sweet Cheeks,” the only third-person story of the five, was first published in Harper’s Magazine), and the title piece, a novella occupying a little more than 120 pages in print and straining to double itself into a novel. One of the pleasures of “Living After Midnight” is that it manages to avoid that inherent temptation.” – George Garrett

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Dreams of Distant Lives

dreams of distant lives

“Warmth lifts and fills these tales by an accomplished storyteller–they are also infused with humor, a bittersweet sorrow and deep affection for the follies and foibles of people who love. Writing about a sinning minister as in “A View of Me from Mars”; a war-crazy young soldier in Vietnam in “Why I Live in Hanoi”; or the football coach/world leader in the futuristic “The Era of Great Numbers,” Abbott delivers a wry and respectful vision of human nature unsullied by sentimentality or falseness. Current in content and form–the terrain is the human spirit in the face of loss, most often divorce, with plenty of trailer homes and Piggly Wiggly stores in sight–the stories are neither grim nor discouraging, not even the saddest, “Once Upon a Time,” or the nearly bleak coming-of-sexual-age, “1963.” The tales are distinguished by rightness of dialogue and permeance of place, usually the dry lands of New Mexico. Abbott ( Strangers in Paradise ) displays fully rounded view of human nature, and again reveals himself as a fine exponent of the short story form.” – Publisher’s Weekly

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Strangers in Paradise

strangers in paradise

“This is Abbott’s third collection (his previous collections include The Heart Never Fits Its Wanting ( LJ 12/1/80). Like the American Southwest that is their setting, these 14 stories are scorched and crude and sometimes poignantly beautiful. A main character, variously named, threads through many of them. He has grown up in New Mexico and returned there to live, and his spiritual deformity perhaps reflects the deformity of our culture. Thus, in “The End of Grief” a young man who has grown up on a ranch is marked by his father’s obsession with the death of his brother on the Bataan Death March of 1942. In some of the stories Abbott becomes both maudlin and macho and even his black humor doesn’t save his prose from sounding like a country-western lyric in which everyone is betrayed by faithless love. But in the best of these stories Abbott is clear-eyed, compassionate, funny, and lyrical.” – Library Journal

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Love is the Crooked Thing

love is the crooked thing

“Human love in a variety of quirky manifestations is the subject of these 11 short stories. Abbott, whose first collection, The Heart Never Fits Its Wanting, won the St. Lawrence Award, dazzles with verbal pyrotechnics but does not necessarily illuminate in his variations on familiar themes: love recollected by grunts in Vietnam; love of father and son; love, or what passes for it, in a Greyhound bus station. Most of the stories, set in the border state of New Mexico, are redolent of downhome insularity, peopled with extravagantly named, raffish characters whose expressive diction often fails to communicate.” – Publisher’s Weekly

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The Heart Never Fits Its Wanting: Stories

heart never fits its wanting

The debut collection by Lee K. Abbott.

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