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Maggie Brown & Others

Maggie Brown & Others


In this powerful and virtuosic collection of interlocking stories, a National Book Critics Circle Award finalist takes the form to new heights.

In his orchestral and moving new book, Peter Orner, a writer who “doesn’t simply bring his characters to life, he gives them souls” (New York Times Book Review), chronicles people whose lives are at inflection points. In forty-four compressed gems, he grips us with a series of defining moments. Whether it’s a first date that turns into a late-night road trip to a séance in an abandoned airplane hangar, or a family’s memories of the painful mystery surrounding a forgotten uncle’s demise, Orner reveals how our fleeting decisions between kindness and abandonment chase us across time. These stories are anchored by a poignant novella that delivers not only the joys and travails of a forty-year marriage, but an entire era in a working-class New England city. Bristling with the crackling energy of life itself, Maggie Brown & Others marks the most sustained achievement to date for “a master of his form” (New York Times).

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Genre: Fiction / Fiction / Short Stories (single Author)

On Sale: July 2nd 2019

Price: $27 / $35 (CAD)

Page Count: 336

ISBN-13: 9780316516112

What's Inside

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Reader Reviews


Orner is a master of the aphoristic short story. The forty-four concise and stinging tales in Maggie Brown & Others express a full spectrum of caustic observations, nuanced emotions, and life-warping predicaments . . . Orner writes with a heady blend of gravitas and wit similar to that of such kindred short-story virtuosos as Deborah Eisenberg, Andre Dubus, and Gina Berriault, while expressing his own edgy empathy and embrace of everyday absurdity."
Donna Seaman, Booklist (starred review)
"Orner has a sharp eye for absurdity and a discerning ear for dialogue...Insightful, rueful, and often humorous, this collection holds a mirror to contemporary life and gives the reader much to reflect on."—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
"This collection's forty-four powerful tales express Orner's talent for crafting captivating character sketches that read like memoirs...Readers will sympathize with Orner's characters and identify with their all-too-human frailties."—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"The stories in Peter Orner's Maggie Brown & Others feel eternally human, less like they've been written and rather like they've been drawn by patient hands from an ancient aquifer of memory, longing, and soulful knowing."—Adam Johnson, author of Pulitzer Prize winner The Orphan Master's Son and National Book Award winner Fortune Smiles
"It's unusual for a writer of such great detail and originality to still have so much heart on his sleeve. I didn't realize how I'd missed actual feeling in our celebrated younger writers until I fell onto Peter Orner and these sublime new stories. I may not go back."—Thomas McGuane, author of Gallatin Canyon
"Peter Orner is an extraordinary writer, and Maggie Brown & Others was a deep pleasure to read. His stories teem with life and energy, and unfold with a kind of soulful grace he has made all his own."—Adam Haslett, two-time Pulitzer Prize finalist and author of Imagine Me Gone
"No one captures the inner lives of vanished places and people like Peter Orner. Radiant, funny, full of wisdom and heart, his vibrant portraits pulse with authentic energy and are as perfectly tuned to his characters' idiosyncratic speech as those of Grace Paley."—Andrea Barrett, National Book Award-winning author of Ship Fever and The Air We Breathe
"To read Peter Orner's stories is to live simultaneously in so many lives: the reader's memories intertwine with the characters', the characters' dreams resurface in the reader's. People we have loved and lost, people we have encountered and missed -- they wait for us to rediscover them in Orner's stories. This book, exquisitely written, is as necessary and expansive as life."—Yiyun Li, author of Where Reasons End and A Thousand Years of Good Prayers
Praise for Peter Orner:
"Orner's canny snippets build with subtle accumulative power to create books autobiographical in feel, if not necessarily in fact . . . In each of his books, Orner's crystalline sentences and his ability to pay close and sustained attention to small moments transform the ordinary elements of each story into an even more astonishing whole . . . He can nail interior monologue in a way that recalls Grace Paley . . . His truest gift is the ability to take elements we've seen before-the historical characters, the suburbs, the tight-knit Jewish families, Chicago-and, by the force of his fascination, make them thrillingly strange. This talent never fails Orner . . . Every story in Last Car Over the Sagamore Bridge is excellent, incisive, and moving."—Lauren Groff, New York Times Book Review
"Quirky, lyrical, comical, full-blown. . .A gifted short story writer gives us his first book-length work of fiction with The Second Coming of Mavala Shikongo, and does so with flair and panache."—Alan Cheuse, Chicago Tribune
"Orner is still intent on revealing the quiet terror and melancholy of everyday life in America. . .He is one of our most empathetic writers today. . .His fiction has an intimate feel: we are in conversation with otherwise unknown and forgotten lives. This is what makes Orner's characters live and breathe beyond the page...This is how his clean, simple sentences succeed far beyond the limited space he gives them. . .Let us be thankful for Peter Orner."—Nicholas Miriello, Los Angeles Review of Books
"The stories in Last Car Over the Sagamore Bridge have sweated away the fat of plotting and scene setting without weakening the vital organs of emotional resonance...Mr. Orner packs remarkable pathos into his condensed dramas."—Sam Sacks, Wall Street Journal
"Last Car Over the Sagamore Bridge is a magnificent and moving mosaic of remarkable narratives. . . Orner's poetic attention to language and ability to compress, to linger astutely and affectingly in the essential moment rather than become overly and unnecessarily consumed by the 'what next?' questions and concerns of plotting, are perhaps the greatest strengths of his writing. . .The lengths of his stories seem irrelevant (and, for that matter, perfect) when one considers the power and weight of these essential glimpses."—Skip Horack, San Francisco Chronicle
"Radiant...There's a curiosity in Orner's work, the need to seek out stories and lives well beyond his own sphere, and there's a necessary humility as he does this seeking."—Peter Mountford, Tin House
"You wouldn't think someone could haunt you with a life that spans just a few lines, but Peter Orner can. He can tell you an entire ghost story, and you won't stop believing it until the next welcome specter chases it away."—Mia Lipman, San Francisco Journal of Books
"The Second Coming of Mavala Shikongo is a book unlike any I have ever read, a miraculous feat of empathy that manages to unearth the infinite possibilities of the human heart. . .Orner is incapable of dishonoring his characters. He treats all of them -- even the minor figures -- with a fierce humanity."—Steve Almond, Boston Globe
"There's a startling intimacy in every story. . .Orner's range of subjects and characters is as impressive as the depths of his sympathies. . .Peter Orner is that rare find: a young writer who can inhabit any character, traverse any landscape, and yet never stray from the sound of the human heart."—Judy Doenges, Washington Post Book World
"Required reading. . .A book of enviable brilliance. . .Orner has a poet's generous soul and he somehow frees us from our skins, from our genders, our wars, our hunger. . .Heady, exultant stuff."—Alexandra Fuller, Salon
"Transcendent...The sweeping power of storytelling lies at the heart of The Second Coming of Mavala Shikongo, an insightful and revelatory novel told with authority, historical practicality, and a palpable sense of wonder."—Connie Ogle, Miami Herald
"It's a testament to Orner's empathy as a writer that such varied narratives ring so true."—Thomas Gebremedhin,
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