Officer Friendly and Other Stories

Overview

The stories in this acclaimed debut all take place in the state of Maine—which quickly comes to stand for the state we’re all in when we face the moments that change our lives forever. Two roughneck hockey players are kicked off the team and forced to join the drama club. A young bartender at a party of coastal aristocrats has to deal with the surreal request to put a rich old coot out of his misery. Can a father defend his family if the diver helping to free the tangled ...
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Officer Friendly and Other Stories

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Overview

The stories in this acclaimed debut all take place in the state of Maine—which quickly comes to stand for the state we’re all in when we face the moments that change our lives forever. Two roughneck hockey players are kicked off the team and forced to join the drama club. A young bartender at a party of coastal aristocrats has to deal with the surreal request to put a rich old coot out of his misery. Can a father defend his family if the diver helping to free the tangled propeller of their boat turns out to be a real threat?

With humor, a piercing eye, and a sense that danger often lies just around the corner, Robinson gives us a variety of vivid characters, wealthy and poor, delinquent and romantic, while illuminating the mythic, universal implications of so-called ordinary life. These stories are at once classic and modern; taken together, they bring the good news that an important, compassionate new voice in American fiction has arrived.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Robinson has that rare power . . . to make a setting breathe, to invest it with a vitality that seems as authentic and intense as the pulse beats of his characters.”
The New York Times Book Review

“Eleven letter-perfect stories with the keen understanding of human nature readers expect to find in works by veterans like Alice Munro.”
San Francisco Chronicle

“[A] faultless debut collection. Combining vivid characters with a pulsing narrative drive, these pieces are tight like Carver’s work is tight. . . . Robinson is tremendously adept at building menace slowly, quietly, and the shocks as these stories unfold is one of their greatest pleasures.”
Esquire

“If good writing is like a good suit—durable, seamless and decidedly non-flashy—then . . . Lewis Robinson [is a] master tailor. . . . skilled at observing what makes people tick and what makes them trip. . . . Amusing and satisfying.”
The Washington Post

“Tight, barbed, menacing, yet also humorous . . . Men in Mr. Robinson’s fiction have a way of assessing their prospects with . . . unflinching clarity. . . . All of Mr. Robinson’s piquant characters are tested and transformed by [Point] Allison in some way. Collectively, they put the place—and the author—on the map.”
New York Times

“So rich with strange characters and twists and turns of plot that it doesn’t feel like a short-story collection at all: it feels like a film festival. . . . You wouldn’t want to live in Point Allison, but Robinson makes it hard to leave.”
Newsweek

“[Officer Friendly] has the lustrous finish and satisfying heft of classic craftsmanship. . . . Fully formed, totally irresistible, and refreshingly retrograde . . . [The characters’] predicaments have the unfailing power to elicit surprise, recognition and wonder. . . . Robinson has an eye for the complex misunderstandings that bind people—best friends, lovers, kids and their parents. It’s knotty, no-nonsense stuff, but Robinson works it into heirlooms.”
Los Angeles Times

“The prose in Robinson’s debut collection . . . is polished to a clean, uncluttered purity. . . . Not so much stark as unpretentious and honest, these sentences seem to bore their way into the very heart of things.”
Chicago Tribune

“Worth reading for the worlds of detail that Robinson tucks into his sentences . . . Robinson at his finest in this book [is] weird, thrilling, fascinating.”
The Miami Herald

“Lewis Robinson feels the pulse of Maine’s conflicted heart. With unerring lucidity, his fiction captures the uneasy truce between its natives and summer people, the haves and the have-nots, those restless for more and those longing for less.”
Bangor Daily News

“Robinson writes stories that feel like miniature novels, mostly because they make you desperate to know what will happen in the end. . . . A great debut.”
The Arizona Republic

“These are wonderful stories. With an impeccable sense of timing and razor-sharp depictions of character, Lewis Robinson takes the reader through incidents that are too intriguing to resist: funny, unexpected, and always oddly poignant, this storyteller has a voice that pulls you right in.”
—Elizabeth Strout

“This guy has explosive talent. ‘Puckheads’ is one of the best coming-of-age stories you’ll ever read. But then how does he know what a pregnant med student feels holding her own belly, cutting into a live pig, or how an old lady, slightly askew, ladling soup, saturates you with affection? He zaps you every half sentence, and soon you can almost remember how it was back in med school, but it’s just Lewis Robinson fiddling with your brain. He’s got everything under control.”
—Matthew Klam

“Robinson establishes himself as a writer with a seductive, edgy voice in this dark debut collection. . . . Keeping a judicious distance from his characters, Robinson allows ingenious plotting and scene-setting to drive these coolly absorbing stories.”
Publishers Weekly

“Quirky . . . Crisp . . . Immediately hook[s] readers with vivid and sometimes oddball characters . . . What makes these stories so compelling is that nothing is as it seems. . . . Plots often take shocking twists, and humor arises in frankly unfunny situations.”
Library Journal

“In crisp, concise prose, Robinson probes unusual aspects of the human condition in this debut collection of stories with an edge that snags the reader’s memory.”
Booklist

Janet Maslin
We tried very hard to be proud of our school," remarks one of Mr. Robinson's narrators, even though Point Allison is a place where a moose winds up being executed in the middle of a soccer game.

As it establishes the geographical and socioeconomic landscapes of Port Allison (where privileged interlopers and hardscrabble year-round residents make an uneasy mix) Officer Friendly defines its psychic turf as well. This is a place where people come to change, to reflect, to test their mettle. Very often, in Mr. Robinson's tight, barbed, menacing, yet also humorous tales, they do all three.
New York Times

Publishers Weekly
Robinson establishes himself as a writer with a seductive, edgy voice in this dark debut collection of 11 stories set in and around the seaside town of Point Allison, Maine. Menacing authority figures play important roles in the early tales: in the title story, a pair of local miscreants inadvertently turn the tables on a heavy-handed cop when they goad him into a chase and the officer has a heart attack. "Diver" presents the plight of a picture-perfect young couple who are tormented by a teasingly malevolent local store owner who, as a diver, comes to their rescue when a rope is tangled in the propeller of their small yacht. The sense of menace and imminent danger ebbs in subsequent efforts, but Robinson adds a nice comic touch and some emotional depth in "Puckheads," a coming-of-age yarn about a pair of rowdy high school hockey players who develop an attraction for the same actress when they join the drama club for a production of Oliver Twist. There is more weird, off-kilter plotting in "Ride," which describes a father's attempt to celebrate his adolescent son's birthday by pulling off a jewelry heist with the boy in tow. Robinson goes to great lengths to establish his setting as a virtual character, although he never explains why Point Allison is so much more sinister than the neighboring towns on the Maine coast. The heavy, brooding atmosphere is another distinctive narrative element, although its effect begins to wear thin over the course of the collection. Keeping a judicious distance from his characters, Robinson allows ingenious plotting and scene-setting to drive these coolly absorbing stories. (Jan. 10) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
School Library Journal
Adult/High School-Teens will be drawn to the often quirky situations presented in this crisp short-story collection. The selections are quick reads, most under 20 pages, and they immediately hook readers with vivid and sometimes oddball characters. The fictional seaside town of Point Allison, ME, is the backdrop. In the title story, two teens running from a police officer must decide whether to stop and help him after he falls in the snow with an apparent heart attack. In "The Diver," a young husband on a boat with his wife worries about the menacing diver who won't leave them alone after helping them untangle a rope from their propeller. One of the most compelling stories is "Puckheads," a tale of two high school hockey players who have been kicked off the team for fighting. Now coerced into joining the Drama Club, they are performing in the school's production of Oliver and competing for the attention of the arrogant leading lady. What makes these stories so compelling is that nothing is as it seems. There are neither happy endings nor satisfying conclusions, plots often take shocking twists, and humor arises in frankly unfunny situations. Many of the characters are teens who are uncomfortable in their place in the world, and who are becoming aware that "life is a series of terrifying events, of grave and immediate result."-Ellen Bottiny, Fairfax County Public Library, VA Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780812972276
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 5/11/2004
  • Pages: 248
  • Sales rank: 822,033
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Lewis Robinson was born in Natick, Massachusetts, and grew up in Maine. He attended Middlebury College and the Iowa Writers' Workshop, where he was a teaching-writing fellow and winner of the Glenn Schaeffer Award. He has written for Sports Illustrated and the Boston Globe, and has had day jobs ranging from fire warden to crab slaughterer. He lives in Portland, Maine.

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Table of Contents

The Diver 1
Officer Friendly 23
The Edge of the Forest and the Edge of the Ocean 33
The Toast 59
Ride 77
Cuxabexis, Cuxabexis 99
Fighting at Night 119
Eiders 133
Seeing the World 147
Puckheads 169
Finches 211
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