The Quarry

Overview


At the heart of this collection of five short stories and the title novella is the powerful interconnection between parents and children, nostalgia and memory, and the collective emotional intimacies and transactions that configure human behavior.

Incisive and witty meditations on the disruptions and difficulties of family life, the stories in The Quarry focus on the precariously balanced world of anxious and awkward sons and painfully failed or failing fathers. The title ...

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Overview


At the heart of this collection of five short stories and the title novella is the powerful interconnection between parents and children, nostalgia and memory, and the collective emotional intimacies and transactions that configure human behavior.

Incisive and witty meditations on the disruptions and difficulties of family life, the stories in The Quarry focus on the precariously balanced world of anxious and awkward sons and painfully failed or failing fathers. The title novella sifts through the irreparable moral and psychological confusion brought about by the Holocaust, following two families as they struggle to reconcile themselves to personal disorder and private grief--with no illusory platitudes about the redemptive power of suffering.

With unerring compassion for conveying emotional revelations and a keen sensitivity to the frailty and malleability of the human spirit, The Quarry lures the reader into confronting the most hidden and disquieting parts of the buried self.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"The five stories and one novella in Grossinger's debut fiction collection center on Jewish-Americans who are haunted by persecutions imagined and real, including the Holocaust. Grossinger displays a strong command of dramatics and a plaintive writing style suitable for taking on the most emotional of topics." -Publishers Weekly

"While focusing on failed fathers and the disruptions of family life, this well-written collection nevertheless hails the human spirit." -Library Journal

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The five stories and one novella in Grossinger's debut fiction collection, which has won the Flannery O'Connor Award for Short Fiction, center on Jewish-Americans who are haunted by persecutions imagined and real, including the Holocaust. It isn't the absent victims or direct survivors of the Holocaust who are Grossinger's focus, but their children and grandchildren. In "Dinosaurs," a paleontologist discovers that his recently deceased grandfather's estate is immodestly large due to his racketeering. The young protagonist of "Hearts & Minds" finds himself falling in love with an older woman even as he comes to understand that his separated parents are willing to play only modest roles in his life. The eponymous novellathe most powerful tale hereis told from alternating points-of-view by a father and his son. It traces their lives through a series of calamities: the death of the boy's mother; the estrangement of his sister; the pair's emotional adoption of a couple of refugees permanently haunted by their experiences in the concentration camps the father helped to liberate. Grossinger displays a strong command of dramatics and a plaintive writing style suitable for taking on the most emotional of topics. The structure of his stories appears scattered at times, but that seems almost a proper response to a world in which tragedy can be so overwhelming that its survivors come to believe, as one says here, "that there is no fitting end for people like us." (May)
Library Journal
Grossinger's Flannery O'Conner award- winning collection of five stories and one short novella focuses on Jewish families, father-and-son relationships, and the vicissitudes of life. "Dinosaurs" is a three-generational story featuring the curmudgeonly Grampa Zolly, reminiscent of the grandfather in Max Apple's Roommates (LJ 6/15/94). Grampa Zolly teaches his grandson Lenny the wonders of dinosaurs but is disappointed when Lenny decides to become a paleontologist; he would have preferred his grandson to join the family business. The son in "Hearts and Minds" begins his narration by observing, "When I was nineteen my father went out for a pack of smokes and never came back." He tries desperately to make sense of his 1960s drug-cult parents and finally realizes that he cannot. In the title novella, two families struggle to deal with the grief of the Holocaust and how it affected their lives. While focusing on failed fathers and the disruptions of family life, this well-written collection nevertheless hails the human spirit. Recommended for all fiction collections.-Molly Abramowitz, Silver Spring, Md.
Kirkus Reviews
A novella and four stories that earned newcomer Grossinger the 15th annual Flannery O'Connor Award for short fiction.

While not of the "Cancer in Connecticut" school of new fiction, Grossinger's besieged characters succumb with enough regularity to form their own subgenre—the "Bright's Disease in the Bronx" school, perhaps—and to keep the proceedings mostly funereal throughout. In "Dinosaurs," a midwestern academic reminisces about his grandfather Zolly, who has just passed on. "Leisure World" is a portrait of the spites and affections of elderly retirees living out their last days in Florida, whereas "Hearts and Minds" describes the disintegration of a Vietnam vet from the perspective of his teenaged son. "Home Burial" focuses on madness rather than death, offering a boy's account of his POW father who nearly died in Korea and has never really recovered. Like most of the book, "Home Burial" is marred by Grossinger's unwillingness to let the plot speak for itself, especially in its more melancholy moments—"He held me in his sad gaze for more than a minute, and the feel of his dog tags against my face and chest when I hugged him has remained with me for all these years"—and its sentimentality becomes cloying very quickly. The most ambitious work in the collection, the title novella, is more nuanced. It describes a Jewish boy's changing sense of identity and history as a result of his contact with a family of Holocaust survivors who move into his hometown in the late 1940s. Relying on the perspective of the survivors themselves, as well as on the narrator who observes them, the story has a depth and subtlety that the others lack.

Painfully sincere: Grossinger gives the game away time and again by showing his hand—which isn't bad—too soon.

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Product Details

Meet the Author


Harvey Grossinger lectures on literature at American University and in the honors program at the University of Maryland. His short stories have been published in the Chicago Tribune, New England Review, Western Humanities Review, Mid-American Review, Ascent, and Antietam Review.
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Table of Contents

Dinosaurs 1
Hearts & Minds 31
Home Burial 69
Leisure World 91
Promised Land 119
The Quarry 153
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