Refresh, Refresh: Stories [NOOK Book]


The war in Iraq empties the small town of Tumalo, Oregon, of men--of fathers--leaving their sons to fight among themselves. But the boys' bravado fades at home when, alone, they check e-mail again and again for word from their fathers at the front.

Often from fractured homes and communities, the young men in these breathless stories do the unthinkable to prove to themselves--to everyone--that they are strong enough to face the heartbreak in ...

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Refresh, Refresh: Stories

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The war in Iraq empties the small town of Tumalo, Oregon, of men--of fathers--leaving their sons to fight among themselves. But the boys' bravado fades at home when, alone, they check e-mail again and again for word from their fathers at the front.

Often from fractured homes and communities, the young men in these breathless stories do the unthinkable to prove to themselves--to everyone--that they are strong enough to face the heartbreak in this world. Set in rural Oregon with the shadow of the Cascade Mountains hanging over them, these stories bring you face-to-face with a mad bear, a house with a basement that opens up into a cave, a nuclear meltdown that renders the Pacific Northwest into a contemporary Wild West. Refresh, Refresh is a bold, fiery, and unforgettable collection that deals with vital issues of our time.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Percy's second collection (following last year's The Language of Elk) traces lives led in rural Oregon's fractured, mostly poor communities. The title story (selected for The Best American Short Stories 2006), presents Josh, a young man from small-town Tumalo who watches as men who signed up as Marine reservists for "beer pay" leave to fight in the Iraq War, including Josh's father. As Josh's unreliable first person details a deer hunt, the escapades of the town recruitment officer and the less-and-less frequent e-mails from his father, tension slowly builds. Set during a blackout, "The Caves in Oregon" follows geology teacher Becca and her husband, Kevin, as they explore a network of caves beneath their home, grappling to understand each other in the wake of a miscarriage. "Meltdown" imagines a nuclear disaster in November 2009, while the menacing "Whisper" opens with the accidental late-life death of Jacob, leaving his brother, Gerald, to care for Jacob's stroke-impaired wife. Percy's talent for putting surprising characters in difficult contemporary settings makes this a memorable collection. (Oct.)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
School Library Journal

Adult/High School -Stories of war, hunting, murder, and loss are all set in rural Oregon, in the shadow of the Cascade Mountains. Perhaps the most striking one, "Refresh, Refresh" is the heart-wrenching tale of a small town in which all of the fathers-coaches, teachers, barbers, UPS deliverymen, deputies, etc.-have been deployed to Iraq. The boys who are left soon become the men their fathers were, fighting, drinking, and eventually enlisting in the army. This story sets the tone for the dark, depressing existence of the mostly lower-middle-class male characters. Blood runs through many of the tales. In "The Caves in Oregon," the red soil from the nearby volcanic caves leeches its way into the house, reminding the main character of his bloody wisdom teeth extraction. In "The Killing," a Vietnam veteran murders another man and watches as "some redness joined the yellowness of his beer," and in "When the Bear Came," two mauled girls are found in a tent "that looked less like a tent and more like an organ excised by blunt scissors." While the stories are riddled with death, they are consistently and beautifully written and will no doubt appeal to older teens. Percy's visceral writing promises to remain with readers for a long time.-Jennifer Waters, Red Deer Public Library, Alberta, Canada

Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Ten stories about otherwise ordinary lives haunted by violence and death-Percy's second collection, following The Language of Elk (2006). All the stories are set in the high desert country of central Oregon; the harsh landscape defines the characters. The men are hunters and raise their sons to hunt, not always successfully. In "The Woods," Justin resents his father for the hunting lessons; years later, on a scary hunting trip involving two mysterious corpses, roles are reversed as son consoles fearful father. Josh and Gordon, high-school students in the prize-winning title story, love to hunt deer, but their fathers, National Guard reservists, have left for Iraq. In a story that pulses with violence, the local army recruiter is the bad guy. Memories of killing Iraqis surface in "Somebody is Going to Have to Pay for This" and "Meltdown"; Stephen and Darren, in almost identical circumstances, killed Iraqis at point-blank range. The puzzle is why the latter, near-future story, a study of Darren's anomie, needs the spectacular embellishment of a nuclear reactor meltdown. In two stories, "The Caves in Oregon" and "The Faulty Builder," death happens in the womb, with troubling consequences for two married couples. Less troubling for Jim, the lonely old hunter and taxidermist in "The Killing," is shooting his daughter's abusive boyfriend: "His entire adult life he has been surrounded by dead things." Another lonely old man, Gerald, has always lusted after his brother's wife ("Whisper"). It's unfortunate that this credible tale of sibling rivalry should take a sudden turn into melodrama. Blood swirls through these stories. Even a blackberry pie looks "a little like congealed blood," so it's nosurprise that Joey, the young dairy farmer in "Crash," considering suicide after his wife's accidental death, visualizes the blood pouring out of him. Percy does well by his trapped, uncomprehending men, but his endings are messy and inconclusive.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781555970154
  • Publisher: Graywolf Press
  • Publication date: 9/28/2010
  • Sold by: Macmillan
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 256
  • Sales rank: 860,167
  • File size: 2 MB

Meet the Author

Benjamin Percy

Benjamin Percy is the author of The Language of Elk and The Wilding. He has been awarded the Plimpton Prize and a Whiting Writers’ Award, and has been included in Best American Short Stories. He teaches at Iowa State University.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
( 3 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Posted February 17, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Great short stories, great writing...

    Percy's love of family & the outdoors are ever present throughout the book, each story draws you in.<BR/><BR/>Out of the ten stories in the book, five are really, really oustanding! <BR/><BR/>Refresh, Refresh <BR/>The Caves in Oregon <BR/>The Woods <BR/>Meltdown <BR/>When the Bear Came <BR/><BR/>I randomnly came across this book at B & N and took a chance on it, it paid off, highly recommended! <BR/><BR/>This is Benjamin Percy's 2nd novel of short stories, his 1st book, "The Language of Elk" is also very good!! <BR/><BR/>I've never read anything with the type of vivid descriptions that Percy uses in his stories. <BR/><BR/>He is a young, very talented writer who isnt really well known (yet) and I will definitely read his next book....

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 13, 2011

    I Also Recommend:

    Blends the best of genre and literary fiction. An excellent collection.

    Benjamin Percy is one of my favorite authors writing today. He's able to mix genre fiction with literary fiction to create captivating, eloquent stories. Loved this book. Also, check out his book, The Wilding: A Novel, which was fantastic.

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  • Posted June 4, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:


    Scrappy young men fist fight for fun in order to stop themselves from worrying about their dads deployed to Iraq in title story Refresh, Refresh, and the tension doesn't stop there. Remarkable stories, violent and beautiful, about the America of today and the place we might become. Percy is a master and it's no wonder this collection catapulted him to deserved critical fame.

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