Tell Borges If You See Him: Tales of Contemporary Somnambulism

Overview


To be untethered in the waking world, to have the feeling that perhaps we are sleepwalking--that’s what life can be like for the people in these eleven stories by Peter LaSalle, known to readers of leading literary magazines for his luminous prose style and narrative daring.

The characters range from a fragile, and very rich, Mount Holyoke College girl in Paris to an out-of-work American businessman caught up in an international financial scam in Buenos Aires; from a ...

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Overview


To be untethered in the waking world, to have the feeling that perhaps we are sleepwalking--that’s what life can be like for the people in these eleven stories by Peter LaSalle, known to readers of leading literary magazines for his luminous prose style and narrative daring.

The characters range from a fragile, and very rich, Mount Holyoke College girl in Paris to an out-of-work American businessman caught up in an international financial scam in Buenos Aires; from a happy-go-lucky old piano-lounge performer, once famous in all the New England seaside resorts, to a quartet of passengers on a bus barreling across the Mexican desert on Christmas Eve--and heading right toward a nightmarish encounter indeed on the road. In one story, a troubled guy who is somehow both himself on a hockey scholarship at Harvard in the sixties and himself a few decades later, meets his beautiful lost girlfriend at a long-gone Cambridge cafeteria. The busboys become hovering angels. Time slips backward and forward. Things that happened may not have happened.

While rich with specific detail of character and place, these stories also tap into the stranger kind of clarity that does come, paradoxically, from subtle disorientation, as found in innovators like Nabokov and Borges. LaSalle’s lovely, rhythmic sentences, in which an aside can sometimes be the central concern, create a captivating permeability in the boundary between real and unreal while always enchanting with their power simply to tell a moving story. This is very original short fiction that aspires to nothing less than reasserting the wonderful possibilities of the genre--or, as the narrator of the story “The End of Narrative” ultimately suggests: “Maybe narrative hadn’t ended, which is to say, hasn’t ended.”

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Peter LaSalle has worked his way deep into the storytelling place. Serious, anomalous, his narratives are set into motion by the obsessions and perturbations of living. There is no model, no recipe—each world is uniquely known and irresistibly defined. Tell Borges If You See Him is a keeper collection."--Sven Birkerts, author of Reading Life: Books for the Ages

"Peter LaSalle may not be a literary household name, but if you read his latest collection of short stories, Tell Borges If You See Him, you might just wonder why not . . . LaSalle is a major talent . . . his stories are thought provoking and extremely satisfying."--Providence Sunday Journal

"Incandescent short stories."--Yankee Magazine on Hockey Sur Glace (A New York Times Book Review “New & Noteworthy Paperback")

"LaSalle's stories are full of detail, and he knows how to create a sense of place, be it Buenos Aires, Austin, Texas, Paris, or Boston. He also possesses a gift for description.”--Atlanta Journal-Constitution

"These are richly textured stories which invent their own forms."--Missouri Review on The Graves of Famous Writers

"LaSalle’s command of the language is admirable, but even more admirable is his moral vision."--Dallas Times-Herald on Strange Sunlight

"Peter LaSalle writes about time that collides or implodes. Such collisions are never simply artful; rather, operating from inside his characters while still maintaining a sharp-eyed distance (even with first-person narratives), he dramatizes their complex dislocations—temporal, spatial, and emotional. LaSalle's characters move about in a state that straddles waking and sleeping, but the emotions they experience are real and run deep. . . . This writer owes a huge debt to Borges, certainly, but there's nothing tired or derivative about the imaginative world he has crafted. Regardless of his stories' settings-from Boston to Paris-there's an all-American brashness and brio."--The Georgia Review

The Georgia Review
Peter LaSalle writes about time that collides or implodes. Such collisions are never simply artful; rather, operating from inside his characters while still maintaining a sharp-eyed distance (even with first-person narratives), he dramatizes their complex dislocations--temporal, spatial, and emotional. LaSalle's characters move about in a state that straddles waking and sleeping, but the emotions they experience are real and run deep.... This writer owes a huge debt to Borges, certainly, but there's nothing tired or derivative about the imaginative world he has crafted. Regardless of his stories' settings--from Boston to Paris--there's an all-American brashness and brio.
—Kathleen Snodgrass
Library Journal

LaSalle (creative writing, Univ. of Texas at Austin) adds another accolade to his career with this winner of the 2006 Flannery O'Connor Award for Short Fiction. The 11 stories he here collects combine humor with beautiful imagery-e.g., "We stood like two members of some distinct leaf-munching separate species above the sea of heads bobbing . . . "; "The lenses magnified the eyes even larger, so she looked somewhat like a Martian-in a pretty way." Each story's structure is distinct: in one, sentences are interrupted by change-in-time markers, while in another, single sentences meander and twist for a page or longer. Both these examples indicate some of the questions prevalent in the collection; specifically, those pertaining to time-what it is and what happen when it bends. LaSalle has written two other short story collections and one novel, and he regularly contributes short stories, essays, and book reviews to various magazines, newspapers, and anthologies. An enjoyable read; recommended.
—Kristin Thiel

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Product Details

Meet the Author


Peter LaSalle is the author of two previous short story collections and a novel. His fiction has appeared in many magazines and anthologies, including Paris Review, Tin House, Southern Review, Best American Short Stories, Best of the West, Sports Best Short Stories, and Prize Stories: The O. Henry Awards. He has taught at universities in this country and in France and, in 2005, received the Award for Distinguished Prose from the Antioch Review.
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Table of Contents


Where We Last Saw Time 1
The Actor's Face 25
The Cities He Would Never Be Sure Of 49
French Sleeping Pills 57
Tell Borges If You See Him 89
The Christmas Bus 114
The Space Inside Sleep 134
Brillian Billy Dubbs on the Ocean Floor 163
Nocturne 173
Preseason: The Texas Football Dead 204
The End of Narrative (1-29; or 29-1) 225
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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 1, 2007

    Peter LaSalle Is Back... And There Was Much Rejoicing

    Melancholy stories. Beautifully written. Dreamlike. Grounded in real life. No fooling around. LaSalle is one of the best writers of short stories.

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