The Miniature Wife: And Other Stories [NOOK Book]


In the tradition of George Saunders and Aimee Bender, an exuberantly imagined debut that chronicles an ordinary world marked by unusual phenomena.

The eighteen stories of Manuel Gonzales’s exhilarating first book render the fantastic commonplace and the ordinary extraordinary, in prose that thrums with energy and shimmers with beauty. In “The Artist’s Voice” we meet one of the world’s foremost composers, a man who speaks through his ears. A ...
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The Miniature Wife: And Other Stories

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In the tradition of George Saunders and Aimee Bender, an exuberantly imagined debut that chronicles an ordinary world marked by unusual phenomena.

The eighteen stories of Manuel Gonzales’s exhilarating first book render the fantastic commonplace and the ordinary extraordinary, in prose that thrums with energy and shimmers with beauty. In “The Artist’s Voice” we meet one of the world’s foremost composers, a man who speaks through his ears. A hijacked plane circles a city for twenty years in “Pilot, Copilot, Writer.” Sound can kill in “The Sounds of Early Morning.” And, in the title story, a man is at war with the wife he accidentally shrank. For these characters, the phenomenal isn’t necessarily special—but it’s often dangerous.

In slightly fantastical settings, Gonzales illustrates very real guilt over small and large marital missteps, the intense desire for the reinvention of self, and the powerful urges we feel to defend and provide for the people we love. With wit and insight, these stories subvert our expectations and challenge us to look at our surroundings with fresh eyes. Brilliantly conceived, strikingly original, and told with the narrative instinct of a born storyteller, The Miniature Wife is an unforgettable debut.

Winner of the 2014 American Academy of Arts and Letters Sue Kaufman Prize for First Fiction

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Editorial Reviews

The Washington Post - Michael Lindgren
The relentless tone of cockeyed reasonableness in the face of such improbable catastrophes—wives shrunk to one-20th of their normal size or atmospheres where sound waves are deadly—creates cognitive dissonance that's hilarious and chilling…Gonzales shares [George] Saunders's hopscotching inventiveness, but his view is even darker and more savage. The result is a superior collection of writing and a signpost of an emerging talent with a strong and distinctive voice.
The New York Times Book Review - Aimee Bender
Because his prose is never sloppy and his rhythm is impeccable, Gonzales's sentences unfold with an unusual smoothness. But the writing becomes more tangible, and more memorable, when the careful style contrasts with a situation's ragged danger and strangeness. The curdling underbelly then becomes an opposing force to the language, the riverlike flow that for all its grace threatens to lull a reader until, in the best stories, it is punctured and rattled by event and consequence…these stories showcase an exciting new voice. Gonzales's concerns are as real as can be, but his comfort in different lexicons, and weirdnesses, all as ways to shape very human dilemmas, is strong.
Publishers Weekly
It’s rare that a debut author is also a seasoned storyteller, but this is the case with Gonzales, whose first book is a deeply imaginative collection of short stories. With commendable skill, Gonzales seamlessly blends the real and the fantastic, resulting in a fun and provocative collection that readers will want to devour. A child born at 10,000 feet on a hijacked plane retraces the same route around Dallas for “according to our best estimates, around twenty years,” destined to follow this path forever, in “Pilot, Copilot, Writer”; and a man who works as a miniaturizer mistakenly shrinks his wife into a pint-sized but plucky foe in the title story. Gonzales delights and bends the mind with stories featuring a horror movie cast—zombies, in “Escape from the Mall”; the swamp monsters and robots of “Life on Capra II”; and a werewolf on a mission to eradicate any trace of his prior humanity, in “WOLF!” The mixture of the mundane and the surreal is hardly new, but Gonzales carries it off with a fresh voice. A quiet pathos spans the collection, and a well-timed glibness injects these stories with an undercurrent of dark humor. A surprising, delightful, and slyly didactic debut. Agent: PJ Mark, Janklow & Nesbit. (Jan.)
Entertainment Weekly imaginative debut...(A-)
Marie Claire Magazine
Gonzales' voice is so new and different and dazzling that you won't be able to put down his book.
The Los Angeles Times
Manuel Gonzales has an imagination that's as expansive and open as a Texas prairie.
The Dallas Morning News
...a funny and clever debut... Manuel Gonzales is his own weird, imaginative, witty self. Any story by him is going to take the reader on a ride through a new world that is eerily like our own, yet full of the unexpected.
The Austin American Statesman's a fun grab bag of magical realism worth reading just for the author's deft prose and sleight of hand. It's indeed a rollicking genre-infused thrill ride, but there's much more lurking here for the discerning reader to chew on (zombie pun intended).
Austin Chronicle
Gonzales has...a truly unique voice.
Texas Monthly
Gonzales has a talent for taking a seemingly silly idea and subjecting it to a dead pan and unsparing sensibility.
...this inventive collection marries the fantastic with the utterly non-fantastic.
Kirkus Reviews
Imaginative stories elevated by creative renderings of tropes from genre fiction. Debut author Gonzales, executive director of The Austin Bat Cave, a nonprofit writing and tutoring center, offers up a collection of 18 sparely constructed stories, rife with ingenuity and beholden to few rules. The opening story, "Pilot, Copilot, Writer," finds a journalist attempting to make sense of the fact that his hijacked plane has been circling the Dallas skyline for two decades. The title story is about a scientist who, after shrinking his wife to nearly microscopic size, finds himself at war with her. This leads to laugh-out-loud lines like this one, about his wife's paramour: "So what else could I do but cover him in honey and seed and then feed him to the bird?" "One-Horned & Wild-Eyed" explores the rivalry that explodes between two friends--over the unicorn they're keeping in a backyard shed. Still other stories infuse real emotion into nightmarish scenarios. "Life on Capra II" depicts a futuristic solider who pines for his lost love, even as he blasts away at swamp monsters and killer robots. In "All of Me," we meet the zombie lurking inside an office drone, who wishes for nothing more than a date with a married co-worker and to devour the obnoxious guy down the hall. Others, such as "Wolf!" and "Escape from the Mall," are more traditional takes on the monsters of our nightmares. But then Gonzales nails the reader with a roundhouse kick like "Farewell, Africa," about a famous speech delivered in concert with the actual sinking of continents. The author also peppers his collection with five sinister obituaries that are quite fun, if superfluous to this inspired string of off-key hits. Delightfully eerie tales from the dark side.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781101602041
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
  • Publication date: 1/10/2013
  • Sold by: Penguin Group
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 320
  • Sales rank: 715,509
  • File size: 513 KB

Meet the Author

Manuel Gonzales is a graduate of the Columbia University graduate creative writing program. He has published fiction and nonfiction in Open City, Fence, One Story, Esquire, McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern, and The Believer. He lives in Austin, Texas, with his wife and two children.
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