by Hester Kaplan

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In this haunting new collection of stories from award-winning writer Hester Kaplan, the past has a way of showing up when it is least welcome. In the title story “Unravished,” a woman reconsiders her marriage to a man bent on destroying a world famous landscape. In “The School of Politics,” a bored museum director struggles to understand her


In this haunting new collection of stories from award-winning writer Hester Kaplan, the past has a way of showing up when it is least welcome. In the title story “Unravished,” a woman reconsiders her marriage to a man bent on destroying a world famous landscape. In “The School of Politics,” a bored museum director struggles to understand her youthful affair with a corrupt politician. The fastidious preservationist in “The Aerialist” makes an emergency appointment to see the dentist who gave him advice on love years before. When two prickly private school colleagues in “This Is Your Last Swim,” find they are the only people left on campus in the days before the world’s end, they urgently and uncharacteristically come clean with their old secrets and shames. Masterfully written and emotionally packed, these stories seduce and startle, and remind us of the shifting ways we choose to narrate our own lives.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In this collection of short stories, Kaplan (The Tell) masterfully constructs eight unrelated worlds while refusing to adhere to any one thematic or stylistic consistency. She creates sympathy for characters that might otherwise be judged as gold diggers, adulterers, perverts, and Lolitas. The title story is a portrait of a dying man, his much younger (but loving) wife, and the distorted ways they behave in order to distract themselves from the inevitable. In “Companion Animal,” Kaplan explores the relationship between a lonely man and his new neighbor, a beautiful teenage girl, who is all too eager to come over to his house for a visit. “The Aerialist” concerns a man’s tender love for his girlfriend’s son and the strange competition he feels with the boy’s ever-present, sloppy father. Kaplan is capable no matter the subject, whether it’s divorce or the end of the world. Each story stands on its own and will spur the reader onto the next. (June)
From the Publisher

Unravished is a bold foray into the human condition—a gorgeous, revealing meditation on class, perversity and apocalypse.”—Carolyn Cooke, author of Amor and Psycho and Daughters of the Revolution

“Hester Kaplan’s stories are lovely: smart, thoughtful, beautiful and wise, full of the small but important illuminations we need, as we make our way through our lives.”—Roxana Robinson, author of Sparta, Cost and other novels.

“These are stories for grownups, stories about those who find themselves ravaged—or maybe ravished is a better word—stories for those of us who feel ravished by time, by love, by loss, by the improvisatory nature of making-do. Hester Kaplan touches all the ache and anger we feel to life.”—William Lychack, author of The Architect of Flowers

Library Journal
Author of two novels and winner of the Flannery O'Connor Award for Short Fiction, Kaplan delivers an exceptional collection with beautifully rendered stories for and about grown-ups. The second wife of a bombastic older man fends off neighbors distraught by his building plans, which could hurt the environment (and maybe the neighborhood?); a man plays father to his girlfriend's son at the circus. VERDICT For readers, not just short story fans, who like fiction focusing smartly on contemporary adult relationships.
Kirkus Reviews
Relationships—flawed, ruptured, secret, evolving—are sifted and scrutinized in this latest collection from Kaplan (The Tell, 2013, etc.).Several of the eight stories collected here are set in the author's hometown of Providence, Rhode Island. The first story (and title tale) sets the tone with an economical portrait of the crises in Alice's 10-year marriage to a man who is "proud, boastful, know-it-all, sometimes a bully" and who is enraging their community with plans to build a waterfront home that will destroy the classic vista from a revered artist's historic homestead. Alice's compromised response is echoed in "The School of Politics," where museum director Francine reconnects with the "criminal, thug, intimidator" she once dated and who is now the mayor of her city and on trial for corruption. Kaplan's insights into the waxing and waning of marital arrangements have their quirky side. Hollis, who breaks a tooth at the start of "The Aerialist," returns to his old, none-too-gentle dentist, whose daughter, a trapeze artist, helps unlock the tension in Hollis' latest relationship. In "Companion Animal," a husband whose single instance of infidelity has exposed his hollow marriage moves into shabby new digs and begins to understand some of the relationship deals we make. Children often play a role as game-changer, like the pregnant stepdaughter in "Lovesick" who reveals the truth behind an infertile marriage. The final, longest story is a departure, following two unattuned colleagues at a deserted private school who reluctantly link up in the face of the apocalypse. This narrative also hinges on a child and secrets declared, but its departure into horror and mortality sits oddly with the more familiar domestic upheavals that have gone before.Although the insights are sometimes too explicit, Kaplan's stories confidently, capably explore the switchbacks of human interaction.

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Meet the Author

Hester Kaplan is the author of THE EDGE OF MARRIAGE (1999) which won the Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction, and two novels, KINSHIP THEORY (Little Brown), and The Tell (Harper Collins). Her stories and non-fiction have appeared in numerous literary journals and anthologies, including The Best American Short Stories series, Ploughshares, Agni Review, Southwest Review, Story, and Glimmer Train. Recent awards include the Salamander Fiction Prize, the McGinness-Ritchie Award for Non-Fiction, and a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. She is on the faculty of Lesley University’s MFA Program in Creative Writing, and lives in Providence, RI.

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