Unsettling

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Overview

A stunning, Poe-esque collection of short fiction about outsiders, lost dogs, romance, and life’s surprising mysteries.

Populated by strangers, ghosts, and other shadowy figures, the thirteen stories in The Unsettling attend to those startling moments when what we have understood as familiar is suddenly revealed as mysterious and foreign.

A lonely man saving library books from an outbreak of mold listens to a coworker’s tale about a blind woman...

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SIGNED in person, a fine, new book and dustjacket. This is the author's first collection of short stories in which ghosts, strangers and other unsubstantial figures wander, such ... as the selection where a lady drives a gold Firebird through the desert while a TV sitting on the passenger seat shows "The Rockford Files" reruns, a girl comes back to her childhood home and spies on those who currently live there---not knowing that they know they are being watched, and other absorbing, entertaining stories. A unique and entertaining collection. Read more Show Less

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Overview

A stunning, Poe-esque collection of short fiction about outsiders, lost dogs, romance, and life’s surprising mysteries.

Populated by strangers, ghosts, and other shadowy figures, the thirteen stories in The Unsettling attend to those startling moments when what we have understood as familiar is suddenly revealed as mysterious and foreign.

A lonely man saving library books from an outbreak of mold listens to a coworker’s tale about a blind woman and imbues it with his own sense of romance; a woman drives a Gold Firebird through the desert with a television playing “Rockford Files” reruns on the passenger seat; and a girl returns to her childhood home to spy on its new inhabitants, not realizing they are aware of her surveillance.

Told through Rock’s imaginative and wholly original voice, these are haunted tales about fascination, transformation, and the relationship between the two.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Novelist Rock (The Ambidextrist) gathers 13 odd, haunting tales in a patchwork collection that borrows elements from genre fiction (the ghost; the stalker; the hitchhiker) while paying homage to literary lights (to Chekhov explicitly; to Poe and, one suspects, Murukami). In Rock's bleak world, the isolated and maladjusted seek connections: in "Blooms," a young man hired to remove mold from damp library books learns how his elder coworker used to sit naked in his blind neighbor's bedroom and read to her; in "The Silent Men," a waitress receives late-night phone calls from a stranger who got her number from her "Lost Dogs" poster; in "The Sharpest Knife," a middle-aged man sneaks into the bedroom of his eight-year-old neighbor to write cryptic messages in her school notebook. "Lights" is a rather bloodless rewrite of the Chekhov story of the same name, in which a loquacious older man tells a bored youth and a stranger the story of his entanglement with a desperate woman; "Thrill" tells of a young married couple's surprising response to a youthful, female peeping Tom. Mysterious, inventive, but often pallid and unrewarding, these stories are strange-but perhaps not quite strange enough. (Mar.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Published in the past decade, Rock's four novels-This Is the Place, Carnival Wolves, The Ambidextrist, and The Bewildered-have received mixed reviews. But this is his first collection of short stories, and they improve upon the promise of his earlier work. Each of these 13 stories delivers an unsettling tension between the narrator and a storyteller character, who is a misfit, outsider, or intruder. The mostly nighttime, often claustrophobic settings seem to heighten the sensual registers of sight, sound, smell, and taste. Lured in by Carveresque plain style expository prose, we become voyeurs into the fissures of some of America's familiar yet strange workplaces where loneliness and alienation dominate. Although these are not explicitly suspense or ghost stories, their "what happens next?" effect is to haunt, chill, and sometimes harrow. Overall, the collection recalls Freud's definition of the uncanny as "the class of frightening things that leads us back to what is known and familiar." Recommended for literary fiction collections.-Mark Andre Singer, Mechanics' Inst. Lib., San Francisco Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Curiously dry, unsympathetic short stories by Utah novelist Rock (The Bewildered, 2005, etc.). Nameless, untamed landscapes form the backdrop for most of these 13 tales featuring random collisions between regular people. "Do I know you?" is a perennial refrain here. "Disappeared Girls" depicts a chance meeting on a train between 15-year-old Miranda, headed for a visit to her grandmother in New Jersey, and 31-year-old Edward, sporting braces and a see-through backpack, who is traveling back to his childhood neighborhood. "Are you trying to have sex with me?" Miranda boldly asks Edward, but the poor guy turns out to be a harmless naif, an artist more engaged with his dreams than with the girl. Meanwhile, the strangely disembodied tale "Disentangling" shows Dr. Ralston Bender, a Philadelphia medical examiner steeped in the works of Edgar Allan Poe, conducting a series of quasi-sexual experiments involving strangers in a hotel room. The experiments bring together a motley group, including a feral street boy, a sad legal secretary and a sympathetic black man named Sylvester, all gathered to fulfill Bender's creepy aim of "spreading hope." In "Gold Firebird," the aged owner of a highway gas station finds the visit of a sad young wife in a fabulous old car so resonant of his own emotional history-she is fleeing an unfaithful husband-that he doesn't mind when she can't pay for the gas and steals his stuff. Rock seems to take perverse delight in bringing his characters close to the louche and seedy. A solid representation of this writer's mature work, notable for its detached intensity, but his stories' brevity and randomness will leave many dissatisfied.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781596921719
  • Publisher: MacAdam/Cage Publishing, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 3/28/2006
  • Pages: 200
  • Product dimensions: 5.41 (w) x 8.21 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Peter Rock grew up in Salt Lake City, Utah. He is the author of the novels The Bewildered, The Ambidextrist, Carnival Wolves, and This Is the Place. A former Wallace Stegner Fellow and recipient of a 2000 NEA Fellowship, he now lives in Portland, Oregon, and teaches at Reed College.
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Table of Contents

Blooms 3
Stranger 23
Shaken 47
The sharpest knife 59
Thrill 83
Gold firebird 89
Lights 111
Signal mirror 145
The silent men 159
Halo effect 197
Disappeared girls 213
Peregrine falcon 229
Disentangling 249
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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 19, 2012

    So So

    I read Peter Rock's My Abandonment and loved it and enjoyed his writing style. I wanted to try something else he had written so I gave these stories a try. I guess I am too old school for them, as I found myself hooked by the beginnings and middles of most of them, but the endings were too open ended for my taste. A lot of other people liked them though, so if you like "creepy" stories they are certainly worth a read.

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