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You Have the Wrong Man
     

You Have the Wrong Man

by Maria Flook
 

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Maria Flook’s novels have garnered the higher praise from writers and critics alike. The New York Times called her first novel “jolting,” her writing “ethereal, spare, and erotic.” Novelist E. Annie Proulx placed her “in the front ranks of new American writers.”
 
You Have the Wrong Man is a powerful

Overview

Maria Flook’s novels have garnered the higher praise from writers and critics alike. The New York Times called her first novel “jolting,” her writing “ethereal, spare, and erotic.” Novelist E. Annie Proulx placed her “in the front ranks of new American writers.”
 
You Have the Wrong Man is a powerful new work by this gifted writer. Flook’s stories enter the new sanctuaries where men and women connect, and in these eight unveiled liaisons sexual desire is presented in its deepest reaches and it full human scale. In “Rhode Island Fish Company” a woman’s maternal instincts run amok and kindle a startling betrayal; in “Prince of Motown” a household enters a crazed bereavement when Marvin Gaye is murdered; in “Lane” a man volunteers a point-by-point confession of threatening, bitter lust. These are only a few of the edgy coercions that illuminate the moral tests and erotic pressures that tear up couples and unhinge families.
 
In writing that is both psychologically precise and funny, relationships are worn down by carnal debts, hardships, and cold-blooded consummations, but these characters find reprieve as Flook evokes their purist motives—not just to survive, but to survive for one another.

Editorial Reviews

Laura Miller
The eight short stories in Maria Flook's new collection belie the book's dramatic title. In fact, despite the often extreme aspects of the lives these slices are taken from -- transsexualism, domestic violence, heroin, rape, autoerotic self-asphyxiation, incestuous yearnings -- they melt like wafers in the reader's mouth, crafted according to some austere Raymond Carver-esque recipe, eminently tasteful but lacking in flavor. For her characters, Flook chooses mostly aimless, young working-class residents of Providence, Rhode Island: drivers of frozen fish delivery trucks, receptionists, customer service clerks, snowplow operators, drugstore cashiers, a welfare mother. Some of her best passages describe the dispiriting cycle of rifling the want ads; the monotony of hourly wage jobs and the brief, peculiar moments of human contact they sometimes afford; quitting or being fired; and the edgy leisure of unemployment.

Perhaps it's precisely the hapless blankness of these people that flattens out Flook's stories. We view them from a lofty perspective far more knowing than their own. The two most successful stories in You Have the Wrong Man are first-person narratives told by characters with a leg up on the world -- a aunt who seduces her troubled niece's boyfriend and a medical student nursing a bitter and unrequited crush on a successful commercial novelist. Flook generates a tangy irony in the gap between their firmly constructed self-images and the events they relate. Here, at last, she seems to have a thing or two to say about emotional opportunism and our perverse appetite for unhappiness. "I saw how the end of an affair is an end to the suspension of disbelief," the medical student observes sourly. "A lot like the close of a circus act when we see the sword swallower collect his array of knives. The lights go up and we see the nets and wires which we had not noticed before." Otherwise, Flook's stories -- although gracefully written in a low-key, understated mode -- take too much after their characters, drifting into existence without any real sense of purpose. -- Salon

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780307831620
Publisher:
Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date:
08/21/2013
Sold by:
Random House
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
256
File size:
2 MB

Meet the Author

Maria Flook is the author of two novels, Family Night, which was awarded a PEN American/Ernest Hemingway Foundation Special Citation, and Open Water. She has received a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship and a Pushcart Prize for Fiction. Ms. Flook teaches in the core faculty of the Bennington Graduate Writing Seminars at Bennington College. She lives in Truro, Massachusetts.

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