Apparition & Late Fictions: A Novella and Stories

Apparition & Late Fictions: A Novella and Stories

by Thomas Lynch


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780393339024
Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
Publication date: 02/14/2011
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 216
Sales rank: 1,297,628
Product dimensions: 8.02(w) x 5.52(h) x 0.55(d)

About the Author

Thomas Lynch's essays, poems and stories have appeared in The Atlantic, Granta, The New York Times, the New Yorker, the Paris Review, and elsewhere. He lives in Milford, Michigan where he has been the funeral director since 1974, and in Moveen, Co. Clare, Ireland where he keeps an ancestral cottage.

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Apparition & Late Fictions: A Novella and Stories 3.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 13 reviews.
dickmanikowski on LibraryThing 21 days ago
Ive heard a great deal of praise for the author's essays, but this collection of three short stories and a novella were the first Lynch book I was able to lay my hands on.They're good. I didn't make it all the way through the novella before deciding to return the book (late!) the the library, but it was as gripping as the stories were.
wilsonknut on LibraryThing 21 days ago
W.W. Norton & Company released Thomas Lynch¿s first collection of short fiction today. Lynch is probably best known as the ¿poet-undertaker¿ and author of The Undertaking, his meditative collection of essays on, you guessed it, being an undertaker. The Undertaking was a finalist for the National Book Award.In ¿Matinée de Septembre,¿ protagonist Aisling Black sums up the themes of these stories with what she teaches her writing students, ¿Sex and death¿ are the only subjects worth thinking about¿ Love and Grief, she would further instruct them, share the one body.¿ No surprise, Lynch, like most writers, sticks to what he knows ¿ death, loss, grief¿ and well¿ I guess sex.The collection opens with ¿Catch and Release,¿ a story about Danny, a young fishing guide who comes to terms with the death of his father by taking his father¿s ashes fishing with him in a thermos. He visits spots on the river that spark memories of his father, who taught Danny to fish. When Danny was restless and sullen after his mother died, Danny¿s father encouraged him to do what he loved best. ¿`The Lord,¿ the churchman told his son, `has a fondness for fishermen.¿¿ The story ends with a little twist.¿Bloodsport,¿ in my opinion, is the best story in the collection. Martin, a funeral director, has to pick up the body of twenty-year-old Elena, who was shot by her husband in a murder-suicide. Martin first met Elena when he planned the funeral for her father. She was fifteen at the time, and Martin had an inappropriate infatuation with the girl that he skillfully hid. He tries to fathom Elena¿s fate: "How could someone kill someone so coldly, someone with whom you had made plans, had sex, watched television, promised love? It left him with a functional ambiguity. Martin tried to assemble a resonable sentence in which the last phrase went like and then he shot her twice, because¿ but he was always unsuccessful."We get Elena¿s tragic story through Martin¿s restructuring of events as he goes through the process of preparing the body and comforting Elena¿s mother as she makes plans. Lynch, who is obviously very familiar with this process, skillfully writes: "¿embalming was only part of the process of laying out the dead, which was only part of the process of the funeral, and the funeral was only a part of the larger concept of a death in the family, and a death in the family was a more manageable prospect, more generic, somehow, than the horror¿round and witless and recognizable and well beyond his professional abilities¿of a lovely girl, grown lovelier as a woman, who leaned on him and counted on him and had kissed him once as if she meant it and who moved away and then got shot like an animal in the woods by a man about whom Martin knew next to nothing."In ¿Hunter¿s Moon,¿ we meet Harold Keehn who has lost two wives to divorce, one wife to cancer, and a daughter to an accident. In the previously mentioned ¿Matinée de Septembre,¿ Professor Aisling Black, whose husband died long before the story begins, is trying to deal with the loss of her youth. Both stories have twists at the end that most readers will see coming. I think Lynch is trying to capture too many details in both of these stories, and in doing so, he loses the characters.The novella and namesake of the collection, Apparition, is about Adrian Littlefield, a Methodist pastor whose wife has left him for another man and a more exciting artistic lifestyle. Adrian loses his job at the church, but goes on to write a bestselling self-help book for divorcees, gets rich, and has lots of meaningless sex with strange women on the lecture circuit. As Adrian makes a day-trip to the site of his wife¿s first infidelity the day after one of his speaking engagements, he recollects how he got where he is and the story unfolds.After his wife leaves, the local Catholic priest, who drinks, smokes dope, and cusses like a sailor, leads Adrian astray. Adrian sings The Beatles¿ Let It Be in fro
Osbaldistone on LibraryThing 21 days ago
[LT early reviewer - These comments apply to the advance reading edition (ARC)]The first two stories in this collection, "Catch and Release" and "Bloodsport", are themselves worth buying the book, and there are no duds in this collection of five stories. All are about someone who is a loner (by choice or by chance), the situation which prompts them to look at the path that has led them to this point in time, and how they now cope with what life has handed them. There is a uniformity in tone in this collection, and a similarity in the emotional places where the characters find themselves.All are enjoyable reads; none so complex as to make the reading a chore; and some moments (if not entire stories) will stay with you quite awhile after you've put this work back on the shelf. Os.
tdmatthews on LibraryThing 21 days ago
This collection of stories follows well drawn, quiet characters who are facing life after a loss - actual physical death, a loss of faith, relationships, personal identity - and all are working to replace what filled them, made them who they were. The stories are often macabre, but the writing is lovely and punctuated with a dry wit that really was the surprise of this collection for me. I didn't expect humor in something so dark, but I laughed out loud more than once.The main character in Matinee de Septembre says "All art communes with all the art that came before it" and Lynch certainly is no exception. Other reviewers have already mentioned nods to Hemingway and Mann, and I will add Auden and the Bible to the list. SPOILER ALERT: The unexpected ending of Catch and Release brought to mind Psalm 102:9, a very mournful Psalm of David: "For I eat ashes as my food and mingle my drink with tears". Beautiful, sad and funny to me somehow.I look forward to future fiction from Lynch.
gwalklin on LibraryThing 21 days ago
I've only gotten through "Hunter's Moon" so far, which I can say was an enjoyable story. It did lack a little action, but I must credit Lynch with many clever turns of phrase and witticisms -- a mark of an experienced writer. Hope the rest of the collection is as good.
adelavoe on LibraryThing 21 days ago
Thomas Lynch¿s deft collection of 5 stories brilliantly and simply meld death, life, and nature. Mr. Lynch has a visceral knowledge of Michigan. He knows the land and he knows the business of death. In ¿Catch and Release¿ a grieving fishing guide takes his father¿s ashes to scatter throughout the tangled roots of Michigan¿s lake system. The sentences in this story are as beautiful as any I have read since Hemingway. For example ¿ ¿At the top, he began digging the dog¿s grave, the work quickening with anger and slowing with sadness, the variable speeds of the labor like the division of his heart.¿ This sentence is balanced on the ¿and¿ like a fulcrum and is perfect. ¿Bloodsport¿ is a memorable piece of writing about the love of a mortician for a lovely young woman who is murdered by her husband. The heartbroken mortician has to prepare the body and reflects on the woman¿s life and death.¿Hunter¿s Moon¿ is another superb road map paean to Michigan. Harold Keehn, a retired casket salesman recalls his job, the death of two marriages, and the deaths of his daughter and third wife.¿Matinee de Septembre¿ is not as strong as the first three. The story is a not very clever rip off of ¿Death in Venice¿. Mr. Lynch was somewhat lackadaisical in his approach to this story unless he was being ironic which went over my head. The unrequited love is between two uninteresting women. The female scholar Ainsling follows around the teenage object of love, Bintalou, who is often the company of her father just as the the scholar von Aschenbach follows Tadzio who is in the company of his mother. The backdrop of the typhoid epidemic is replaced by the economic recession. There were no surprises with the ending.The novella ¿Apparition¿ takes a hard look at the death and ghost of a marriage between a minister and his bored wife. This was an interesting story.Altogether I really enjoyed Mr. Lynch¿s rich journey through the charming Michigan landscape. I am looking forward to reading his other writings.
Dogberryjr on LibraryThing 21 days ago
As with any collection of stories, some of the pieces in Thomas Lynch's Apparition and Late Fictions are stronger than others, and some are more evocative than others. On the whole, this is a great collection. Lynch writes with care, constructing each character and crafting his scenes with precision but not so precise as to become sterile. Catch and Release is a tender story borrowing heavily from Hemingway's Big Two Hearted River, but certainly able to stand on its own merits. Hunter's Moon was the most complete story of the bunch, following most of the main character's adult life, including love, death, betrayal and redemption. I'm not certain if it was meant to be funny, but I enjoyed the character's reaction to his wife's choice of a woman over him, "He could understand their attraction to each other and wondered at the time why they couldn't include him." Blood Sport was undoubtedly my favorite story, maybe because it is so close to Lynch's "day job" as an undertaker. He writes with a sweetness seemingly at odds with the task being performed in the story- the preservation and reconstruction of a young woman shot to death by her husband. It seems that Matinee de Septembre is in part an homage to Death in Venice, but I could not quite get a feel for the lead character in this piece, leaving me scratching my head a bit at the end. The final part of the collection is the novella Apparition which I am somewhat ambivalent about, mostly due to its length. I am not sure if it was a short story stretched too far or a novel compressed into too small a space. I liked the story, though, so maybe I should content myself with that.
TheTwoDs on LibraryThing 21 days ago
Thomas Lynch, until now most famous for his award-winning The Undertaking, a study of the art of the funerary trade, tries his hand at fiction and mostly succeeds. Each of the four short stories and the novella in this collection deal with grief and loss, sometimes due to death, sometimes to the dissolution of a relationship."Catch and Release" focuses on a fishing guide grieving the death of his father who taught him how to fish on the same waters on which he now plies his trade. "Bloodsport" is told in flashback by an undertaker who cannot shake his memories of one client's life and death. Clearly the research Lynch did for The Undertaking informs this story most of all. "Hunter's Moon" tells the tale of a retired casket salesman who has buried two wives and had another leave him. He reminisces on his life, his marriages, his struggles with alcohol and his place in the world. "Matinee de Septembre" is the most page-turning among the stories, the story of a professor and poet who decides to vacation on Michigan's Mackinac Island shortly before the Fall semester begins at her university. While there she becomes entranced, perhaps obsessed, by a vision of beauty so overwhelming she risks everything in pursuit of it. The novella, "Apparition", mixes the pathos of the breakup of a minister's marriage with the humorous advice and assistance of a Catholic priest. Moving back and forth in time, it investigates the origins of infidelity in the marriage and discovers that while saving grace might be available from sources less than divine, the price paid can result in the complete transformation of a man's spiritual life.Well written, poetic and striking a tone that feels right, Lynch's first foray into fiction is recommended for fans of short fiction and stories of loss and grief.
orangewords on LibraryThing 21 days ago
Thomas Lynch's collection of short stories and novella, entitled "Apparition & Late Fictions", is a book that tries very hard to be memorable. Unfortunately, though the tales told within this volume are moving in their own ways, the volume in question does not hold that indefinable element that makes a short story collection great.The second story housed within this book is, in a word, fantastic. "Bloodsport" is moving, beautiful, and heart-breakingly lovely. It has stayed in my mind days after my initial reading, and, in my opinion, makes picking up this book worth the reader's time and money. Had all of the narratives in "Apparition & Late Fictions" been as perfect as "Bloodsport", my review would be positively glowing. However, as it stands, I found this collection to be enjoyable, but not stunning in the way that all memorable short story collections are. (Claire Keegan's "Walk the Blue Fields" and Alistair MacLeod's "Island" come to mind as two examples of short stories done devastatingly right.) Still, it must be noted that "Bloodsport", as a stand-alone story has piqued my interest in Lynch, and has encouraged me to look into his other work.
mayumishimosepoe on LibraryThing 21 days ago
There are two kinds of lives possible. One is that of the utterly pulled together and polished author. The kind of person always in control. Who is never of typos. Who revises each thing unto its death, so it can live blameless and perfect on a page in a book on a shelf.And the other life is that which I spent a long time resisting. A sprawling life was how I used to see it. Messy, disorganized, reaching in a million directions, not content to be full to the brim, spilling over, and over, and over. Typos and interests and thoughts and feelings and thoughtfulness and forgetfulness abound. I¿ve come to see that life as an embrace. Now I see it as the writer Philip Graham gently suggested to me: as a chance to fail, inventively, in a million ways, a different one each time but to never take ¿failure¿ as a negative thing¿rather to see it as an active process of recognizing the ever-undoneness of our work. Of our lives. And isn¿t that better? Isn¿t that actually even more humble? To acknowledge the imperfections of one¿s person and life? Thomas Lynch, in Apparitions & Late Fictions, is definitely the latter kind of writer. I can sense the trembling sides of his stories, the weak thudding flanks, but how better to at least be filled with life? There is nothing cold, collected, or controlled about the stories. They sprawl, crawl, veer too far in spurious directions, but they also breathe. I can see where the stories that make up this slender volume would get deconstructed in a fiction workshop, but they are not any less good stories in the moments that they do veer away from the expectations of Literary Fiction with Important Capital Letters. It means only that Lynch had the bravery and imagination to experiment. The willingness to not necessarily succeed. ¿Catch and Release¿ and ¿Bloodsport¿ are your standard fare short stories; ¿Hunter¿s Moon¿ and ¿Matinee de September¿ are more sprawling; and, finally, the title story of the collection ¿Apparition¿ is novella-length at about 90 pages. It is as if, as you go through the collection, each story emboldens the next to be twice as long. The vividness of detail, the large and importantness of theme, all make me recall other ¿grand stories¿ I¿ve read and ideas for ones I want to write. It¿s exactly what I want in a book, highly preferable to ¿perfection¿¿whatever that is, anyway, doubt it exists. I want a story that opens things up, that flings my own imagination open wide and far, that makes me see things that are possible in my own work or allows me to understand events in my own life. These are quiet and quirky little gems of story. Very small arcs. Lynch¿s use of backstory is noticeable but pretty quickly dispatched. Lynch¿s prose is gorgeous, and he particularly wields skillfully the jargon-heavy worlds of fishing, autopsy/funeral preparation, academia, the popular religion book circuit: skillfully navigating between unexplained authenticity (not dumbing it down) and showing readers just enough to get by. Throughout, what hangs above the heads of these people is death and what one has made of one¿s life. Sometimes it is the death of others and sometimes the harbinger of one¿s own imminent demise, but either way, all of these living characters are haunted. Lynch¿s characters are withdrawn into themselves and stuck inside their own minds and stuck with their own selves.
HippieLunatic on LibraryThing 21 days ago
For being about death and loss, this is a vibrant collection by Thomas Lynch. And the moments I shall remember most are the ones I did not see coming...which makes me feel it all the more real and solid exploration of what grief can do.I feel as though it is a weak review to simply say it did not receive 5 stars simply because I wanted more, but that's where I was when I finished the collection. Yes, there were pieces of the puzzle - his characters, their actions, the histories, that were complete, but the arching connection of the novella and short stories still felt as though something was missing. Perhaps I wanted one more short story, giving me another aspect of grief. Perhaps I wanted a continuation of them. Perhaps I wanted them to all intersect with one another. I don't know what I wanted, really... but being left wanting makes this 4 stars as opposed to 5.
SqueakyChu on LibraryThing 21 days ago
What do you get if you cross an undertaker with an essayist? You get author Thomas Lynch who presents his readers with four short stories and a novella in the book Apparitions & Late Fictions.The opener of this collection was ¿Catch and Release¿, an engaging story about a man who takes his father¿s funeral ashes trout fishing with him. During the trip, this man reminisces about his boyhood, a time when he and his dad used to fish together. All proceeds beautifully in the story until the macabre ending which then suddenly ruined it for me. The strongest story was ¿Bloodsport¿, a sensitive study of an undertaker and his relationship to a mother and daughter for whom he provided funereal services. A prolonged kiss from the daughter has the undertaker questioning if there were more of a meaning to this simple gesture.Two more short stories and one novella followed thereafter. At this point, I began to lose interest in the book. There is no doubt that the author is a talented writer. Despite the beauty of his writing in exploring an individual¿s feelings, what was missing for me was a sense of difference among the stories. The tone of all of the five were the same. A person who is lonely or who has experienced loss is working out his feelings. Each of the stories was well-written by itself. For me, however, a more interesting short story collection would be one with stories having more pronounced differences than just the person or the setting. By the end of the book, I was beginning to get bored and felt ready to move on to something else.
Griff on LibraryThing 21 days ago
A strong fiction debut by Lynch. Stories of death, grief, loss and reflection. Bloodsport is powerful, Catch and Release quite provocative. The novella Apparition is an excellent mix of humor, pathos and regret. Perhaps it is the stage of my life. Perhaps it is the recent series of wakes I attended. Perhaps it is the not-too-distant divorce and recent decision to remarry. Whatever it is - this book seems to have come into my life at the right time - or perhaps that is just a sign of good writing. I look forward to further fictional works by Lynch and based on these short stories will also seek out his non-fiction.