Howling at the Moon

Howling at the Moon

by Steven Mayfield

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Overview

Funny, incisive, heartbreaking, and at times wickedly cynical, this eclectic collection of short fiction by Steven Mayfield mines the soul of the American character, unearthing hope and despair, goodness and gloom, largesse and larceny. With four new versions of previously published work and five new stories.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780975331408
Publisher: Mount Parnassus Press
Publication date: 04/29/2010
Pages: 146
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.34(d)

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Howling at the Moon 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 7 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Mayfield scores a hit with Howling at the Moon. He works the art of short story writing into an engaging collection of imagative and enertaining pieces. Each story is unique and charming - some are humorous, some sad, but all leave the reader with having experienced something new and memorable.
Regretful More than 1 year ago
. . . exuberant cries of protest are among the many ripostes to life's absurdities in this scintillating collection of stories. The conundrums in which Mayfield's characters find themselves run the gamut from loveless marriage, to familial die-off, to disappointment on a truly epic scale. In the mordantly funny title story, a man arrives at his mother's funeral only to be presented with a coffin containing the wrong corpse and ends up mourning the beatific stranger more than he does his own flesh and blood. In the moving "Reliquary," a husband who has devotedly tended his paralyzed wife for 20 years (her only means of communication are blinks and expressive eye rolls) suddenly discovers that he's the dependent partner in the relationship. "The Next One" finds a young white schoolteacher in New Orleans in over her head when she reaches out to a troubled black student. And the simultaneously sardonic and elegiac "Which Way's Ireland?" imagines Charles Lindbergh's luckless double--a young flier who sets out on a solo crossing of the Atlantic in 1927, only to wind up in the most humiliating possible place. The author moves confidently across a range of registers, from the raucous cynicism of "Food Chain," which casts Manhattan as a state of nature where everyone is both predator and prey, to the fraught pathos of "Mothers," in which the parents of a pregnant teen, anxious that she arrange her life perfectly, pressure her to have an abortion. He writes with a deadpan wit and a limpid prose style shot through with flashes of eyeball-searing imagery. (".head quivering, his slack-jawed mouth fixed in a jagged cracked egg of a grin as if he's about to add a ha-cha-cha-cha like Jimmy Durante," reads his unforgettable thumbnail of a New York street weirdo.) More than that, Mayfield has a sharp psychological acuity that really gets under the skin of his characters as they mount sublimely inappropriate responses to tragi-comic predicaments. A superbly wrought set of tales, as beguiling as a midnight serenade.
MRChristian More than 1 year ago
In this small but impactful collection of stories, Steven Mayfield shows us that humor can survive death, lasting art can be drawn from the banality of a failed relationship or alcoholic despair, and both can be wrought from something as simple as a traffic jam. Writing and stories as search for universal truth is cliche, and Mayfield deftly avoids this potential pitfall. Instead, his stories remind us that all truths, at least those relating to our humanity, are personal. This may be Mayfield's point; he accomplishes the difficult feat of leaving enough detail out of each story to force us to fill the gaps internally, while not leaving us stranded. No doubt a survey would reveal a wide range of descriptions of those reader-filled interstices, and the malleability of these stories is in part what makes this collection a pleasure to read; the engagement provoked by the reading causes the mental movie and recognition of self that are the results of a great story. Jenner, the funeral-crashing everyman of the title story, is adrift following the loss of his immediate family members in quick succession, but we are never imposed upon by a prescribed version of that family's history. Just as readily as Mayfield allows us our personal truths, however, he exposes the gulf that confronts us in our negotiation of others, through the young teacher in "The Next One." Too often the MFA culture has led to stories well written but badly told, a combination of linguistic pyrotechnics and interminable navel-gazing (I confess Alice Munro strikes me this way). "Howling at the Moon" is proof that there is hope for stories after all. These stories are dazzlingly written -- Mayfield's ability to turn a phrase is exquisite -- but more importantly they are well told, the kind of stories that take us in and make us re-read them. Unlike so many works, here the words are not the jewels, the stories themselves are, and the words are sharply cut facets. The canon of truly notable contemporary short story collections is small. Tony Doerr's "The Shell Collector," Ethan Canin's "Emperor of the Air," Russell Banks' "Trailer Park", Jhumpa Lahiri's "Interpreter of Maladies," and Raymond Carver come to mind. "Howling at the Moon" makes a strong play for placement in that exclusive group, and the literary world should take notice.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Filled with unforgettable characters and engaging plot twists, Howling at the Moon is wickedly funny, tragically poignant, and always entertaining.
BlackberryBH More than 1 year ago
Steven Mayfield's Howling at the Moon is a stunning collection of short stories, with wicked twists, lunatic moments, and wayward souls just trying to find a plum line south or some sense of family and familiarity. The characters are really characters-iconoclastic, adrift, caught in a web of life so dense they can't wriggle free, one of them terminally lost, another just waiting in downtown traffic. These are old fashioned stories, in the vein of O Henry, with a beginning, a middle, and an end, all with a solid plum line, a reason for being, and a satisfaction of a tale told well. You won't put these down after you've read them, wondering just what in the heck happened. You'll know.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
For some time, I've mostly read novels and poetry, but this book made me remember what I used to enjoy about short stories. There is not a meaningless story in the book and not a wasted word. It is precise and elegant, filled with prose in the right places. I enjoyed it from start to finish; the crazy characters, the deep sadness, and the funny breaks in between. There is a clever wit throughout that made me smile but never left me feeling cynical. Would recommend it to a friend.