The Middle-Aged Man and the Sea

The Middle-Aged Man and the Sea

by Christopher Meeks

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Product Details

BN ID: 2940013100244
Publisher: White Whisker Books
Publication date: 08/16/2011
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 153
File size: 684 KB

About the Author

Christopher Meeks was born in Minnesota, earned degrees from the University of Denver and USC, and has lived in Los Angeles since 1977. He's taught English at Santa Monica College, and creative writing at CalArts, UCLA Extension, Art Center College of Design, and USC. His fiction has appeared often in Rosebud magazine as well as other literary journals, and his books have won several Noble (not Nobel) Awards. His short works have been collected into two volumes, "The Middle-Aged Man and the Sea" and "Months and Seasons," the latter which appeared on the long list for the Frank O'Connor International Short Story Award. He's had three plays produced, and "Who Lives?: A Drama" is published. His focus is now on longer fiction. His first novel is "The Brightest Moon of the Century," and his second, "Love At Absolute Zero."

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Middle-Aged Man and the Sea 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 7 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Christopher Meeks bounces onto the literary scene as a vibrant new voice filled with talent and imagination. THE MIDDLE-AGED MAN & THE SEA is one of the finer collection of short stories that will rapidly rise to the top to of the heap of a battery of fine writers of this difficult medium. Meeks writes about all the little bumps and stumbling blocks we all face in our contemporary journey through life. His stories deal with broken marriages, fractured dreams, death, brain damage, isolation, envy, frustrated communication - all topics that hardly sound like fodder for interesting stories, but in Meeks' polished hands these topics become the conversation of life in society today. They contain keen humor, pain as well as tenderness, and insights into topics that most other writers consider taboo. There isn't a weak story in the thirteen works here, most having been published in literary magazines prior to this book form. 'Green River' is a family outing that reveals the dissolution of companionship in a few terse pages. 'He's Home' is a quick tale of a man, probably cyclothymic or bipolar, bringing flowers home to his wife only to find she has left him: his response to this lonely discovery explains the probable reasons for her departure. Meeks is able to travel back in time to explore personal idiosyncrasies as in 'The Rotary' and in 'Dear Ma'. In the latter he also manages to take us inside the mind of a failing senile woman (?Alzheimer's victim?) and is written with such finesse and grace that we actually find ourselves thinking in the way Dear Ma's deteriorating mind works. It is a jewel of a story. 'The Fundamentals of Nuclear Dating' is a funny tale that holds a bite and says a lot about our 21st century computer driven dating (read data gathering) consequences. 'Engaging Ben' is as keen an observation of current bonding as any story out there. Et cetera for the rest of the tales. The odd and strangely wonderful and unique aspect of these is not only the fine writing of a terrific wordsmith, it is also the fact that Meeks is asking us or inviting us to look at the darker things in our lives that go bump in the night. Life in Meeks' stories is full of random coincidences that, depending on our state of vulnerability vs our state of awareness, can either uncover hidden pain or turn on a light to illuminate the elected darkness in which we have chosen to live. He peoples his stories with variations of us and our extended family of humanity and turns us inside out, showing us how our microsecond of life on this planet can be a time of significance or inadvertently squandered. Biting and sassy, eloquent and intelligent, this collection of short stories is excellent reading. Meeks knows his craft: these tiny microcosms of living offer proof that his novels, soon to come, will be works to watch. Very Highly Recommended. Grady Harp
Guest More than 1 year ago
Christopher Meeks bounces onto the literary scene as a vibrant new voice filled with talent and imagination. THE MIDDLE-AGED MAN & THE SEA is one of the finer collection of short stories that will rapidly rise to the top to of the heap of a battery of fine writers of this difficult medium. Meeks writes about all the little bumps and stumbling blocks we all face in our contemporary journey through life. His stories deal with broken marriages, fractured dreams, death, brain damage, isolation, envy, frustrated communication - all topics that hardly sound like fodder for interesting stories, but in Meeks' polished hands these topics become the conversation of life in society today. They contain keen humor, pain as well as tenderness, and insights into topics that most other writers consider taboo. There isn't a weak story in the thirteen works here, most having been published in literary magazines prior to this book form. 'Green River' is a family outing that reveals the dissolution of companionship in a few terse pages. 'He's Home' is a quick tale of a man, probably cyclothymic or bipolar, bringing flowers home to his wife only to find she has left him: his response to this lonely discovery explains the probable reasons for her departure. Meeks is able to travel back in time to explore personal idiosyncrasies as in 'The Rotary' and in 'Dear Ma'. In the latter he also manages to take us inside the mind of a failing senile woman (?Alzheimer's victim?) and is written with such finesse and grace that we actually find ourselves thinking in the way Dear Ma's deteriorating mind works. It is a jewel of a story. 'The Fundamentals of Nuclear Dating' is a funny tale that holds a bite and says a lot about our 21st century computer driven dating (read data gathering) consequences. 'Engaging Ben' is as keen an observation of current bonding as any story out there. Et cetera for the rest of the tales. The odd and strangely wonderful and unique aspect of these is not only the fine writing of a terrific wordsmith, it is also the fact that Meeks is asking us or inviting us to look at the darker things in our lives that go bump in the night. Life in Meeks' stories is full of random coincidences that, depending on our state of vulnerability vs our state of awareness, can either uncover hidden pain or turn on a light to illuminate the elected darkness in which we have chosen to live. He peoples his stories with variations of us and our extended family of humanity and turns us inside out, showing us how our microsecond of life on this planet can be a time of significance or inadvertently squandered. Biting and sassy, eloquent and intelligent, this collection of short stories is excellent reading. Meeks knows his craft: these tiny microcosms of living offer proof that his novels, soon to come, will be works to watch. Very Highly Recommended. Grady Harp
SamSattler on LibraryThing 21 days ago
Nine of the thirteen stories in this first Christopher Meeks short story collection were first published in journals and literary magazines around the country, and anyone reading this little book will certainly understand why that happened. Meeks has a particular talent for getting into the heads of his characters and taking their doubts and concerns as seriously as the characters themselves take them. As a result, readers of Chris Meeks stories do the same.Not all of these stories are about middle-aged people; some of the main characters are in their twenties, some in their thirties, but they have all reached a place where uneasiness about the future dominates their lives.The stories are about relationships ¿ between marriage partners, between couples choosing to live together rather than marry, between daters, and between family members of different generations. There are men and women unhappy about what their marriages have become, older men being pressured into marriage by younger women who are becoming more and more desperate to get it done, and older people simply trying to die with a little dignity. Some of the stories are funny, some are touching and sad, and one of them has a Hitchcock-like ending. What all the stories have in common, though, is the ease with which the reader slips into and out of them, along the way learning something about himself and his own state of mind.My personal favorite, ¿Nike Had Nothing to Do with It,¿ is an ironic tale about a man who heads out on a run to relieve his anger after the mother of his newborn daughter announces that their relationship is no longer working. What happens next is not what either of them expected when the day began.Particularly touching are the stories about dying, ¿Dear Ma,¿ in which an old woman hides more and more in her past as her days run out, and ¿The Rotary,¿ in which a loyal and loving grandson receives an unexpected gift at his grandfather¿s deathbed. Meeks, however, manages to make serious points even when he uses humor in his stories. ¿Divining¿ is about a man who has become so ¿Californicated¿ that, even in all of his weirdness, he believes that he is the normal one and the rest of the world is out of step. And, in ¿Shooting Funerals,¿ another of my favorites, a 38-year-old woman tries to reinvent herself by becoming the world¿s first ¿funeral photographer¿ ¿ and is honestly surprised by the reaction she gets on her first job."The Middle-Aged Man & the Sea" is a very fine short story collection and I highly recommend it, especially to those readers who might be dipping seriously into the short story genre for the first time.This modern day collection is an excellent place to start.Rated at: 5.0
writestuff on LibraryThing 24 days ago
Christopher Meeks¿ first collection of short stories is chock full of humanity. The stories are quirky, accessible and insightful and tackle a variety of themes. In the first story - Academy Award Afternoon and Evening - a couple envies another couple¿s home and expensive furnishings, only to discover there may be more important things in life than material possessions. Likewise, a character¿s ruminations on his mortality in the title story seems to put things in perspective for the narrator who is on a fishing trip with his brother-in-law. 'As he spoke, the words ¿one fine morning¿ came to me. One fine morning, what? It occurred to me that at our best moments, on our fine mornings, our future is golden. ¿Soon¿ we will buy the right IPO and get rich on stock. ¿Soon¿ our spouse will recognize how brilliant we are. ¿Soon¿ our lives would make sense. Year-by-year, though, we have less future, and the current always is against us. If we can¿t be golden or can¿t be recognized or can¿t find sense this year, when? Or how? I wish I knew. Bert looked unusually content, as if he knew but couldn¿t explain. Maybe, I surmised, only when you are dying do you know what is truly valuable. - from The Middle-Aged Man and the Sea, page 29 -'Another theme that recurs throughout the collection relates to the idea that we may not always really know someone. Meeks examines relationships, specifically those of girlfriend/boyfriend and husband/wife and reveals the doubt and secrets hidden beneath a seemingly perfect exterior.'As Darryl lay back, staring into the afternoon sky, he wondered could Cheryl have an affair? No. She was a work junkie and too cynical to have another relationship. If she were having an affair, she¿d have to schedule it. Spontaneity was not her suit. - from High-Occupancy Vehicle, page 123 -'Meeks¿ ability to reveal the very human traits of his characters is one of his strengths. Behind the confident exteriors of some of his male characters lies doubt, fear and vulnerability.'He hadn¿t had any sex for several months, and he wondered if he were no different than salmon, swimming up the river to Ralphs. His genes put him in jeans and had him troll among wedges of cultured milk products to woo the way pilots needed planes or Rustoleum needed rust. Who would want him: Awkward, so damn needy, and with a cowlick? - from The Fundamentals of Nuclear Dating, page 137 -'Throughout the collection, the reader is treated to Meeks¿ black humor and sharp eye for the foibles of humanity. His characters are flawed and at times a bit eccentric. For example, in Shooting Funerals a young woman named Vicky begins to question her relationship with her boyfriend who is resisting marriage. In an effort to establish her independence, Vicky decides she will turn her love of photography into a funeral based business.'On the way home, Vicky pictured in her mind all the shots she invented but did not get: the executor¿s cutting of the cake at the reception, the widow¿s tossing of a faded rose - both of which she thought might become standard shots at funerals. her best creation would have been having the family stand in two rows, their backs to each other to create a corridor where no faces could be seen. The main bereaved person, in this case the widow, would then solemnly walk down the aisle of backs, throwing rice on everyone¿s shoulders, symbolizing, Vicky felt, tears as well as the idea of rebirth. - from Shooting Funerals, page 79 -'My favorite story in this collection was The Rotary which is narrated by a young man who is sitting at the bedside of his dying grandfather. He reflects on his grandfather¿s ¿possible past¿ which also leads to him imagining how his parents met and married. 'Should I shout from the sidelines, ¿No, no, no?¿ That you will marry and divorce and marry and divorce, like yo-yos searching for the perfect spin? Should I say that Henry, my father, is a wonderful man, but they¿re not right for each other, and my sister and I will
Teddy_Rose More than 1 year ago
The Audible version is narrated by the author, Christopher Meeks, himself. It includes 13 quintessential short stories about the human condition. With his trademark sense of humor and quirky, yet realistic characters, Meeks takes us on a journey through the lives of his characters and we even a glimpse into ourselves. Many people who claim not to like short stories, usually say because they don't feel complete. I dare naysayers of Short stories to read this book. Okay, so the endings aren't wrapped up in nice neat bows but neither is real life. "They all lived happily ever after" are the kind of stories we tell children to make them feel safe and secure. These stories have kernels of truth hidden within them. They cover, marriage, middle age, and old age. The thread throughout is human relationships and how we dealt with them. Of course, this wouldn't be a Christopher Meeks book, if there weren't some references to pop culture sprinkled with in. Usually, I find short stories in a collection hit and miss however, 'The Middle-aged Man and the Sea', is quite an even collection. I really loved them all. As for the narration, it was good. There were a few places that you could hear the wetness that can accumulate in ones mouth. I haven't detected this when I have listened to a more seasoned narrator. However, with practice, I believe Christoper Meeks could go from good to great with his narration skills. I hope he records more of his books. I received a free download code for the Audible version for my honest review.
BobGentry1 More than 1 year ago
It was okay, some of the stories interesting. Definitely worth the 99 cents.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago