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These stories (and one novella) arrive in the midst of the #Metoo movement. They examine the fallout from failed relationships between men and women, relationships that have crumbled under the weight of betrayal, misplaced hopes, illness—and in particular, from masculinity at its most toxic and misguided. A man in his mid-thirties receives a call from a woman he barely knew who informs him that a girl he bedded and dumped in high school has died of cancer. Another man who had an affair and left a woman without any warning finds himself working on a demolition job with a younger man who might be their son. Another man, obese for years, is left by his wife, loses weight and, drunk with the power of being finally fit, disastrously tries to reconnect with his former spouse. And in the title story of the collection, a woman summoned to the bedside of her son who has suffered a gunshot wound must finally come to terms with the serial infidelities of her charming ex-husband. These fictions ask very contemporary questions: how do ex-spouses learn to live again in proximity to one another; how do we make peace with our bodies and their own worst impulses; how do we learn to turn and face, full-on, the worst mistakes of our younger selves?
Christopher Coake is the author of the novel You Came Back (2012) and the story collection We’re in Trouble (2005), which won the PEN/Robert Bingham Fellowship for a first work of fiction. His new collection, You Would Have Told Me Not To, will be published in 2020 by Delphinium. In 2007 he was named one of Granta's Best Young American Novelists. His short fiction has been anthologized in collections such as Best American Mystery Stories 2004; The Best American Noir of the Century; and Gutted: Beautiful Horror Stories; and has been published in numerous literary journals. A native of Indiana, Coake received his MFA in fiction from the Ohio State University. He is an Associate Professor of English at the University of Nevada, Reno, where he directs the MFA program in creative writing. He lives in Reno with his wife, Stephanie Lauer, and their two dogs.