From the deeply unsettling to the possibly supernatural, these thirty-one border-crossing stories from around the world explore the uncanny in literature, and delve into our increasingly unstable sense of self, home, and planet. The Uncanny Reader: Stories from the Shadows opens with “The Sand-man,” E.T.A. Hoffmann’s 1817 tale of dopplegangers and automatons—a tale that inspired generations of writers and thinkers to come. Stories by 19th and 20th century masters of the uncanny—including Edgar Allan Poe, Franz Kafka, and Shirley Jackson—form a foundation for sixteen award-winning contemporary authors, established and new, whose work blurs the boundaries between the familiar and the unknown. These writers come from Egypt, France, Germany, Japan, Poland, Russia, Scotland, England, Sweden, the United States, Uruguay, and Zambia—although their birthplaces are not always the terrains they plumb in their stories, nor do they confine themselves to their own eras. Contemporary authors include: Chris Adrian, Aimee Bender, Kate Bernheimer, Jean-Christophe Duchon-Doris, Mansoura Ez-Eldin, Jonathon Carroll, John Herdman, Kelly Link, Steven Millhauser, Joyce Carol Oates, Yoko Ogawa, Dean Paschal, Karen Russell, Namwali Serpell, Steve Stern and Karen Tidbeck. (more…)
( Arcade Publishing, an imprint of Skyhorse Publishing, May 2011)
On the cusp of mid-life, Sandor explores the wonder and fragility of a new marriage, an old house, and a new garden threatened by unexpected urban development. Comic and serious, spontaneous and reflective, The Late Interiors tells the story of five seasons of change and renewal in a woman’s life, braiding entries from a garden journal with short meditations and full-blown essays on our eternal—and contradictory—hunger for adventure and refuge. (more…)
(Sarabande Books, 2003)
Ten linked stories that explore the emotional snarls in a secretive Jewish family.
2004 Winner of the National Jewish Book Award in Fiction
Rachel Gershon’s family is full of secrets. In her Grandmother Eva’s house, the doors are shut and curtains are drawn at all times. Her mother, Clara, can “seal a piece of time like a letter and send it away,” and her father, Abe, saves his confession until he’s well beyond the grave. It is Rachel’s only consolation that someday she’ll have the whole story, that she might, if she listens carefully enough, be able to trace the whispers back past her home on the steep ocean cliffs of California to the Indiana college town in the 1930s where it all began.
In “Elegy for Miss Beagle” a melodramatic young Clara daydreams of death, and romanticizes tragedy, until she is faced with her piano teacher’s sudden suicide. In the title story, Clara tries to cure the boredom that “slips over her like a harness” by secretly posing for an artist while she is pregnant. Later, in “God’s Spies,” Rachel witnesses how good adults can be at keeping secrets when her mother signs up to pose nude again, this time covered from head to toe in gold paint for a local Arts Festival. The ten linked stories of Portrait of My Mother, Who Posed Nude in Wartime, display a Chekhovian restraint, an exceptional richness and depth of insight into the strangeness at the heart of every family. Here, the profundity of everyday sadness is laid bare in lucid, quiet terms. Marjorie Sandor tells her stories like secrets, as if “some story under the story was trying to rise up.” (more…)
The Night Gardener is more than a memoir: it is a quest. Literature, music, the art of storytelling, fly-fishing, gardening as an expression of our deepest selves, the nature of memory, and the desire to story our own lives are its subjects. Ultimately, transcendence through storytelling is the secret strength at the heart of Sandor’s life, work, and play. These twenty essays form a startlingly honest and passionate narrative that strikes a mesmerizing balance between the domains of the domestic and the creative. Sandor is bold and heretical, witty and learned, From fishing in an alligator-infested lake and hiking through grizzly territory to seeking a way to ease her young daughter’s pain after separating from her husband, she explores wildness and solace in both the outdoors and the mind. (more…)
A Night of Music is about people, about the accumulation of events and possessions that can explain or betray them. Some escaped unscathed but many do not. A woman searches for the meaning of “mother” and “daughter” in an aged photograph of her grandmother, steeped in family legend, in “The Gittel.” A young Mexican girl holds a Victrola in her lap and is both witness and participant as her mother and her new lover begin a slow dance on a train moving through California. A brilliant accompanist measures the intentions of achievement and success in “The World is Full of Virtuosos.” These stories are rich with a keen participation in the details of childhood, religion, family, and home; a score filled with drama, pathos, tragedy, and the joy that lies beneath the rhythm of lives. (more…)