This Is a Voice from Your Past: New and Selected Stories

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9780865381131: This Is a Voice from Your Past: New and Selected Stories
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"Every woman gets a call like this sooner or later. The phone rings, a man says: 'This is a voice from your past.'" The opening of the compelling title story of Merrill Joan Gerber's collection sets the tone for each of the thirteen remarkable pieces therein, two of them previously unpublished. Set mostly in Southern Californiain seemingly peaceful, suburban householdsGerber's stories expose the raw, sometimes murderous impulses normally hidden beneath the facade of middle-class life. From the vulnerable women of "I Don't Believe This" and "Night Stalker" to the increasingly paranoid housewife of "Dogs Bark"; from the ferocious infighting of family life in "We Know That Your Hearts Are Heavy," "A Daughter of My Own," and "Latitude" to the sudden triumphs of unexpected revelation in "Approval" and "See Bonnie & Clyde Death Car," Merrill Joan Gerber's powerful collection confirms her place among the ranks of America's best fiction writers.

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About the Author:

Merrill Joan Gerber is the author of seven novels, among them Anna in the Afterlife, chosen by The Los Angeles Times as one of the best novels of 2002. Her stories have appeared in prominent magazines, including The New Yorker, The Atlantic Monthly, Mademoiselle, and have won a number of prizes, including an O. Henry award. She lives in Sierra Madre, California.

From Publishers Weekly:

Veteran novelist, memoirist and short story author Gerber (Stop Here, My Friend) demonstrates her prowess in several of these compelling stories. The title tale is hands-down the most entertaining, thrusting readers into an established writer's life as she receives a call out of the blue from a college friend, Ricky, the most gifted writer in her class who somehow lost that "window of opportunity" to his success and is now transient and unstable. The narrator is married with small babies, a busy teacher of writing, who nonetheless welcomes the lost writer back into her life, but soon learns what a liability he is. In several of the stories, the suicide of the narrator's brother-in-law takes precedence. In "I Don't Believe This," first published in The Atlantic, two mature sisters take refuge from a menacing husband, who threatens to kill himself if his wife doesn't come back to him-and he eventually does, to everyone's amazement. The suicide reemerges in the story "My Suicides," an eerie recollection of deaths of friends, including a more detailed version of the abusive brother-in-law's suicide, which the narrator tries to comprehend: "And I, in my quiet home, with my children and my good husband, in my measured and reasoned life, became an accomplice to his fury." "Latitude," first published in the New Yorker, is a lovely, cut-and-dried drama of a young married woman enjoying her newly won power over her hateful in-laws, while the last story, "Dogs Bark," pursues the decade-long revenge that a couple endures living next to a family with obnoxiously loud dogs. Overall, Gerber demonstrates power in her prose style, skill in her characterizations-though there is some inconsistency in the narrative tone of the middle stories, which read like chapters of novels. Hers is a work of substance and intelligence.
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