Staff Picks: Books
Staff-recommended reading from the
A Poet of American Sadness
"One of those writers who possess an uncanny and seemingly otherworldly understanding of the human condition . . . Chaon [is] a remarkable chronicler of a very American kind of sadness, much in the tradition of Richard Yates, Raymond Carver, and Denis Johnson. . . . These stories are to be savored.”—San Francisco Chronicle
Dan Chaon’s newest collection of short stories Stay Awake has simply blown me away. Not since Raymond Carver has a writer with such skill and command, brought to such penetrating light, the sadness and despair of the richly drawn characters that dot his stories. His emotionally striking yet undertstated fiction will haunt and stay with you long after you’ve finished reading them. Chaon is not a particularly stylistic writer but rather one of the naturalist tradition. We see in his richly drawn characters a real desire to break free of their life’s constraints, be they social or psychic. However, there are fewer happy endings in Chaon’s world than you’ll find in other writers who steer clear of the kind of storytelling Chaon has mastered. Not to be missed, one of the best books of fiction you’ll read all year.