The Book of Right and Wrong: Ohio State University Prize in Short Fiction Audible Audiobook – Unabridged
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Matt Debenham's stories are for people who think they don't like short stories. These stories don't leave off in mid-breath; instead, they feature characters who seem to live on even after their closing pages. The humor in The Book of Right and Wrong makes the jarring moments that much more jarring, and the tender moments that much more tender.
At once heartbreaking and hilarious, the 11 stories in The Book of Right and Wrong capture their characters at the defining moments of their lives. A mother finds herself defending her son's biggest bully from a tormentor of his own; a young man watches as his cape-wearing former high-school classmate proves himself more adept at making friends; a social worker gambles everything on expediting an adoption-and causes unforeseen consequences for every person in her life; a boy standing in for Jimmy Carter in his elementary school's mock-election inadvertently starts a bloody playground war; an ex-con single father finds himself on the inside of his town's social circle, with no clue as to how the game is played.
With lively storytelling and empathy to spare, The Book of Right and Wrong defies the notion that full, memorable characters live only in novels.
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|Listening Length||5 hours and 26 minutes|
|Audible.ca Release Date||October 10 2012|
|Publisher||University Press Audiobooks|
Top reviews from other countries
And by threading these together, The Book of Right and Wrong assembles a weird community of stories about the truest people dealing with the unfortunate realities of life. Childhood obliviousness, faux-cool teens, work struggles and marriage doubts. Some are tragic, some are hilarious, all are touching.
But the problem with the original question is that, "roller-coaster" isn't really it, because on a roller-coaster you can count on a pretty predictable up-and-down. Here, each story never ends up how you think it should, with a happy reunion or tragic confrontation. They end the way real life stories end: with emotions and behavior rooted way deeper than the temporary situation.
That isn't to say it's all drama. For example, reading "I Was Jimmy Carter" WILL make you laugh out loud, as will "Beard of Bees". And one story will make you cry (I won't name which, that could ruin it). All of this is because these chapters don't read like fiction. Even though they weren't based on true stories, it's a certainty they've happened somewhere in real life -- but just weren't written down, and definitely not in this way.
So perhaps the roller-coaster analogy is false, because roller-coasters aren't a thing that happens outside of the fantasy world of an amusement park. I guess a better image would be a gun hammer click back. You sense it at the start of each story, but you don't find out which character the gun's pointed at until the last page.
But I love them all (except maybe Miles's sister)(and the ambivalence I feel for her is mixed with the jealous crush I had on their mother the second I finished rereading "Kate the Destroyer"). And the other stories are just as good if not better. They reminded me of early Chris Offutt mixed with the best of Tom Perrotta, the best John Irving, some delicate well-timed Amy Hempel, and . . . Three times, I said to my wife: "You've got to read this story," and finally she said, "Just give the the whole thing when you're done."
I didn't mention my complicated feelings for Miles's mother to my wife.
Aside from being brilliantly written, the plots and characters get stuck in your head and you can't shake them out. I want everyone to read this book so that we can use the stories and characters as a common point of reference in conversation.
You will love this book.