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Karen Joy Fowler, What I Didn't See and Other Stories — Excerpt

Karen Joy Fowler, What I Didn't See and Other Stories — Excerpt

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Published by Gavin Grant
In New York Times bestselling author Karen Joy Fowler’s new collection, the fantastic and the uncanny lurk just below the surface of ordinary lives. In the award-winning title story, the narrator recounts the events of an expedition to the Belgian Congo in 1928 to collect gorillas for the Louisville Museum of Natural History. A mother invents a fairy-tale world for her son in “Halfway People.” Twin sisters backpacking through Europe receive a mysterious invitation. A rebellious teenager is sent to a brutal reform school hidden away in paradise. A young woman inherits the family submarine. In “The Dark,” a researcher tracking plague outbreaks finds himself in the Viet Cong tunnels of Vietnam. A mystery writer visits an archaeological dig in Egypt and sets a curse in motion. In two stories, “Booth’s Ghost” and “Standing Room Only,” Fowler explores the circumstances of Lincoln’s assassination from the perspectives of John Wilkes Booth’s family and friends.

Fowler, perhaps best known for her novels, is a master of the short story form: the secret history, the account of first contact, the murderous, ordinary tensions of family life. She draws on fairy tales, historical narratives, and war reportage, measuring the human capacities for hope and despair, brutality and kindness in the fantastic tradition of writers such as Shirley Jackson, T. H. White, Karen Russell, and Ursula K. Le Guin.

Stories in this collection have received the Shirley Jackson Award and two Nebula Awards.

“The bestselling author of The Jane Austen Book Club goes genre-busting in this engrossing and thought-provoking set of short stories that mix history, sci-fi, and fantasy elements with a strong literary voice. Whether examining the machinations of a Northern California cult, in “Always,” or a vague but obviously horrific violent act in the eerie title story, the PEN/Faulkner finalist displays a gift for thrusting familiar characters into bizarre, off-kilter scenarios. Fowler never strays from the anchor of human emotion that makes her characters so believable, even when chronicling the history of epidemics, ancient archeological digs, single family submersibles, or fallen angels. She even displays a keen understanding of the historical world around Lincoln’s assassin, John Wilkes Booth, in two wonderfully realized historical pieces. Her writing is sharp, playful, and filled with insights into the human condition. The genre shifts might surprise fans of her mainstream hit, but within these pages they’ll find familiar dramas and crises that entertain, illuminate, and question the reality that surrounds us.”
—Publishers Weekly

Praise for Karen Joy Fowler:

“Fowler’s witty writing is a joy to read.”
—USA Today

“Stories that engage and enchant.”
—San Francisco Examiner & Chronicle

“She has a voice like no other, lyrical, shrewd and addictive, with a quiet deadpan humor that underlies almost every sentence.”
—Beth Gutcheon, Newsday

“No contemporary writer creates characters more appealing, or examines them with greater acuity and forgiveness.”
—Michael Chabon, The Yiddish Policemen’s Union

“What strikes one first is the voice: robust, sly, witty, elegant, unexpected and never boring.”
—Margot Livesey, The New York Times Book Review

“Arresting . . . each piece puts us on notice in its own way that an intriguing intelligence is at work.”
—The Boston Globe

“Unforgettable . . . incandescent . . . bewitching.”
—Los Angeles Times Book Review

Publication date: Sept. 21, 2010 · trade cloth/ebook · 9781931520683

http://smallbeerpress.com/forthcoming/2010/07/17/what-i-didnt-see-and-other-stories/
In New York Times bestselling author Karen Joy Fowler’s new collection, the fantastic and the uncanny lurk just below the surface of ordinary lives. In the award-winning title story, the narrator recounts the events of an expedition to the Belgian Congo in 1928 to collect gorillas for the Louisville Museum of Natural History. A mother invents a fairy-tale world for her son in “Halfway People.” Twin sisters backpacking through Europe receive a mysterious invitation. A rebellious teenager is sent to a brutal reform school hidden away in paradise. A young woman inherits the family submarine. In “The Dark,” a researcher tracking plague outbreaks finds himself in the Viet Cong tunnels of Vietnam. A mystery writer visits an archaeological dig in Egypt and sets a curse in motion. In two stories, “Booth’s Ghost” and “Standing Room Only,” Fowler explores the circumstances of Lincoln’s assassination from the perspectives of John Wilkes Booth’s family and friends.

Fowler, perhaps best known for her novels, is a master of the short story form: the secret history, the account of first contact, the murderous, ordinary tensions of family life. She draws on fairy tales, historical narratives, and war reportage, measuring the human capacities for hope and despair, brutality and kindness in the fantastic tradition of writers such as Shirley Jackson, T. H. White, Karen Russell, and Ursula K. Le Guin.

Stories in this collection have received the Shirley Jackson Award and two Nebula Awards.

“The bestselling author of The Jane Austen Book Club goes genre-busting in this engrossing and thought-provoking set of short stories that mix history, sci-fi, and fantasy elements with a strong literary voice. Whether examining the machinations of a Northern California cult, in “Always,” or a vague but obviously horrific violent act in the eerie title story, the PEN/Faulkner finalist displays a gift for thrusting familiar characters into bizarre, off-kilter scenarios. Fowler never strays from the anchor of human emotion that makes her characters so believable, even when chronicling the history of epidemics, ancient archeological digs, single family submersibles, or fallen angels. She even displays a keen understanding of the historical world around Lincoln’s assassin, John Wilkes Booth, in two wonderfully realized historical pieces. Her writing is sharp, playful, and filled with insights into the human condition. The genre shifts might surprise fans of her mainstream hit, but within these pages they’ll find familiar dramas and crises that entertain, illuminate, and question the reality that surrounds us.”
—Publishers Weekly

Praise for Karen Joy Fowler:

“Fowler’s witty writing is a joy to read.”
—USA Today

“Stories that engage and enchant.”
—San Francisco Examiner & Chronicle

“She has a voice like no other, lyrical, shrewd and addictive, with a quiet deadpan humor that underlies almost every sentence.”
—Beth Gutcheon, Newsday

“No contemporary writer creates characters more appealing, or examines them with greater acuity and forgiveness.”
—Michael Chabon, The Yiddish Policemen’s Union

“What strikes one first is the voice: robust, sly, witty, elegant, unexpected and never boring.”
—Margot Livesey, The New York Times Book Review

“Arresting . . . each piece puts us on notice in its own way that an intriguing intelligence is at work.”
—The Boston Globe

“Unforgettable . . . incandescent . . . bewitching.”
—Los Angeles Times Book Review

Publication date: Sept. 21, 2010 · trade cloth/ebook · 9781931520683

http://smallbeerpress.com/forthcoming/2010/07/17/what-i-didnt-see-and-other-stories/

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Published by: Gavin Grant on Sep 06, 2010
Copyright:Traditional Copyright: All rights reserved

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05/12/2014

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original

What I Didn’t See
and Other Stories
Karen Joy Fowler
Small Beer Press
Easthampton, MA
This is a work o fction. All characters and events portrayed
in this book are either fctitious or used fctitiously.
Copyright ©1 by Karen Joy Fowler. All rights reserved.
www.karenjoyowler.com
Small Beer Press
15 Pleasant Street #36

Easthampton, MA17
www.smallbeerpress.com
ino@smallbeerpress.com

Distributed to the trade by Consortium.
Library o Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Library o Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Fowler, Karen Joy.
What I didn’t see : and other stories / Karen Joy Fowler. --1st ed.
p. cm.
ISBN978-1-9315-68-3 (alk. paper)
I. Title.
ps3556.o844W47 1
813.54--dc
15911

First edition1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
Text set in Centaur.
Printed on6-lb.3% recycled paper by Thomson-Shore in Dexter, Michigan.

Cover art ©1 by Erica Harris.
Author photo © Beth Gwinn.

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