The dead fish museum : [stories]

by Charles A. D'Ambrosio

Paper Book, 2006






New York : Alfred A. Knopf, 2006


"A son confronts his father's madness and his own hunger for connection on a misguided hike in the Pacific Northwest. A screenwriter fights for his sanity in the bleak corridors of a Manhattan psych ward while lusting after a ballerina who sets herself ablaze. A Thanksgiving hunting trip in Northern Michigan becomes the scene of a haunting reckoning with marital infidelity and desperation. And in the title story, carpenters building sets for a porn movie drift dreamily beneath a surface of sexual tension toward a racial violence they will never fully comprehend. Taking place in remote cabins, asylums, Indian reservations, the backloads of Iowa and the streets of Seattle, this collection of stories is about people who has been orphaned, who have lost connection, and who have exhausted the ability to generate meaning in their lives. Yet in the midst of lacerating difficulty, the sensibility at work in these fictions boldly insists on the enduring power of love."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

User reviews

LibraryThing member SeanLong
I’ve never read anything quite like Charles D’Ambrosio’s short story collection, The Dead Fish Museum. It’s Carvereque not only in setting, but it’s that same gritty realism that Carver so brilliantly displayed with his cast of eclectic characters mired in confusion and trouble. Six of the nine stories previously appeared in The New Yorker. And BTW, referring to the cover (which I love), why is “dead” in italics?

This is the first I’ve ever read anything by D’Ambrosio. His writing is poetic and technically stunning with some of the most amazing metaphors I can ever remember reading in a book of short stories (A bite taken out of an apple “turned brown like an old laugh; black leather buttons on a cardigan look like “a baby’s withered navel”), but it’s not a book to read if you’re in a bad mood. Some are very dark and disturbing in tone, but every story in the collection resonates. His fusions of character and setting are just astonishing. This one is vying for my best read short story collection of 2006, right next to Amy Hempel, Alice Munro and Maeve Brennan. I don’t know if I’ll be able to pick one over the other two, each is so different from the other(although a case could me made that Hempel and D’Ambrosio cover the same territory) and affected me in their own distinct way.

Discovering writers like D’Ambrosio keep my reading juices flowing. Just when I think I’m bored with my reading selections and nothing seems to really impress or shock me, along comes a book like this. This is the book I'm pimping on everyone for the rest of the year.
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LibraryThing member chadmarsh
This is a superb collection. If you're like me, you'll find that these stories captivate on the first read and truly blossom on the second or third. D'ambrosio does more in twenty pages than most authors do in 300.

My favorite stories from the collection - "The Scheme of Things," "Up North," "Drummond & Son"… (more)



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