The Dead Fish Museum

The Dead Fish Museum

Paperback - 2007
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Each of these eight burnished, terrifying, masterfully crafted stories is set against a landscape that is both deeply American and unmistakably universal. 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 magnificent 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, as muscular and challenging as the best novels, is about people who have been orphaned, who have lost connection, and who have exhausted the ability to generate meaning in their lives.

A must read for everyone who cares about literary writing, The Dead Fish Museum belongs on the same shelf with the best American short fiction.
Publisher: New York : Vintage Books, 2007.
Edition: 1st Vintage contemporaries ed.
ISBN: 9781400077939
Branch Call Number: Fic
Characteristics: 236 pages ; 21 cm


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Apr 15, 2015

The storylines were interesting and well crafted, but just too depressing. A happy ending is not always required but some hope would be nice.

Jan 23, 2015

I recently read erstwhile Northwesterner Charles D'Ambrosio's excellent collection of essays, "Loitering," and was quick to search out more of his writing. Published in 2006, his book of short stories, "The Dead Fish Museum," highlights the same tenderness, subtle wit, and insight of his essays. Sort of in the so-called "dirty realism" vein, there are echoes of Carver's tough minimalism, Hemingway's Nick Adams's stories of hunting and fishing, and the squalid grace of Johnson's "Jesus' Son." His characters, even if there are successful, like the protagonist of "Screenwriter," dwell on the margins, whether it be of society or their own grip on sanity. He deserves the attention that the vastly overrated George Saunders hogs.


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