CRIES FOR HELP, VARIOUS
From the highly acclaimed author of EDISTO and THE INTERROGATIVE MOOD, Padgett Powell’s new collection of stories, CRIES FOR HELP, VARIOUS, follows his mentor Donald Barthelme’s advice that “wacky mode” must “break their hearts.”
In “Joplin and Dickens,” the musician and writer meet as emotionally needy students in an American middle school; in “Change of Life,” a father ponders whether getting new clothes for the family or the patriotic purchase of a “new Government Cookie Flyer” would be more meaningful. In “The Imperative Mood,” giving orders to others—“Fall back and regroup”—leads less to power than to rumination.
Padgett Powell’s language is both lofty and low-down, his tone cranky and heartfelt, exuberant and inconsolable. His characters rebel against convention and ambition, hoping to maintain their very sanity by doing so. Even the most hilarious or fantastical stories in CRIES FOR HELP, VARIOUS ring gloriously, poignantly, true.
Padgett Powell has taught at the University of Florida MFA program for 25 years. For his seven books, which have been translated into ten languages, he has won the Whiting Foundation Award, the Pushcart Prize, the James Tait Black Prize, and the American Academy Prix de Rome; his novel EDISTO was a finalist for the National Book Award. His writing has appeared in Harper’s, The Paris Review, Esquire, and The New Yorker.
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