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My Life as an Animal is a book of linked, comic stories. Think of a novel as a bowl you shatter on the floor. These stories are the shards.
Praise for “Animal”
“I loved My Life as an Animal from start to finish. Laurie Stone writes short stories like a ninja playing hopscotch: you might think you’ve seen the game before, but you’ve never seen it played like this, with fierce precision and fearless grace. There’s heartbreak here, and humor, and love with all its flourishes and twists; and, beneath it all, there’s a compelling serenity, a clear still glance at a world which is often chaotic and absurd.”
—Paul La Farge, author of Luminous Airplanes.
“Upsetting the balance of the universe is a job description I would have liked,” remarks the narrator in one of Stone’s stories. The same can be said of Stone, with her acute and kinetic prose. Heartbreak, comedy, exuberance and nuance: they’re all here and they’re pure pleasure. —Margo Jefferson, Pulitzer Prize winner and author of Negroland: a Memoir.
Two sisters remember the times when as young girls old men crept into their beds. The sisters laugh; the men are long dead. A woman who has worked as a caterer in an old synagogue hitches a ride with the driver of a van, and as they ride through a snowy night sharing a corned beef sandwich, they measure the weight of history on each of their lives. A Brit from a working class family finds a way to mourn his dead parents when he is sparked to rage at the sound of a posh accent. These are only a few of the gems in this book. The narrators of Laurie Stone’s stories look for love even in moments of pain, finding strangeness in the very act of close observation. Her stories are terrific, fully imagined, and with an intelligence rare in contemporary American fiction. –Jeffrey Renard Allen, author of Song of the Shank and Rails Under My Back
My Life As An Animal stands out as the fierce, frenetic, drop-dead witty, inspired and unsparing cri-de-coeur of a particular species: the New York Writer of a Certain Age. In sentences that give off sparks. Laurie Stone manages to weave together Downtown history and late-life love, delineating the landscape of one woman’s longing and desire with a ferocity and detail equally evocative of Vivian Gornick, Philip Roth, Cookie Mueller and Louis CK. A truly fantastic collection. Jerry Stahl, author of Permanent Midnight.
Like the book’s narrator who’s a brilliant scrounger at yard sales, this is fiction in search of what is most precious. And it delivers the goods to us again and again, in these superbly lucid tales of sharp-as-a-tack characters ambushed by what matters. Stone’s readers are in for a very great treat. —Joan Silber, winner of the PEN/Hemingway Award, National Book Award finalist, and author of Ideas of Heaven.
“The delight of floating, a word that appears often in this rich collection of stories, has rarely been so scrupulously and movingly investigated. If a Chagall painting could be translated into prose, it would be this book, which reveals the grace and generosity in one woman’s dense, restless, thoughtful life. My Life as an Animal is at once a lark, a love song, and a eulogy for everything that matters most.”–Stacey D’Erasmo, author of Wonderland.
Deciding she has “nothing to lose”, the narrator of Laurie Stone’s remarkable book transplants herself from the Upper West Side to Arizona when she falls in love at age 60. A second-wave feminist and former Village Voice critic and journalist, Stone’s narrator uses age as a truth-drug, revisiting scenes from her personal and cultural past with an energized wisdom and clarity. Recalling “the kind of sex that rises up from excited conversation and the feeling the kind of sex that rises up from excited conversation and the feeling of being in the place where everything you care about is going on” during her activist days, she paradoxically concludes that “the best thing in life is to look back at a time when you had this much feeling.” Witty, unsparing and brave, My Life As An Animal is a hugely original book. Stone provides a profound measure of one life’s losses and gains in deft, unsentimental prose. —Chris Kraus, author of I Love Dick and Aliens and Anorexia.
“Laurie Stone is a great sentence maker and those sentences are, in equal measure, wry, tender and always surprising in their syntax and their shape. Those sentences become the stories that make up “My Life as an Animal” — a book as wondrous and strangely familiar as any I have read in a long time.”–Michael Klein, author of Track Conditions and A Life in the Theater.
“This doesn’t feel like a book; it feels like a person. She’s brave and honest and alert and engaged with life–a little neurotic maybe, but not really, just uninhibited, and her mind races. It’s good to hear from her. The book’s an humane and animal pleasure.”–Richard Hell, author of Go, Now
Laurie Stone is whip-smart and funnier than Woody Allen. She goes deep as well as big. In My Life as an Animal, she is in a relationship with a Brit who chooses to live in the American Southwest. We get to know him, her mother, her friends, and the evil landlord. About her deceased mother she says: “I am glad we will not meet again. I wish she were alive.” This is a true statement. Every statement she makes is true, and that is why we need to read her. And why we love her. Her writing, precise, thoughtful, and compassionate, sparkles like a just-washed car, a vehicle perfectly detailed. She makes every word count.—Kelly Cherry, author of Twelve Women in a Country Called America: Stories
In My Life As An Animal, Laurie Stone’s stories explore the fierce contradictions between what her characters know to be true and what they desire. In mapping their collisions and triumphs, Stone’s razor sharp wit and deep humanity create an American idiom all her own. —Susan Daitch, author of L.C. and Paper Conspiracies.
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