Reasons for and Advantages of Breathing: Stories (Paperback)
Indie Next ListAugust 2009
A superlative collection of stories spanning the breadth of the American psyche. These are tales of ordinary people with questions and longings that will strike a familiar chord. Best of all, Peelle has the good sense to leave the unanswerable in its proper and distant place. -- Roger Pantano, Book Passage, Corte Madera, CA
With this first book of fiction, a gifted young writer brings together eight superbly crafted stories that peer deeply into the human heart, exploring lives derailed by the loss of a vital connection to the land and to the natural world of which they are a part.
"Mule Killers" evokes the end of an era and of a grandfather's dreams when he decides to replace animal power on his farm with tractors. Two restless young girls in "Sweethearts of the Rodeo" live out their last summer of innocence, riding ponies recklessly and spying on their boss and the wealthy women who visit him. In "Phantom Pain," the Tennessee woods are a sliver of what they once were, men now hunt with GPS and cell phones, and the rumor of a dangerous panther on the loose stirs up a small town.
An unexpected vision of the beauty and mystery of life redeems the darkest moments in this stellar debut collection, a book that readers will want to read and reread.
About the Author
Lydia Peelle was born in Boston. Her short stories have appeared in numerous publications and have won two Pushcart Prizes, an O. Henry Award, and been twice featured in Best New American Voices. She lives in Nashville, Tennessee.
Praise for Reasons for and Advantages of Breathing: Stories…
“Lydia Peelle’s lovely, fluid voice lures you into a world full of heartbreak and devastation.... calls to mind masters of the unsettling short story like Mary Gaitskill, or even Alice Munro. … [Peelle] has the makings of a writer who defies labels and creates her own categories.”
-New York Times Book Review
“With humor and insight, these sharply etched fictions illuminate turning points...in lives conscribed by limited horizons.... Peelle vividly evokes a setting and brings its inhabitants...instantly and convincingly to life.”
“An incredible collection of eight gorgeously crafted stories, with wonderfully drawn characters whose individual tales stay with you.”
-San Francisco Chronicle
“The eight stories in Lydia Peelle’s debut collection are remarkable for their clarity and precision. . . . artful...”
“Peelle’s acute perception of a squandered world inspires complex, suspenseful stories that celebrate life’s endless improvisation and assertion....darkly lyrical, ironic and compassionate stories...brilliant and stunning.”
-Kansas City Star
“Peelle’s stories in REASONS FOR AND ADVANTAGES OF BREATHING carry a memory of the Southern past that we might find in a short story by Flannery O’Connor or Eudora Welty.”
“Rock-solid prose, surprising connections, and resounding transformations add up to powerful and significant stories of improvised life in a consumed world.”
-Booklist (starred review)
“Peelle writes her meaty characters with vigor and packs each tale with descriptions so subtly vibrant that they warrant multiple visits.”
“[The stories] read like fully formed classics, as if Bob Dylan was rewriting the stories of Alice Munro. These are eight clear and precise gems, deeply rooted in Southern soil, and alive with every pore to heartbreak and possibility.”
-Louisville Courier Journal