Pub Date 19 Feb 2019
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"Mark Mayer writes with a humorous, wistful elegance. His stories are singular, as detached and intimate as dreaming." --Marilynne Robinson
Welcome to the sublime circus of Mark Mayer's Michener-Copernicus-winning debut, Aerialists, a fiercely inventive collection of nine stories in which classic carnival characters become ordinary misfits seeking grandeur in a lonely world.
Under the luminous tent of Mayer's prose, we see P.T. Barnum's caravan remade: A young misogynist finds a confidante in a cable-TV strongwoman. A realtor for the one percent invokes his inner murder clown. A skin-and-bones mathematician and his bearded wife plot revolution. A friendless peach farmer holds a funeral for a beloved elephant. And a model-train hobbyist prepares to throw his miniature world in the trash.
The circus has always been a collection of American exaggerations-the bold, the beautiful, the freakish, the big. Aerialists finds these myths living in the everyday. Mayer's deftly drawn characters illuminate these small-scale spectaculars, and their attempted acts of daring and feats of strength are rendered with humor, generosity, and uncommon grace.
“One of the best collections I’ve read in years. These stories are bright and muscular, luminous and generous, nimble and funny, tender and surprising at every turn.” —Carmen Maria Machado, author of Her Body and Other Parties
“Mayer may well live in the same world as you and me, but he’s able to see beyond it all somehow, and he finds extraordinary weirdness and beauty everywhere he looks. Aerialists is exquisite and wild.” —Peter Orner, author of Am I Alone Here?
“Precise, sharp, unexpected; you go down hard, but know the thrill of being taken out by a master.” —Merritt Tierce, author of Love Me Back