Moratorium

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Pub Date 07 Dec 2021 | Archive Date 04 Jan 2022

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Description

From one of America’s acclaimed poet-philosophers comes a stunning short story collection that holds delayed afterimages of people navigating love, loss, desire, and sex.

Gary Percesepe’s new book, MORATORIUM, is a gallery of intimate portraits of people who long for human connection without quite trusting it. In the title story, a war hero lashes his daughter to the banister in the lead-up to a massive anti-Vietnam war protest. A high school boy gives up on love but never Gatsby; another recalls a summer in the Adirondacks when he spurned a classmate whose family later met with tragedy. Beautiful women select men for amusement; parents grieve children they don’t quite get; men dispatch women in order to inventory their loss. In these delicately crafted stories, a drunk speeder bonds with a cop over Uma Thurman’s feet; a grocery clerk engages in revenge sex with someone’s shattered, self-absorbed husband.

These stories are melancholy and wild; they are funny and hopeful, too. Here are people whose lives seem delayed momentarily between mounting losses—stories that reveal the way we live now. Reading this story collection, we see our world again as if for the first time.

From one of America’s acclaimed poet-philosophers comes a stunning short story collection that holds delayed afterimages of people navigating love, loss, desire, and sex.

Gary Percesepe’s new book...


A Note From the Publisher

Gary Percesepe is the author of eleven books, including GASLIGHT OPERA and LIGHT TURNOUT, two poetry collections published in 2021. He is Associate Editor at New World Writing. Prior to that, he was an assistant fiction editor at Antioch Review. He resides in White Plains, New York, and teaches philosophy at Fordham University in the Bronx.

Find out more at https://www.garypercesepe.com/.

Gary Percesepe is the author of eleven books, including GASLIGHT OPERA and LIGHT TURNOUT, two poetry collections published in 2021. He is Associate Editor at New World Writing. Prior to that, he was...


Advance Praise

“Powerful, deeply engaging stories that live in their history as if the past were the present. Percesepe has the gift of recreating time and place in the way of Philip Roth and Roddy Doyle, replete with telling detail and characters we can all recognize.” ~ T.C. Boyle

“However he did it, these stories are simultaneously crisp and gentle, and, repeatedly, Gary Percesepe seems to have found the right viewing distance. The language and sentence cadences sometimes nod to Hemingway, by way of Carver. The stepping stones thrown down are literary, with a nod to (among others) Irwin Shaw, as well as to Patrick Modiano. These stories are surprisingly, refreshingly direct, involving, and very convincing. Really wonderful.” ~ Ann Beattie

“Gary Percesepe's new collection is a jewel, a marvel, a remarkable find. These stories are tasty, tight, bitter, angry, deeply sad, occasionally relieved, and always about both teaching and learning. Moratorium is a gritty performative work that shakes the bones inside the closets where we hide all of our skeletons.” ~ Frederick Barthelme

“Gary Percesepe is an American treasure, a master of short-form fiction whose signature minimalist style veers sharply between earthy naturalism, wry humor, and transcendent spiritual insight that blazes like sudden light on a window-pane. It's impossible to stop reading this powerful collection of stories of men and women fumbling toward acceptance and redemption as they emerge from states of emotional limbo created by the inevitable losses that life presents. Percesepe's characters are by turns dark, sexy, comical, and often maddeningly flawed, but are always depicted with a revivify-ing sense of wonder that renders them both deeply human, and unforgettable.” ~ Andrea Lee 

“There is a certain grace that permeates the air just north of Manhattan in the stories of Gary Percesepe’s Moratorium. Percesepe’s characters are haunted, lolling through long-simmering crises that began in childhood—the deaths or disappearances of siblings and friends, or the old burn of a high school romance, when the narrator memorized a young woman’s gestures like a prayer, the question of his faith never fully answered. But the real magic occurs when Percesepe reveals humanity in all its dimensions, like when an eager student watches his famous novelist-teacher dance with a chair as his partner, a stand-in for Fitzgerald’s Daisy Buchan-an. These days are gone for Percesepe, but, lucky us—their generous revelations persist.” ~ Maureen Pilkington

“The characters in Moratorium talk to each other a lot, but they are continually aware of the terrible things that are left unsaid. “I was striving for a kind of cool, remote distance from my body,” one of them says, and this striving repeats in many of the stories, an escape from the exigencies of the flesh that the characters never achieve for long. These stories display the admirable flatness of reportage, but with an undertone of sorrow and bewilderment. The title story, like many of those that follow, is immediately gripping, a tale of family trauma that is linked inextricably to the national drama of war and civil unrest. In another, “Missionary,” the characters struggle with religion and morality (which pull them in different directions). Marriage with all its delights and horrors—the territory of Cheever and Updike—takes a central place: many of the stories focus on divorce and infidelity, never more cleverly and almost tenderly than in “In Telluride,” which features a revealing conversation on a plane among strangers who almost understand each other. This struggle to know and be known happens over and over in Moratorium, each time served up fresh to the reader with a wealth of well-chosen detail, compulsively readable and insinuatingly unforgettable.” ~ Mary Grimm

"Moratorium is a gift of a collection: thirty-eight of Gary Percesepe's best stories from as far back as 1995, originally published in such places as Story Quarterly, Mississippi Review, and Short Story American. This is a writer who knows the human heart, renders lives and relationships with compassion and candor. These stories, run through as they are with love and sex and tenderness, missed connections and loss, never fail to leave a mark. How lucky we are to have them published together for the first time. My advice: Keep this book close, read from it often, allow yourself the pleasure of experiencing the world anew through Percesepe's inimitable voice and vision." ~ Kathy Fish

“These are stories of longing, love, and tragedy, where characters earn their downfall—or their redemption. Observant, witty, revealing, and always entertaining.” ~ Joelle Fraser

“In this exquisite wonder seat, we learn to leave things out, and make as if we would go further.” ~ Ruth Margraff 

“The short stories in Gary Percesepe’s Moratorium are funny and sad, messy and sexy and always wise. This collection is a wonder.” ~ Marcy Dermansky

“Powerful, deeply engaging stories that live in their history as if the past were the present. Percesepe has the gift of recreating time and place in the way of Philip Roth and Roddy Doyle, replete...


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Available Editions

EDITION Paperback
ISBN 9781639881079
PRICE $18.99 (USD)

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Featured Reviews

Moratorium by Gary Percesepe is a collection of short stories that will have something for just about anyone. If there is a common element to them it is the sense of feeling, whether of loss, love, confusion, or whatever.

These stories range from about 24 pages to just 6 paragraphs, yet each burrows into the reader's mind as well as heart. I think one of the things I found most appealing was how we were presented with characters who are certainly flawed but they are given to us without either hyperbole or judgement. We can dwell in the situations, ponder what we think about them and their actions. And consider what we think we might do under the same circumstances.

Many of these stories are less traditional in that they almost appear to be snippets from longer stories. But they are fully realized if the reader considers inhabiting someone's thoughts during a time (whether a number of years or just a short time) as one of the goals of a short story. In other words, to use the beginning/middle/end concept, I think many of the ends here take place in the reader's minds rather than on the page. We play a large role in creating the completed story.

I recommend this to readers of short stories, though admittedly those who insist on complete and total closure will find some of the stories less satisfying. If, however, you like reading characters who stay with you after you have finished the story, you will enjoy this tremendously, and might end up with an overpopulated mind.

Reviewed from a copy made available by the publisher via NetGalley.

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Such a sense of love and loss through these stories. I really liked some but others were unsatisfactory. I like short stories to be complete but some of these appeared to be random snippets from a bigger story.

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