Trim size: 5.250in x 8.000in
Pub Date: 03/01/2009
List Price: $26.95
Pub Date: 11/01/2010
List Price: $26.95
In settings as different as Honolulu, Hawaii, small-town Minnesota, and Taxco, Mexico, these nine stories and a novella show blue-collar characters struggling to achieve the American Dream—and sometimes alienating friends and family as they try to upgrade their working-class pedigree. Anne Panning’s people, despite their mixed record of success, make us root for them on their sometimes heartbreaking journeys of entrepreneurship, love, and loss.
In “Tidal Wave Wedding” a tsunami in Honolulu yields surprising results for a couple on their honeymoon. In “All-U-Can-Eat,” a woman tries to stave off the investment of her inheritance into a restaurant specializing in frog legs. In the novella, “Freeze,” a teenage son’s future is forever complicated after a “life altering” accident confines his father to a wheelchair and accelerates the disintegration of his parents’ marriage. An eerie clinical replay of another accident—this one on a bicycle in Hawaii—is at the center of “What Happened,” and in the title story a college theater major gets caught up in his father’s exotic pets scheme.
Panning’s stories show an acute awareness of place, and—whether it be a seventeenth-century former-monastery in Mexico, a suburban housing development in Minnesota, or a hard-luck laundromat on the Oregon coast—each setting often tells us something about the characters who occupy them. Sometimes sad and often funny, Super America takes risks with our notions about the American Dream through characters caught between their working-class roots and grandiose visions.
The landscape in these stories—Hawaii, Minnesota, Mexico—invites us to consider an America larger than what our ordinary experience presents to us, and in doing so we discover the vastness and depth of our own humanity. With its stunning range of people and perspectives, Super America shows us how generous the short story can really be. Panning is a master of the form, and each piece in this collection is a gem.
—Samrat Upadhyay, author of The Royal Ghosts
These are flat-out wonderful stories, warm and funny and strange in all the best ways, told with tap-dancing verbal dexterity. Welcome, Anne Panning!
—Justin Cronin, author of The Summer Guest
Anne Panning is a breath of fresh air in the often overly solemn land of the American short story. I love her sense of humor, the wit and verve of her stories, which nevertheless always show real compassion for the complex lives and struggles of ordinary people. Her stories are a real delight.
—Dan Chaon, author of You Remind Me of Me
Anne Panning describes the human condition with more insight than most. . . . What makes these stories stand apart is Panning's clean, beautiful writing, her humor and importantly, her palpable empathy.
Panning's new collection radiates infectious optimism. Even when things aren't going well, her characters forge ahead, holding tight to the (mostly) modest goals. . . . Her enchanting Norahs and Alices, Tobys and Theos drag you effortlessly into their very American lives.
—New York Times Book Review
Family dynamics in all their messy complexity set a wealth of material before the gimlet eye of Anne Panning. . . . Panning writes with intelligence and humor, as well as a grasp of craft justly acknowledged here with the imprimatur of the Flannery O'Connor Award for Short Fiction.
—Boston Sunday Globe
Panning accomplishes a rare feat by creating a perfectly structured collection, nary a bad or lesser story in the bunch. . . . Panning's work is shaped by carefully winnowed clarity about American life, with humor tapped seamlessly into place.
The stories in Panning's collection take the American Dream and examine every zit and pockmark on its dirty face. . . . The skewed perspectives of Panning's narrators are as much engaging as they are disturbing.