Large Animals in Everyday Life


Title Details

Trim size: 5.500in x 8.500in



Pub Date: 10/15/2009

ISBN: 9-780-8203-3422-6

List Price: $19.95

Large Animals in Everyday Life


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  • Description
  • Reviews

The eleven stories in Wendy Brenner's debut story collection concern people who are alone or feel themselves to be alone: survivors negotiating between logic and faith who look for mysterious messages and connections in everyday life, those sudden transformations and small miracles that occur in mundane, even absurd settings.

Brenner's stories range in setting from the rural and southern (a rotating country music bar, a dog track/jai alai compound, a grocery store, a natural cold springs sinkhole) to the urban and high-tech (absurdly bureaucratic companies and academic departments and a food irradiation plant). Often young and tough women seeking to hone their survival sensibilities, Brenner's characters are a mix of the everyday and the fantastic: frustrated secretaries and scientists, a young supermodel, precocious children, fierce plumbers and mechanics, a psychic grandmother, an unhappy lottery winner, a desperate grocery-store mascot in an animal suit. And then there are the animals-real ones of all kinds who turn up at unlikely moments and often seem to be trying to help.

Large Animals in Everyday Life is worthy of a prize named for Flannery O'Connor. Like that of her benefactress, Brenner's work is disturbed, taut, funny, and wise. Better than that, it's good.

—Padgett Powell, author of Typical

The characters in Brenner's sharp, witty debut story collection-winner of the Flannery O'Connor Award for Short Fiction-come out springing, with voices as stimulating as a blast of cold air in the freezer aisle of a Winn-Dixie. . . . Chock-full of pitch-perfect dialogue and dead-on descriptions. Brenner's stories, intoxicatingly original, are precise life studies that linger uncannily in the upper right-hand corner of the mind.

Publishers Weekly

Brenner is especially adept at portraying bright twenty-somethings consigned to jobs in the service sector, humanities majors and would-be artists who seek love but don't count on finding it. . . . Brenner's achievement in these ironic, understanding tales is making sure that even the small losses her characters suffer do not fail to move us.

—Polly Morrice, New York Times Book Review

Not merely clever but smart, not merely intriguing but actually meaningful. . . . We have nothing to fear for the future of the short story.

—Alex Chisholm, Boston Book Review

An impressive first collection. . . . Valuable, regenerative human desires and sympathies are expressed and discovered in this collection.


Brenner breathes life into very ordinary people. . . . These stories are at once witty and graceful, and their little sorrows are delivered with a light touch.

Library Journal

Her prose is at times as moving and mean as broken bottles. . . . Brenner is a writer of large talent.

—Diane Roberts, Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Quirky, challenging tales and an impressive debut.

Kirkus Reviews

About the Author/Editor

WENDY BRENNER is the author of two books of short fiction, Large Animals in Everyday Life, which won the Flannery O'Connor Award, and Phone Calls From the Dead. Her stories and essays have appeared in Best American Essays, Best American Magazine Writing, New Stories From the South, Oxford American, The Sun, Allure, Travel & Leisure, Seventeen, Guernica, and elsewhere. She is the recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship and teaches writing at the University of North Carolina, Wilmington.