CAUTION Men in Trees


Title Details

Trim size: 5.500in x 8.500in



Pub Date: 10/01/2010

ISBN: 9-780-8203-3706-7

List Price: $23.95

CAUTION Men in Trees


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  • Awards

The nine stories of CAUTION Men in Trees capture the pressure, need, and frequent helplessness of people confronted with intractable reality. As suggested by the collection's epigraph from Superman-"Did you say kryptonite?"-the characters in these stories have reached a point where they realize that parts of their lives are coming undone, and that their own thoughts and actions-or, frequently, the failure to act soon enough-are the cause. Though settings and situations vary, the same sense of overwhelming urgency recurs throughout the collection. The stories reflect a world distressed by conflict and settings fraught with the occurrences of personal violence.

Against the background of the O. J. Simpson trial, a man refuses to assist in a friend's suicide and realizes that he has been avoiding many unpleasant truths about himself and his life. A son faced with his father's debilitating stroke sees that he must ultimately confront the mortality and feelings of grief that he has been concealing. In the title story, the film Bugsy and talk about the disappointing reality of pop-culture heroes set the scene for a husband's frightening confrontation with his own limitations. The shock of stark revelation combines with tightly wound chains of suggestive events to create a collection of gripping, edgy stories about characters who, however battered, survive.

Because of the dazzling verbal texture-syntax that contorts itself to serve up pleasure, his telling and idiosyncratic details, sentences full of gaps and light-it's tempting to say Spencer's forte is style. But here style maps the sensibilities of men who live in awe of turning points, unseen precipices where events and responses to them accrue and characters turn up temporarily reprieved or guilty. These are complexly crafted stories about how it feels to be complexly moral.

—Debra Monroe, author of On the Outskirts of Normal

The collection . . . is invested with . . . the stark honesty and blunt humor of [Spencer's] characters.

Publishers Weekly

Riveting and a guaranteed great read . . . belong[s] at the top of your reading list.

High Plains Literary Review

Neatly unified in theme and tone.


Spencer writes stories about men. Men who are men among men and lost among women. Men who feel useless, outmoded, impotent, and out of step . . . But men don't speak of these things, any more than they speak of the heavy burden of love. "Why does everything have to be a competition?" asks the wife of one protagonist. That question is at the heart of this award-winning collection.



Literary Award, Association for Mormon Letters

About the Author/Editor

DARRELL SPENCER is the Stocker Professor of Creative Writing at Ohio State University. He is the author of a novel, One Mile Past Dangerous Curve, and four story collections, the last of which, Bring Your Legs with You, won the Drue Heinz Literature Prize.