Ate It Anyway
Trim size: 5.000in x 8.000in
Pub Date: 10/15/2012
List Price: $19.95
Ate It Anyway
In the limbo bounded by rebellion and resignation, belonging and solitude, Ed Allen's middle Americans seem to be either freely adrift or uncomfortably vested in an exit strategy wholly inadequate for their circumstances. These sixteen darkly humorous stories gauge the tension between what we really feel and what we outwardly express, what we should do and what we manage to get done.
In "Celibacy-by-the-Atlantic," Phil negotiates a lingering, low-intensity regret brought on by the annual family get-together at his parents' beach house, where memories of his aimless, privileged adolescence mingle with forebodings of his aimless, privileged middle age. In "A Lover's Guide to Hospitals," Carl lies in bed, pining over a stillborn romance through a moody, post-op haze of painkillers. As a consoling needle through the heart, the object of Carl's unrequited affections also turns out to be his nurse.
In "Burt Osborne Rules the World," a precocious boy ponders his childhood in "a world protected against anything you could imagine doing to make it more interesting." Sensing that only more of the same awaits him as an adult, Burt charts a different course-as a class clown with a truly toxic sense of mischief. Others, like Lydia in "Ralph Goes to Mexico," assert their individuality more effortlessly, for they're just too naturally odd to be cowed by convention. Lydia's dilemma is whether she should have her leukemic cat stuffed and mounted or turned into a hat after he dies.
These lyrical tales celebrate the ordinary-and the not so ordinary-with a flourish of Nabokovian wit that combines grandeur, kitsch, and the author's broad empathy with his characters.
I don't know another writer quite like Ed Allen . . . brilliant, offbeat . . . an insider giving us the lowdown on American life.
—X. J. Kennedy, author of The Lords of Misrule: Poems, 1992-2001
Ate It Anyway is a very thoughtful, funny book, written by a mature and compelling author. The stories are loaded with beautiful sentences and very smart insights, impressive especially because the voice within them seems truly unique and distinct.
—Antonya Nelson, author of Female Trouble
Allen is a genius at rendering the second-rate colleges, chain hotels, and franchise restaurants of America's suburbs and Flyover. Amidst all the shrink-wrap and cinderblock and artificial grass, he conjures up people and incidents who leave him (and us) terribly sad, hilariously amused, and, quite often, suffused with unbearable wonder and longing. This is a long-overdue collection from an exceptionally imaginative writer.
—Thomas Mallon, author of Henry and Clara
Ed Allen writes in a rich, hearty style about middlebrow Americans living lives of spiritual and cultural improverishment. In case you missed my point, that's three areas of value bound up together: wealth, mediocrity, and poverty. Would the reader expect the resulting brew to be a disaster? Far from it. Allen zeroes in on the particulars of our shared culture with a perspective that reminds me of nothing so much as the pop-influenced writing of the New Journalists of the late 1960s; the early work of Tom Wolfe comes to mind.
They have such an irresistible voice and such a rich rhythm of observation they transform the mere stuff of the external world into shimmering significance . . . What motivates Ed Allen's characters is often puzzling and perverse, and therefore strangely familiar and powerfully irresistible to us.
—Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
In this collection of seventeen stories memory is potent, senses are sharp, and insight is keen. . . . What lingers are Allen's succinct word pictures and vividly crystallized moments.