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Short Fiction
Wonderful Tricks
by Gregory Spatz

Price: $15.00
246 pages
trade paper
ISBN: 0922811555
LCCN #: 2002010874

The ten stories in this collection concern love—between father and son, mother and son, and between lovers. Spatz’s watchful and aware characters yearn for permanence in their relationships: someone to hold on to, someone to come back for. While the children in these stories navigate the nuances of estrangement—most witness the pain of one parent abandoned by the other—the adults abide the knowledge that it is not always possible to touch with our hands what we feel in our hearts. But all continue to believe in the wonderful magic that allows them to see something vanish, then reappear somewhere unexpected.

Washington State Book Award and Finalist, 2006 Glasgow Prize for Emerging Writers

"By the end of Wonderful Tricks, the reader is transformed into a sort of memory packrat, convinced that every menial detail in life can be salvaged and used for something—can be polished and turned into art. Spatz demonstrates he has the knack for that art; he has vision, and the eye for design that allows him to turn his mental piles of collected details into masterpieces. The ten stories are about love, and, fittingly, are rife with gorgeous, poetic language. Spatz is a remarkably observant and sensual writer."—Big Muddy, A Journal of the Mississippi River Valley

"Tender portraits of people caught in difficult, in-between moments ripe with choice, vignettes that can spark a recollection of the heartbreaking struggles of youth.… Eloquent prose." —The New York Times Book Review

"Spatz explores the complicated, often bewildering emotions behind various forms of love: between fathers and sons, between spouses, between lovers. The tales, suffused with a gentle melancholy, are driven not by external events, but by the characters' memories of loss and their futile search for unfettered affection. Spatz can subtly and economically depict the erosion or betrayal of love, portraying his characters' inner lives in expressive but unadorned prose. Quietly moving, resonant images of emotional push and pull."—Publishers Weekly

"Filled with unexpected insight, these stories will appeal to lovers of the form."—Booklist

"Romances that fizzle and fray, marriages gone bust, and teenagers trying to make sense of love-such are the [collection's] all-too-human delights."—Kirkus Reviews

"The stories in Wonderful Tricks are at once intricate and gripping, and they're told in prose that sings."—Elizabeth Graver, author of Unravelling and The Honey Thief

"Images that feel like our memories and characters who feel like ourselves … There are few books capable of making their readers better people by offering insight into the human heart. Wonderful Tricks is one of them."—Spokane Local Planet

"Not unlike the airy Marc Chagall figures on the book's cover, the characters in Wonderful Tricks circle ineffectually around one another and are estranged by varying degrees of emotional gravity. In a sense these are love stories, inhabited by strong-willed women and bewildered men, and by children who see more than they should, both literally and figuratively. … [Spatz's] characters long to memorize the exact sense of what it is to love and leave a place or person behind, or secretly to relinquish an adult's vocabulary, articulation and knowledge in order to bump along like a small child again."—The Inlander

"Wonderful Tricks is a magical collection of ten stories that shines a light on the holographic nature of relationships and all their hard-edged fragments, giving the reader a pleasing whole that lingers long after the book is closed. … Right down to the sentence level, Spatz successfully magnifies the realities and illusions of relationships in carefully crafted prose that satisfies."—Seattle Times


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