Problems with People
By David Guterson
Knopf Publishing Group, Hardcover, 9780385351485, 163pp.
Publication Date: June 3, 2014
List Price: $25.95*
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Ranging from youth to old age, the voices that inhabit "Problems with People" offer tender, unexpected, and always tightly focused accounts of our quest to understand each other, individually, and as part of a political and historical moment. These stories are shot through with tragedy--the long-ago loss of a young boyfriend, a son's death at sea; poignant reflections upon cultural and personal circumstances--whether it is being Jewish, overweight and single, or a tourist in a history-haunted land; and paradigmatic questions about our sense of reality and belonging. Spanning diverse geographies--all across America, and in countries as distant as Nepal and South Africa--these stories showcase David Guterson's signature gifts for characterization, psychological nuance, emotional and moral suspense, and evocations of small-town life and the natural world. They celebrate the ordinary yet brightening surprises that lurk within the dramas of our daily lives, as well as the return of a contemporary American master to the form that launched his astonishing literary career.
“Succinct, ambitious . . . People struggle to connect with each other in these 10 stories from the author of Snow Falling on Cedars. Some return to Guterson’s customary Pacific Northwest, but elsewhere he ranges abroad, with settings including Kathmandu, Berlin and South Africa. Though Guterson’s characters differ in their ages, locations, and worries, all of their stories turn on the thin lines that separate friendship from acquaintance, and the strange from the familiar . . . Guterson reminds us of the boundless potential of everyday encounters.” —Publishers Weekly
“Deeply affecting . . . A strong sense of anonymity and isolation connects the characters in this collection . . . Missed signals, isolation, distancing oneself from social contact—all describe the emotional core of Guterson’s narratives. A haunting collection from a thoughtful storyteller.” —Donna Bettencourt, Library Journal (starred review)