Phone Calls from the Dead

By Wendy Brenner
(Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, Hardcover, 9781565122451, 226pp.)

Publication Date: September 2001

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Description
A bodybuilder is charged with superhuman energy and an ability to make lightbulbs explode. A grieving father tries to communicate with his dead son via a tape recorder. A high school girl claims to have her uncle's nipple in an envelope. A thirtysomething woman is fired from her dead-end job at Manpower and comes to understand her life through the experience of a German shepherd. Four ornery squirrels, tied together by their tails, struggle to maintain their sanity.

Ten stories in all, the highly original PHONE CALLS FROM THE DEAD pulses with meaning. Alive and odd and needy, the characters in Wendy Brenner's stories grapple with the extraordinary and the ordinary, searching for answers from unlikely sources, striving to connect with each other and with something greater than themselves. Amidst a world of technological, natural, and possibly supernatural phenomena, they struggle with the most human of losses and longings.

Named one of twenty-five fiction writers to watch by Writer's Digest (along with Allegra Goodman, Jhumpa Lahiri, and William Gay), Brenner has been paving a new path through American fiction ever since her first collection, Large Animals in Everyday Life. Publishers Weekly, in a starred review, described that collection as "chock-full of pitch-perfect dialogue and dead-on descriptions . . . intoxicatingly original." In PHONE CALLS FROM THE DEAD, the stories do just that, and then go a step farther. Whether it moves you to uncontrollable laughter or to tears, you won't soon forget Wendy Brenner's work.

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