The triumphant, long-awaited return of a writer of remarkable gifts: in this collection of richly imagined stories—her first new work in twenty years—the master of short fiction delivers a diverse suite of stories about men and women confronting their vulnerabilities in times of transition and challenge.
Beginning in the 1980s, Elizabeth Tallent’s work, appeared in some of our most prestigious literary publications, including The New Yorker, Esquire, and Harper’s. Marked by its quiet power and emotional nuance, her fiction garnered widespread praise.
Now, at long last, Tallent returns with a new collection of diverse, thematically linked, and deeply powerful stories that confirm her enduring gift for capturing relationships at their moment of transformation: marriages breaking apart, people haunted by memories of old love and reaching haltingly toward new futures. Mendocino Fire explore moments of fracture and fragmentation; it limns the wilderness of our inner psyche and brilliantly evokes the electric tension of deep emotion. In these pages, Tallent explores expectations met and thwarted, and our never-ending quest to avoid being alone.
With this breathtaking collection, Elizabeth Tallent cements her rightful place in the literary pantheon beside her contemporaries Lorrie Moore, Ann Beattie, and Louise Erdrich. Visceral and surprising, profound yet elemental, Mendocino Fire is a welcome visit with a wise and familiar friend.
Praise For Mendocino Fire: Stories…
— San Francisco Chronicle
“Elizabeth Tallent is, and always has been, a vivid, meticulous, and astutely inviting writer. These new stories vitally tell us how things are for us, in the most acute and memorable ways. Her ear is perfect; her gaze searing and unmistakable.”
— Richard Ford
“Enchanting. . . . Immediately engaging. . . . The ability to create characters who force us to withhold judgment and leave us gasping at their absolute, solid reality isn’t the result of any special kindness or goodness on the part of the author.
— New York Times Book Review
“Elizabeth Tallent’s style is so distinctive, and it’s the kind of writing I so enjoy, never obvious, full of complex thought and perception, so boldly ambitious.”
— Tessa Hadley, author of Clever Girl
“In her fourth collection, Tallent explores the spaces between people through 10 expertly crafted stories. . . . Tallent’s collection offers a smart, thought-provoking study of desire and disappointment.”
— Publishers Weekly
“Tallent’s assured voice is a pleasure to follow through this book. . . . An ambitious and wide-ranging set of stories that creates empathy for most of its characters due to Tallent’s generous imagination.”
— Kirkus Reviews
“Driving, furious, erotic, gilded, the sentences flying at you like arrows...Her book is a meditation on the state of marriage.”
— Tin House
“Mendocino Fire throws sparks.”
— Vanity Fair
“Tallent’s characters are most nearly themselves, because of or in spite of love, and that is the rich truth of this book.”
“[Tallent writes] with a keen, quicksilver appreciation of her characters’ inner lives and with a poet’s eye for the luminous, skewed details of everyday life.”
— New York Times
“Everything about Tallent’s work speaks of its delicacy and precision...brilliant.”
— Chicago Tribune
“Excellent. . . . In these stories, [Tallent] continues to explore relationships on the brink of transformation.”
— San Jose Mercury News
“A good short story is a visceral thing, but it is rare to find stories as elegant, as perfectly made as Elizabeth Tallent’s, that put a scare into us. Tallent is a magician: her characters get sawed in half by life and stand up whole.”
— Valerie Trueblood, author of Search Party and Seven Loves
“The characters in these stories have been around the block a few times. They are often exes. But they are no match for Tallent, who, in a finely articulated style, shows herself to be quite deft at throwing monkey wrenches into the machinery of complacence.”
— Carol Anshaw, author of Carry the One
“The first pleasure here is the glitter and darkness of the prose only Tallent can produce; but the profounder gift in these stories is the author’s empathy, a tireless empathy, her knowledge of her characters’ peculiar entitlements and pangs and assumptions.”
— Louis B. Jones, author of Innocence and Ordinary Money
Harper, 9780062410344, 272pp.
Publication Date: October 20, 2015
About the Author
Elizabeth Tallent, author of a novel and four story collections, has appeared in The Threepenny Review, The Paris Review, The New Yorker, Tin House, and ZYZZYVA as well as in the Best American Short Stories, Best American Essays, O. Henry Prize, and Pushcart Prize award anthologies. She teaches in Stanford’s Creative Writing Program and lives with her wife, an antiques dealer, on the Mendocino Coast.