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Cover for You Would Have Told Me Not To

You Would Have Told Me Not To


Christopher Coake


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Other Editions of This Title:
Paperback (7/27/2021)


These stories (and one novella) arrive in the midst of the #Metoo movement. They examine the fallout from failed relationships between men and women, relationships that have crumbled under the weight of betrayal, misplaced hopes, illness—and in particular, from masculinity at its most toxic and misguided. A man in his mid-thirties receives a call from a woman he barely knew who informs him that a girl he bedded and dumped in high school has died of cancer. Another man who had an affair and left a woman without any warning finds himself working on a demolition job with a younger man who might be their son. Another man, obese for years, is left by his wife, loses weight and, drunk with the power of being finally fit, disastrously tries to reconnect with his former spouse. And in the title story of the collection, a woman summoned to the bedside of her son who has suffered a gunshot wound must finally come to terms with the serial infidelities of her charming ex-husband. These fictions ask very contemporary questions: how do ex-spouses learn to live again in proximity to one another; how do we make peace with our bodies and their own worst impulses; how do we learn to turn and face, full-on, the worst mistakes of our younger selves? 

Praise For You Would Have Told Me Not To: Stories

"Engaging. . .rich prose and sharp dialogue. With humor and heft, Coake hammers home the ways the past can boomerang to change the present." — Publishers Weekly

"even sharp stories that dwell on relationships both good and bad…tensions that grow increasingly complex. . . Coake can make simple conflicts sing."
Kirkus Reviews

"You Would Have Told Me Not To is populated with people so real, I found myself smiling at their triumphs, laughing at their jokes, and wishing I could intervene when they inevitably screwed up. It’s the type of book that stays with you long after you put it down." — Shari Goldhagen, author of In Some Other World, Maybe

"You Would Have Told Me Not To proves that there's no such thing as nothing left to lose. Men and women at the ends of their ropes rekindle romances, become grandparents, make amends, and find—or fail to find—redemption in seven stories both exquisitely written and deeply felt. These devastating, beguiling stories are must-reads for fans of Charles D'Ambrosio or Stuart Dybek." — David James Poissant, author of Lake Life

"I've been waiting for years for a new collection by Christopher Coake, and the stories and novella in You Would Have Told Me Not To more than deliver. Dark and funny, urgent and unsettling, these  beautiful stories manage to feel both completely of the moment and utterly timeless. This book gutted me. A masterful new book by a writer at the top of his game." — Molly Antopol, author of The Un-Americans

"It's been fifteen years since we've had a new collection from Christopher Coake, who I consider one of our best American short story writers, on par with Tobias Wolff and Andre Dubus. What a wonderful gift to have this gripping, beautiful, emotionally raw new work." — Dan Chaon, author of Ill Will

"The stories in You Would Have Told Me Not To read like miniature thrillers, even when they stay firmly within the realm of the everyday. They are expertly suspenseful, emotionally powerful, and delightfully dark. The last one, in particular, punched me in the heart. I loved this book." — Kristin Roupenian, author of You Know You Want This: “Cat Person" and Other Stories 

“With the craft of Cheever and the heart of Chekov, Christopher Coake’s You Would Have Told Me Not To deftly explores and deconstructs masculinity, and reminds us why he is a master of the form. A rare feat: a book of the moment, and for the ages.” — Nick White, author of Sweet and Low

"You Would Have Told Me Not To is populated with people so real, I found myself smiling at their triumphs, laughing at their jokes, and wishing I could intervene when they inevitably screwed up. It’s the type of book that stays with you long after you put it down." — Shari Goldhagen, author of In Some Other World, Maybe

"Only Christopher Coake could have shown us so clearly the true range of the human heart, and infused these tales—centered on the relationships that both define and destroy us—with such yearning and dread. The stories collected here are contemporary and urgent and are classics of the form." — David Treuer, author of Rez Life, An Indian’s Journey Through Reservation Life

"What a balm to again immerse myself in the short(ish) fiction of Christopher Coake, easily among the form's contemporary virtuosos. Coake's grim, expansive, elegant, and always surprising stories (and one novella) grapple with the aftershocks of careless mistakes and unforgivable  transgressions. A singular collection by a writer in top form."
Claire Vaye Watkins, author of Gold Fame Citrus

Praise for Christopher Coake: “I’ve read more than a thousand stories a year for the past eight years and nothing, nothing, has surpassed the work of Mr. Coake. You will be stunned, you will have tears in your eyes, and you will remember these stories for the rest of your life.” — Otto Penzler, The Best American Mystery Stories, on the story collection We’re in Trouble

“Sometimes when you’re reading these stories, you forget to breathe... They’re beautifully written, and they have a bottom, but they’re never dull and they all contain striking and dramatic narrative ideas.”  — Nick Hornby, author of A Long Way Down and High Fidelity, on the short story collection We’re in Trouble

“Uncanny, clear-eyed... [Coake] is wildly engaging as he explores one theme—love in the face of harrowing death (or near-death)—from seemingly every angle.”  — Entertainment Weekly on We’re in Trouble

“Coake has... done something both alarming and amazing: He has taken his proximity to mortality’s horrors, mined them for their truest nature, married them to a sure hand for storytelling and presented us all with a debut book of stories, We’re in Trouble, that is both beautiful in its elegance and merciless in its intensity.” — Star Tribune (Minneapolis)

“When I finished the last page of Christopher’s Coake’s amazing new novel, I set the book down with a sense of wonder. There’s a ghost in this story, to be sure, but this remarkable author is less concerned with the supernatural than with the all-too-too real specters that haunt us all-the ghosts of our former selves, the ghosts of the lives we might have lived had just a few things turned out differently. You Came Back will stay with me forever. What an incredible writer.” — Jennifer Finney Boylan, author of She’s Not There on You Came Back

Delphinium, 9781883285906, 240pp.

Publication Date: July 28, 2020

About the Author

Christopher Coake is the author of the novel You Came Back (2012) and the story collection We’re in Trouble (2005), which won the PEN/Robert Bingham Fellowship for a first work of fiction. His new collection, You Would Have Told Me Not To, will be published in 2020 by Delphinium. In 2007 he was named one of Granta's Best Young American Novelists. His short fiction has been anthologized in collections such as Best American Mystery Stories 2004; The Best American Noir of the Century; and Gutted: Beautiful Horror Stories; and has been published in numerous literary journals. A native of Indiana, Coake received his MFA in fiction from the Ohio State University. He is an Associate Professor of English at the University of Nevada, Reno, where he directs the MFA program in creative writing. He lives in Reno with his wife, Stephanie Lauer, and their two dogs.