Moratorium

From one of America’s acclaimed poet-philosophers comes a stunning short story collection that holds delayed afterimages of people navigating love, loss, desire, and sex.

Gary Percesepe’s new book, MORATORIUM, is a gallery of intimate portraits of people who long for human connection without quite trusting it. In the title story, a war hero lashes his daughter to the banister in the lead-up to a massive anti-Vietnam war protest. A high school boy gives up on love but never Gatsby; another recalls a summer in the Adirondacks when he spurned a classmate whose family later met with tragedy.  Beautiful women select men for amusement; parents grieve children they don’t quite get; men dispatch women in order to inventory their loss. In these delicately crafted stories, a drunk speeder bonds with a cop over Uma Thurman’s feet; a grocery clerk engages in revenge sex with someone’s shattered, self-absorbed husband.

These stories are melancholy and wild; they are funny and hopeful, too. Here are people whose lives seem delayed momentarily between mounting losses—stories that reveal the way we live now. Reading this story collection, we see our world again as if for the first time.

“However he did it, these stories are simultaneously crisp and gentle, and, repeatedly, Gary Percesepe seems to have found the right viewing distance..  The language and sentence cadences sometimes nod to Hemingway, by way of Carver.  The stepping stones thrown down are literary, with a nod to (among others) Irwin Shaw, as well as toPatrick Modiano.  These stories are surprisingly, refreshingly direct, involving, and very convincing.  Really wonderful.”   — Ann Beattie