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Phone Calls from the Dead

This book can be downloaded and read in iBooks on your Mac or iOS device.


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.

From Publishers Weekly

Sep 10, 2001 – The narrator of "The Anomalist" one of the 10 stories gathered in Brenner's quirkily deadpan second collection (after Large Animals in Everyday Life) explains that he has remained in Florida because he once saw a zoo plaque that promised buffalo sightings "if you're at the right place at the right time." Unfortunately, he never seems to be where he's meant to be, and he has little left save the hope that great, galumphing beasts will lumber through the foreground of his life, changing him irrevocably. Like the short-circuited phone system in "Awareness," which unwittingly places calls to itself, Brenner's characters are protectively self-sufficient; like the operators who answer these phantom calls, they repeatedly experience the disappointment of an empty dial tone. Immunized against sentimentality by great doses of reason, characters have lover's quarrels that are "showdown about beauty." Intellectual effort keeps Brenner's protagonists from falling apart entirely, but again and again they are undone by small gestures(a child's grasp, a sticky kiss) emotional depth charges that cannot be denied. The stories end with tiny, unexpected epiphanies: a girl lamenting the false promise of Snoopy, a man waiting for his dead son to pick up the phone, a man rocked in the arms of a golden-hearted hooker. Brenner's witty, empathetic voice animates a tawdry, urban Florida filled with the lost and the lonely, stale lives refreshed briefly by fleeting moments of passion.
Phone Calls from the Dead
View in iTunes
  • $9.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Short Stories
  • Published: Sep 14, 2001
  • Publisher: Algonquin Books
  • Seller: Workman Publishing Co., Inc.
  • Print Length: 240 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

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