Carrying the Torch: Stories (Hardcover)
The stories in this collection occupy a world at once as familiar as a suburban backyard or a southern college’s hallowed football field and as strange as a man who buys Savannah, Georgia, and tries to turn it into the perfect Southern city as part of his attempt to win back his estranged wife. The fictional territory of Carrying the Torch, is in short, Brock Clarke’s, one in which the surreal and the hilarious share a neighborhood with the painfully real and the sweetly ironic. Here readers will encounter characters dislocated by work and love, by huge losses and life’s small dramas, men and women who have migrated South in search of redemption—or at least in the hope of leaving the worst behind. In these tales about what people try to leave and find they can’t, about the lies we tell the people we love and the myths we create to make life livable, Marly Swick cites an “exceptional originality” as well as an “amazing emotional resonance, a haunting quality.” “Notable for their balance of sentiment and restraint, the music of their language, and the haunting human longing that coexists with the irony and the humor,” as Lee Martin remarks, these remarkable stories carry forward a tradition reaching from Flannery O’Connor to John Cheever and Donald Barthelme—and arrive at a brilliance all their own.
About the Author
Brock Clarke is an assistant professor of English at the University of Cincinnati. He is the author of the novel "The Ordinary White Boy" and of "What We Won't Do," a short story collection that won the 2002 Mary McCarthy Prize for Short Fiction and most recently, "An Arsonist's Guide to Writers' Homes in New England."
“Brock Clarke’s latest short story collection is his most compelling, balanced, and well-executed offering to date. . . . Carrying the Torch is above all a series of earned moments that always feel genuine. Undoubtedly, this collection cements Clarke’s place among the exciting new voices in American fiction.”—Lydia Wilkes, Indiana Review
“It takes a uniquely sympathetic vision to render contemporary suburban America without sentimentality or condescension, and Clarke has it. The stories in Carrying the Torch are full of sympathy—complex, hard-won, and real.”—Matthew Purdy, Iron Horse Literary Review
"There exist but a few undeniable truths in regards to writing short stories, I believe. Any forthcoming textbook needs to include Carrying the Torch in the ‘Make the Miraculous Seem Everyday, the Everyday Miraculous’ chapter. Brock Clarke’s stories are exquisitely smart and funny and honest. I promise that these characters will pull you into their lives faster than a junkyard magnet attracts paper clips. Brock Clarke’s a writer’s writer."—George Singleton, author of Why Dogs Chase Cars
"Nobody carries the torch passed by John Cheever more ably and wittily than Brock Clarke in these funny, dark, and knowing stories."—David Gates, author of Jernigan and The Wonders of the Invisible World