The seventeen stories in this highly acclaimed collection are unflinching in their honesty, moving in their wisdom, by turns tough and surprisingly tender in their clear-eyed depiction of lives lived on the margins. With heartbreaking urgency, a woman recalls her all-consuming affair with the reckless lover who ultimately abandoned her by the side of a highway. A lonely cave diver risks everything for the dangerous thrill of the dive. Days away from forced retirement, a cosmetic-counter clerk with a rare skin disease ponders her future. A neglected boy’s fascination with reptiles takes a sinister turn. A woman finds herself telling one lie after another to both her troubled girlfriend and to the man she’s been sleeping with. These stories hum with remarkable tension as they vividly capture both the maddening confusion and the unexpected beauty of ordinary people rushing headlong into life.
About Elise Levine
Elise Levine is the highly acclaimed author of a collection of stories, Driving Men Mad, and the novel Requests and Dedications. Her fiction has appeared in The Journey Prize Anthology, Coming Attractions, and Concrete Forest. A Canadian from Toronto, Levine is currently living in Chicago, where her husband, a composer, is finishing a Ph.D.
“Reading Elise Levine is akin to a wild ride down a dark road at night.… Bold and startling.…Precipitous and exhilarating.” –Globe and Mail
“One of Canada’s finest fiction writers.… Levine demonstrates a kind of incandescent knowing about human affairs which she deploys in stunningly nuanced passages.… A sensitive, cagey dominatrix of literary form and human psychology.” –George Elliott Clarke, Mail Star
“A dazzling wordsmith, a lexical tease, Levine is like a kid let loose in a leaf pile, kicking up words for the sheer joy of watching them spin.” –Toronto Star
“A cutting-edge literary sensation.” –NOW
“Audacious.…There’s hardly a word in [these stories] that doesn’t weigh heavily, or doesn’t have a bristling edge to it.” –Toronto Star
“Levine’s vivid language and unflinching exploration of people living on the edge of society will stay with you long after each story is read.…The voices in Driving Men Mad sing as well as shock.… Levine is unafraid to experiment with language, voice, and form. Her explorations of humanity and the adventurous spirit of her work will keep the reader hooked, hesitating to turn the page but unable to resist the pull of her prose.” –St. John’s Evening Telegram
“Levine’s writing is adventurous and brave.… Tautly constructed and rigorously controlled.…” –Quill & Quire
“Taut and direct, Elise Levine’s writing compresses the distance between art and audience, drawing a reader experientially through her fiction. Levine is a visceral imagist. Her fiction renders event indistinguishable from emotion, affecting the gut as fully as the mind.…The tension that Levine’s writing evokes remains unresolved, extending beyond the page of her fictions.” –Ottawa Citizen
“No reader can make his or her way through these stories and retain any kind of complacency.” –Calgary Herald
“Levine exposes the roughness and the crude pain of life. It’s a rare writer who can write bluntly about the raw side of life while subtly leaving room for her readers to make their own, often disturbing connections.” –Books in Canada