Now in paperback, Eric Puchner's celebrated debut collection, a finalist for the New York Public Library's Young Lions Fiction Award, established him as one of our most brilliant and promising new literary voices.
Writing from an impressive range of perspectives -- men and women, children and adults, immigrants and tourists -- Puchner deftly exposes the dark, tender undersides of his characters with arresting beauty and precision. Here are people fumbling for identity in a dehumanizing world, captured in moments that are hilarious, shocking, and transcendent, sometimes all at once. Unfailingly true, surprisingly moving, and impossible to forget, these stories make up an extraordinary and strikingly original collection.
At times hilarious in his irony, Puchner also has a serious side that infuses many of these stories with an unexpected heaviness. Among the most memorable is "Children of God," a story about a seriously depressed young man who becomes the caretaker of two mentally retarded adults whose daily routine, while tragic, is also triumphant. "Mission" is the story of an ESL teacher whose need to please his students, and the immigrant community in which he lives, is so strong that it tows the line between heartbreaking and pathetic. In the end, a student's real heartbreak is so poignantly rendered that the teacher, and the reader, are left speechless.
Not all of Puchner's stories are created equal--some lack depth, and others can drag at times. Still, on the whole, Music Through the Floor is a mentally and emotionally rewarding read, and most will look forward to more from this talented newcomer. --Gisele Toueg