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Among the Missing
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About the Author

Dan Chaon is the acclaimed author of Fitting Ends and Other Stories. He was anthologized in Best American Short Stories 1996 and The Pushcart Prize 2000. He has been published in such magazines as Story, Ploughshares, and Triquarterly, and has received many prizes and honors including a grant from the Ohio Arts Council. He lives in Ohio with his wife and children. He is currently at work on his first novel.

Reviews

Short stories don't usually get this much hype a two-page spread in the catalog, no less but Chaon has done well with his works: they have appeared in the "Distinguished Stories" section of The Pushcart Prize six times and in Best American Short Stories three times. These pieces focus on people just trying to get by in America today. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

In the 12 quietly accomplished stories of his second collection, Chaon explores the complicated geography of human relationships, from the unintentional failures and minute betrayals of daily existence to the numbing grief caused by abandonment, disappearance or death. Specific and disquieting absences an uncle who killed himself, a mother who vanished, a friend who was kidnapped haunt the protagonists, and a series of metaphoric and literal stand-ins take the place of what's missing. In "Safety Man," a dummy intended for crime deterrence propped in the passenger seat, it looks like a male companion becomes a kind of surrogate husband for a young widow, and for her daughters, an inflatable father; in "I Demand to Know Where You're Taking Me," a woman caring for her incarcerated brother-in-law's macaw comes to loathe the bird, its ugly talk transforming it into a symbol of everything wrong and incomprehensible about him. By and large, Chaon's characters are citizens of the emotional hinterlands, lonely even when surrounded: "How did people go about falling in love, getting married, having families, living their lives?" Even those who think they know the answers recognize their powerlessness, such as the father who, looking into his son's eyes, thinks, "I am aware that hatred is a definite possibility at the end of the long tunnel of parenthood, and I suspect that there is little one can do about it." And yet these stories are neither morbid nor even particularly melancholic. Singularly dedicated to an examination of all the profundity and strangeness of the quotidian, they are, in their best moments, unsettling, moving, even beautiful. (July 3) Forecast: A jacket blurb by Lorrie Moore and a five-city author tour may help sell this understated collection, which will be respectfully reviewed but may be overlooked on bookstore shelves. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

"One of the best short story writers around . . . Dan Chaon's stories are funny, heartbreaking, beautifully written, and intelligently conceived."
-LORRIE MOORE
Author of Birds of America "AN IMPORTANT COLLECTION OF STORIES, A GENUINELY LITERARY ACCOMPLISHMENT."
-HA JIN
National Book Award--winning author "With a story like ['Big Me'] from the marvelous writer Dan Chaon, I am confronted not only with an unfathomable mystery such as that of the endurance of a single human identity over time, but also with new proof of the enduring value of telling tales in the ongoing struggle to understand those mysteries."
-MICHAEL CHABON
Pulitzer Prize-winning author of
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay

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