Beneath the Bonfire: Stories

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Nickolas Butler's debut novel, Shotgun Lovesongs, has become an international bestseller and won numerous accolades, including France's Prix PAGE/America. Now, in Beneath the Bonfire, he demonstrates his talent for portraying "a place and its people with such love that you'll find yourself falling for them, too" (Josh Weil, author of The Great Glass Sea).

Young couples gather to participate in an annual "chainsaw party," cutting down trees for firewood in anticipation of the winter. A group of men spend a weekend hunting for mushrooms in the wilderness where they grew up and where some still find themselves trapped. An aging environmentalist takes out his frustration and anger on a singular, unsuspecting target. One woman helps another get revenge against a man whose crime extends far beyond him to an entire community. Together, the ten stories in this dazzling, surprising collection evoke a landscape that will be instantly recognizable to anyone who has traveled the back roads and blue highways of America, and they completely capture the memorable characters who call it home.

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About the author

Nickolas Butler was born in Allentown, Pennsylvania, and raised in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. His writings have appeared in Narrative Magazine, Ploughshares, The Kenyon Review Online, The Progressive, The Christian Science Monitor, and elsewhere. A bestseller in both the United States and France, his debut novel, Shotgun Lovesongs, received the Midwest Booksellers Choice Award, the Great Lakes Great Reads Award, and France's Prix PAGE/America. Butler graduated from the University of Wisconsin–Madison before attending the Iowa Writers' Workshop and currently lives in Wisconsin with his wife and their two children.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Macmillan
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Published on
May 5, 2015
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Pages
272
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ISBN
9781466875531
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Language
English
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Genres
Fiction / Literary
Fiction / Short Stories (single author)
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Read Aloud
Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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From a National Book Award winner, “a volume of short stories that belongs alongside Raymond Carver . . . brilliant, moving, often gloriously funny” (The San Francisco Chronicle).

Spanning nearly thirty years in the career of the New York Times–bestselling author of Dog Soldiers, the stories collected here explore, acutely and powerfully, the humanity that unites us.
 
In “Miserere,” a widowed librarian with an unspeakable secret undertakes an unusual and grisly role in the anti-abortion crusade. In his classic story “Helping,” the author examines a moment of climactic confrontation in the life of Elliot, a therapist beset by his own demons. “Under the Pitons” is the harrowing story of a reluctant participant in a drug-running scheme and the grim and unexpected consequences of his involvement. The title story is a riveting account of the tangled lines that weave the relationship of a father and his grown daughter.
 
In these stories, Robert Stone’s characters tug at the edges of experience, laying bare the truths that keep us alive.
 
“Stone, one of contemporary fiction’s big talents, probes his characters to the existential core. At stake in these dazzling stories is nothing less than his characters’ souls.” —People
 
“The landscapes of drug addiction and war and its aftermath are depicted with rueful wit and furious intensity in these seven strongly imagined tales. . . . Combining Hemingway-like vigor with Kafkaesque despair . . . Stone has few contemporary peers, and no superiors.” —Kirkus Reviews
NATIONAL BESTSELLER

"Impressively original." —The New York Times

"Sparkles in every way. A love letter to the open lonely American heartland...A must-read." —People

"The kind of book that restores your faith in humanity." —Toronto Star

Welcome to Little Wing.

It's a place like hundreds of others, nothing special, really. But for four friends—all born and raised in this small Wisconsin town—it is home. And now they are men, coming into their own or struggling to do so.

One of them never left, still working the family farm that has been tilled for generations. But others felt the need to move on, with varying degrees of success. One trades commodities, another took to the rodeo circuit, and one of them even hit it big as a rock star. And then there's Beth, a woman who has meant something special in each of their lives.

Now all four are brought together for a wedding. Little Wing seems even smaller than before. While lifelong bonds are still strong, there are stresses—among the friends, between husbands and wives. There will be heartbreak, but there will also be hope, healing, even heroism as these memorable people learn the true meaning of adult friendship and love.

Seldom has the American heartland been so richly and accurately portrayed. Though the town may have changed, the one thing that hasn't is the beauty of the Wisconsin farmland, the lure of which, in Nickolas Butler's hands, emerges as a vibrant character in the story. Shotgun Lovesongs is that rare work of fiction that evokes a specific time and place yet movingly describes the universal human condition. It is, in short, a truly remarkable book—a novel that once read will never be forgotten.

The National Book Award–winning story collection from the author of The Orphan Master’s Son offers something rare in fiction: a new way of looking at the world.

“MASTERFUL.”—The Washington Post     “ENTRANCING.”—O: The Oprah Magazine     “PERCEPTIVE AND BRAVE.”—The New York Times

Throughout these six stories, Pulitzer Prize winner Adam Johnson delves deep into love and loss, natural disasters, the influence of technology, and how the political shapes the personal, giving voice to the perspectives we don’t often hear.

In “Nirvana,” a programmer whose wife has a rare disease finds solace in a digital simulacrum of the president of the United States. In “Hurricanes Anonymous,” a young man searches for the mother of his son in a Louisiana devastated by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. “George Orwell Was a Friend of Mine” follows a former warden of a Stasi prison in East Germany who vehemently denies his past, even as pieces of it are delivered in packages to his door. And in the unforgettable title story, Johnson returns to his signature subject, North Korea, depicting two defectors from Pyongyang who are trying to adapt to their new lives in Seoul, while one cannot forget the woman he left behind.

WINNER OF THE STORY PRIZE • A NEW YORK TIMES NOTABLE BOOK 

NAMED ONE OF THE TEN BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY The Miami Herald • San Francisco Chronicle • USA Today 

AND ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY The Washington Post  • NPR • Marie Claire • St. Louis Post-Dispatch • BuzzFeed • The Daily Beast • Los Angeles Magazine • The Independent • BookPage • Kirkus Reviews

“Remarkable . . . Adam Johnson is one of America’s greatest living writers.”—The Huffington Post

“Haunting, harrowing . . . Johnson’s writing is as rich in compassion as it is in invention, and that rare combination makes Fortune Smiles worth treasuring.”—USA Today

“Fortune Smiles [blends] exotic scenarios, morally compromised characters, high-wire action, rigorously limber prose, dense thickets of emotion, and, most critically, our current techno-moment.”—The Boston Globe
 
“Johnson’s boundary-pushing stories make for exhilarating reading.”—San Francisco Chronicle
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