Hall of Small Mammals: Stories (Paperback)

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Description


A wild, inventive ride of a short story collection from a distinctive new American storyteller.

The stories in Thomas Pierce’s Hall of Small Mammals take place at the confluence of the commonplace and the cosmic, the intimate and the infinite. A fossil-hunter, a comedian, a hot- air balloon pilot, parents and children, believers and nonbelievers, the people in these stories are struggling to understand the absurdity and the magnitude of what it means to exist in a family, to exist in the world.

In “Shirley Temple Three,” a mother must shoulder her son’s burden—a cloned and resurrected wooly mammoth who wreaks havoc on her house, sanity, and faith. In “The Real Alan Gass,” a physicist in search of a mysterious particle called the “daisy” spends her days with her boyfriend, Walker, and her nights with the husband who only exists in the world of her dreams, Alan Gass.  Like the daisy particle itself—“forever locked in a curious state of existence and nonexistence, sliding back and forth between the two”—the stories in Thomas Pierce’s Hall of Small Mammals are exquisite, mysterious, and inextricably connected.

From this enchanting primordial soup, Pierce’s voice emerges—a distinct and charming testament of the New South, melding contemporary concerns with their prehistoric roots to create a hilarious, deeply moving symphony of stories.

About the Author


Thomas Pierce was born and raised in South Carolina. His stories have appeared in The New Yorker, The Atlantic, Oxford American, and elsewhere. A recipient of the National Book Foundation’s 5 Under 35 award, he is a graduate of the University of Virginia creative writing program and lives in Virginia with his wife and daughter.

Praise For…


Praise for Hall of Small Mammals

Ridiculously good… These stories never drift vaguely off into the ether. They are beautifully built, and their author has an especially deft way of finding just the right final flourish…. [There’s a] feeling of being inside a bubble while reading Mr. Pierce, and it is a bubble you won’t want to leave. This is such a fine collection that there’s not a stinker in the bunch…. Mr. Pierce’s originality, inventiveness, questing spiritual intelligence and animal fixation aren’t easy to do justice to in the limited space here. But they’re irrefutably good reasons to discover him for yourself.” – Janet MaslinNew York Times

"It will be tempting, but hard, for readers to choose a favorite among the stories here... Rich and complicated... These stories have that merry, postmodern humor, but also a classical love of real human emotion." -- Rebecca LeeNew York Times Book Review

“A debut collection that reads like the work of a much older, established fiction master. The stories in Pierce's book explore the ordinary in the otherworldly, the surreal in the mundane, and the results are stunning and unexpected.... Pierce is an endlessly incisive and engaging writer. It's a book full of wisdom and emotion, with stories that explore what it means to live and die in a world filled with invisible things." – NPR

“Pierce mines the mysterious rift between fantasy and reality with the intricate skill of an archaeologist and the sheer wonder of an imaginative child.” —Elle

“Pierce’s stories are beautifully written and suffused with mystery.” – Emily St. John MandelThe Millions

"[C]ompulsively addictive and delightfully strange.... Pierce's menagerie of colorful characters equally inspires and amuses. The book is expertly paced (there isn't a dud in this eclectic bunch) and many of the stories' endings—some sinister, some melancholic, others heartfelt—prompt momentary reflection, though thankfully not always in ways that are expected." 
Publishers Weekly, STARRED review

“It’s thrilling to find a writer with an imagination as wild and wonderful as Thomas Pierce. It’s even more impressive to see how Pierce builds upon the initial conceit of his stories, the way he follows the thread of that weirdness toward something utterly unique and altogether human. This is a fantastic, rewarding book of stories.”
Kevin Wilson, author of Tunneling to the Center of the Earth and The Family Fang

“We’re in the realm of the uncertain here, immersed in a view of life that teeters on the edge of parable as an organizing principle for this amazing collection of stories about the possible, the probable, the unknown, the ridiculous, the astonishing, the embarrassing, and also the just plain heartbreaking awkwardness of all kinds of hope and yearning, as we read about life lived in an echo chamber of the past that is now moving rocket-like into the future. It’s a brilliant group of stories fueled by its inherent metaphors. Thomas Pierce has a delicate, shaping presence in all these stories, which are sure to be talked about, admired, and paraphrased nervously, because they take us out of the comfort of our known world.”
Ann Beattie

“This is a book that feels adventurous in scope, but is classically and skillfully wrought, even as it throws us into a future of genetic experimentation, loss, and change.  Humorous, absurd, and smart, Pierce's collection doesn't just give us the delicate, dangerous future, but also explores what it means to be a flawed, feeling human living within it - as the keeper of a resurrected species, a physicist with an active dream life, a bone collector.  A book that rewards and earns deep and repeated reading.”
Megan Mayhew Bergman, author of Almost Famous Women and Birds of a Lesser Paradise

"Thomas Pierce describes a world we may soon inhabit, where science advances but mystery endures. Extinct species are revived on TV, and near-extinct species are the local zoo’s sellout draw; a new infectious disease defies attempts to identify or contain it, and physicists everywhere quest to identify a theoretical entity called the daisy particle. In this world, fractured families and lost souls — Pierce’s deeper interests — are the norm. Wry, wrenching, and elegant."
Brian Kimberling, author of Snapper

“This arresting debut collection of short fiction from a gifted new writergracefully renders the textures of the American South and the indefatigable people who live there…. Thomas Pierce’s debut collection, Hall of Small Mammals, taps the aquifer of Southern literature but blends in supernatural elements with a light, deft touch, echoes of García Márquez among the biscuits and magnolias.... Pierce knows his people well, connecting their conflicts to a deeper narrative about the human condition…. With its elegant prose and revelatory insights, Hall of Small Mammals announces a vivid and engaging new voice.” – Minneapolis Star Tribune

Hall of Small Mammals is a skilled collection of explorations on what it means to believe. Pierce teases faith and science out into myriad scenarios, and highlights our principal desire to put our belief into worldviews that make sense of what we see. Each story is a journey into a different kind of observation. Hall of Small Mammals shows us that it might be our need to explain which makes us most human.” – Bookslut

 “I was floored by Pierce’s balance between authoritative control over his craft while maintaining an authentically quirky sensibility…Pierce shows reverence for the Southern Gothic tradition on which he draws, while also bringing in a fresh dose of modern irreverence. He’s a huge talent — one to keep an eye on.” —Bustle

 “[Pierce] balances the incredible incident in each story with powerful — and emotionally involving — insights into his characters.” —Columbus Dispatch

 “Pierce clearly has talent to burn. A promising debut that studies hard-luck types from new and provocative perspectives.” —Kirkus Reviews
Product Details
ISBN: 9781594634055
ISBN-10: 159463405X
Publisher: Riverhead Books
Publication Date: January 12th, 2016
Pages: 304
Language: English

How to read more

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How To Read More

If you love reading, but for some reason you read less and less, know that everything is fine. It happens.
Our lives today have so many things that distract us - how can we not put books away when all these movies, TV shows, YouTube videos, social networks and endless surfing in online stores are around ...
Yes, it's really hard to resist, but you certainly can!

In this article, we want to share with you some tips to read more often and more successfully.
These are some notes and some practices that we have collected for our SUNDOG BOOKS readers club.
And maybe it will bring more books into your life!

Why do we want/need to read more?

To start reading more, you have to understand why you need it.
And you will be surprised, but your goals can be quite varied:

- for work
If you read a lot on duty, then you definitely need to speed up the process. The logic here is simple: read faster → work faster → more time for books for yourself.

- for education
you need this for your educational career or sometimes you just want to read to learn. And, with all the new alternative ways to gain knowledge (podcasts, online courses and videos), the book still does an excellent job of this task too.

- for self-development
all exercises for increasing speed, one way or another, improve cognition and memory.

- for fun
because good books always = fun!

Book lovers have an additional special goal for reading more often. If you love literature, you will understand what we mean: you want to catch everything - to follow modern literature, and not forget about the classics, look into non-fiction and children's publications. And there’s so much you want to reread! The goals are ambitious, but attainable if you read a lot.

 

And so - How to read more:
We will tell you about the methods that we use ourselves. Perhaps some will suit you as well.

 

15 minutes a day

You've probably already heard this rule: if you want to start a healthy habit, devote 15 minutes a day to it. Once upon a time, we all read irregularly, in jumps and starts. Sometimes we cannot open a book we have begun weeks ago. Therefore, you should decide to create a rule: devote at least 15 minutes a day to reading. Try reading before bed, or maybe during lunchtime, or even when you are having your morning coffee.

You will see progress immediately. You will notice that almost always your 15 minutes will grow into half an hour or more. But the most remarkable thing is that in three weeks your hands themselves will be looking for a book.

 

50 First Pages
This method advises - If the book hasn't hooked you from the first 50 pages, put it aside! Life is too short to read uninteresting books.

It is necessary to change the approach to books. At first it will be hard for you to stop and put the book down. Even if we put the book away, it will seem to reproach us from the shelf, mocking us as quitters. But in the end we should come to one simple thought: if it doesn’t hook your attention, you should not force yourself to read it.

***Fifty pages is not a bad test. Not the most objective, but definitely effective. It helps to determine whether it interests you or not, and whether to spend time on things that do not excite.

 

Reader's Diary

This should be used to improve the quality of reading - to make it more conscious. For starters, it can be a simple notebook with headings:

  • Author
  • Year of publication
  • Main characters
  • Scene
  • Plot
  • Theme
  • Quotes

And, yes, a reader's diary is not a thing about quantity, but about quality. But, it can also motivate. When you open your diary and start looking at quotes (especially quotes), you immediately really want to read.

 

Maybe a Book Bet?
Several people can participate. Members of the betting group can come from friends, family, and also your colleagues. And of course you can set your own rules for participation, but we'll give you a simple example:

Everyone in the group should read and review a book over the course of a month with weekly updates. Anyone who does not finish a review buys the book for all other participants for the next month.

 

Speed Reading

Another effective way to increase the amount you read is speed reading. The logic here is simple - the faster you read, the more books you can enjoy.

*There are many online courses on speed reading, and you can also study on your own using instructional books. But, it is worth noting that this is a serious learning process that will require some effort on your part.

 

Outcome

Reading every day is quite attainable, the main thing is to try to make it a habit.
Sometimes, instead of heading for Facebook, try opening a book and soon you won’t even remember why you needed to wander around social media.
And also - don't forget about audiobooks. They are a cool way to take the load off your eyes sometimes and just immerse yourself in the story. Some books are really strong in voice acting.

 
 
 

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