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February 09 , 2009

The Hotel Eden: Stories


Prepare to be amused, moved, disturbed. These stories by a master of idiosyncrasy visit a world where wit has heft, charm has shadow, and human beings act out all the complicated nuances of love.

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As may be imagined from the title, Mr. Fenton Ash's book does not lack for marvelous adventure. The story opens in the Southern Seas with the fall of what is at first taken for an immense meteorite, but really is a Martian airship. /low the two heroes, in company with a few other denizens of this earth, are invited to return to Mars, and what they…

In the title story, a young man waiting in the Hotel Eden discovers—as others have—that Eden is not a permanent domicile. In "Zanduce at Second," a baseball player turned killer-by-accident undergoes a surprising transformation. We root for escaped felon Ray (“A Note on the Type”) as he carves his name on a culvert wall. We drive the sweltering summer streets of Phoenix as a nineteen-year-old narrator goes through an unsettling sexual awakening ("Oxygen"). In these and other stories, whether his characters are getting sabotaged by nightcaps or encountering nudists on a rafting trip, Carlson takes us to new places in a new way.

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