Friday, May 11, 2007

Pg. 99: Stacey Richter's "Twin Study"

The current feature at the Page 99 Test: Stacey Richter's Twin Study.

About the story collection, from the publisher:
Cavemen roam the suburbs, morality is questionable, teens are angsting, and alcoholics abound. This is the world as Stacey Richter sees it. In spite of-or perhaps because of-this alarming cast of characters, Richter’s stories are infused with wit, humor, and keen observations of what makes humans tick. There is no sentimental hand-wringing about alcoholic or absentee parents, lost loves, or the most terrible suburban neighborhood Christmas displays. Richter’s characters live, exist, play, and often drink too much because that is simply what they do. Carrying on is the only option. Richter writes with volatile energy, hurtling through her stories while coasting seamlessly between the regular and mundane. She sees the repercussions of bad parenting, forgotten kids, and while she may scoff, her caustic observations never demean her characters. By turns heartbreaking, mirthful, sardonic, and wise, her stories occasionally take a turn into the bizarre. Still, Richter’s flights of fancy are not about whimsy or science fiction. They are one imaginative woman’s clever and naked view of the absurdities teeming around her.
Among the early praise for Twin Study:
Twelve bracingly imaginative tales from Richter (My Date with Satan) look at pairs of women (mostly) at various crisis points, small and large. The title tale follows an actualset of twins, two deeply conflicted 30-something women, who see each other for the first time in four years at a Cal State twin study. "The Long Hall" sets two rebellious daughters of a divorced alcoholic mother in Mormon Utah, where they must choose between their outrageous punk band and their growing desire to be with boys. In "Blackout," a student narrator on a spring break in Baja confesses to betraying a sorority acquaintance. "Duet" follows two gifted Juilliard musicians: one chooses marriage and mediocrity, and the other finds mastery as an artist. "The Cavemen in the Hedges" shows the sadly hilarious unraveling of an unmarried suburban couple when they come into contact, thrillingly, with a savage band of transient cavemen. Richter has a great feel for dialogue and conflict, extreme and otherwise.
--Publishers Weekly

Richter possesses a commanding grasp of narrative and human interaction, and a sharp ear for dialogue.... The collection is witty, poignant, and admirably perceptive.

With prose as beautiful and spiny as a flowering cactus, Richter coaxes us close enough to deliver a sting. The stories are wry and funny, reminiscent of Lorrie Moore at her snarky best.... Like Moore's characters, Richter's are trying to make a place outside the noise of commercial culture.
--Erika Schickel, Los Angeles Times
Several of the stories from Twin Study are available online.

Stacey Richter received her M.F.A. from Brown University. The author of the story collection My Date with Satan, she is a three-time Pushcart Prize winner, and has been named a Village Voice Writer on the Verge.

Visit Richter's website.

The Page 99 Test: Twin Study.

--Marshal Zeringue