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A Hand Reached Down to Guide Me by David Gates
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A Hand Reached Down to Guide Me

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A Hand Reached Down to Guide Me by David Gates
Paperback $16.00
Apr 19, 2016 | ISBN 9780804168748

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  • Apr 19, 2016 | ISBN 9780804168748

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  • May 19, 2015 | ISBN 9780385351546

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“Brutal, viciously intelligent, and full of reckless, difficult love for its characters. These are gripping, sophisticated, gasp-inducing stories.” —The New Yorker

“Knowing and frank stories. . . a smart book about smart, articulate people who get in their own way again and again [with] not a lazy phrase on view.” —The New York Times Book Review

“This is David Gates at his best. . . . It’s a book of fiction about people you’ll never believe aren’t real.” —Time Out New York

“This novella-plus-stories is by turns tragic and hilarious and has a deadpan quality that makes me think of masters like Updike and Cheever.” —Sara Nelson, Amazon

“Gates is a master of variation [and] how good this book is, how craftily conversational the prose is, how often seemingly tossed-off lines produce that coveted spine tingle.” —The Minneapolis Star Tribune

“He’s really, really funny about failure.  Nobody writes about failure better than David Gates.” —Lorin Stein, NPR

“David Gates is a wonderful  writer. The stories in A Hand Reached down to Guide Me are fully realized, entertaining, gripping, astute, painful, wise, outrageous and  funny—all at the same time.” —Geoff Dyer

“Remarkable. . .  Gates turns a clear yet compassionate eye on a motley crew of characters who cheat, drink, snort, and lie their way through the autumn of their lives [and] the result is a moving account of flawed existence.” —The New Yorker

“Stories with crystalline urgency. . . Gates is one of the writers keeping the classic American short story alive [and he] gets his people right, both men and women. . . . His first collection in fifteen years carries the weight of maturity; of being more acquainted with the impulses and compromises one makes over the course of a lifetime.” —Chronogram

“The collection is really good [but] I’m surprised more isn’t made of his comic talents. There’s a caustic wit at work on nearly every page; empathy and misanthropy match stride for stride in a way that recalls Cheever at his best. In ‘Banishment’—a previously unpublished novella about a spectacularly bad marriage—it sometimes seems there’s an act of casual betrayal on every page, each designed to puncture another set of social mores.” —The Paris Review

“Gates [has] staked out a territory, the anxieties of a particular corner of the middle class: artsy, at one time hip or (even slightly) radical, aspirational [in] creativity or spirit. That these aspirations have crumbled is part of the point, as his characters reckon with the compromises, physical and emotional, that living brings [as well as] the tension between the profane and the sacred, between the height of our ambitions and the depths of our desires. . . .These [stories] capture a floating insubstantiality we can’t help but recognize because it also belongs to us.”  —The Los Angeles Times

“Malice and goodness duke it out in the dark hearts of David Gates’s characters. . . . [He] isn’t one to pass judgments.  He just sends devastatingly original dispatches from the heart of darkness. . . . It broadens the spectrum of truthfulness and emotion for which he is known [and] captures both the unfettered love and flashes of rage.” — Janet Maslin, The New York Times

“Deliciously wicked… The naughty musings most of us choose to ignore compel Gates’s characters to act. . . . These people mock their demons and, when called to account, exhibit such complexity, humor and intelligence that you’ll savor every page.” —More magazine

“Where has David Gates been all of my life? How is it that I’ve missed a writer who transforms all our failures and foibles into tales so gripping they read like great mystery novels? A Hand Reached Down To Guide Me is as unflinching as fiction gets, one of those books that feels like a discovery from the first page to the last.” —Adam Ross

Acclaim from the U.K.

“The irreverent and confident prose of this American writer is bewitching…Gates’s landscapes are deliciously detailed – you can feel the sofa fabric, read the newspapers, smell the bourbon – but his tours de force are his sublime characters … You will fall in love with (or hate) every damn sexy, well-read, disillusioned one of them.” —Daily Mail

“Whether you read the nicely poised conclusion of A Hand Reached Down to Guide Me as defeated or optimistic, the narrator speaks with the authentic voice of hard-won experience: “I can still sing,” he notes. “Having some age on me, maybe I sound more like the real thing.” This could be Gates’ own 68-year-old hand reaching down. For he is the real thing, as is illustrated on every page of this sad, hilarious and unflinchingly brilliant book.” —The Independent

“It is an absolute delight to be back in his masterful hands. Reading David Gates is far from an uncomplicated experience; his writing is dark, bitter, hilarious, truthful and complex, full of emotional turmoil and damaged characters, deeply flawed people doing pretty unspeakable things to themselves and others, and yet the self-aware flickers of humour, the knowing nods to the frailty of human existence, make him utterly compulsive…On the evidence of the new book, Gates remains a formidable and important writer for our times. And Jernigan retains its crazed power as a novel. Read them both.” —Independent on Sunday
“Gates’s 1991 novel, Jernigan…charted its eponymous anti-hero’s descent into alcoholism in a perfect balancing act of horror and hilarity. Like that memorable debut, all 12 stories in A Hand Reached Down to Guide Me are set in the north-eastern US, where references to the Puritan past form an ironic contrast to the insatiable appetites of the present. Whatever “lane” Gates lures his characters down, you can be sure it will lead through the Valley of Humiliation — although the prospect of perdition at the end is, just occasionally, tempered with surprising glimmers of redemption.” —Financial Times

“Gates is a technically excellent writer who can brilliantly illuminate the insides of his characters’ heads. There’s a truthfulness to this book that is both the best and most depressing thing about it.” —Glasgow Herald

“Gates is a truly formidable talent, but you’d be wary of having him over to dinner: you’d wonder what he was thinking.” —Sunday Times

“While David Gates’ style is different, the tone edgier, he shares Richard Ford’s understanding of the self-desctructive aspects of human nature…Gates’ strengths are sharp, witty dialogue, sexual tension and subtlety. Also, a non-judgmental tone, even when his characters do something devastatingly cruel…In each story, we witness humanity in their weakest, most shameful moments: ‘I went back to working…until—God, must we? Until I was able to sell my father’s house’ (A Hand Reached Down). I suspect it is this—shall we call it courage? — that attracts readers.” —Irish Examiner

“Gates’ brilliance is all the more surprising given the seemingly restricted nature of his milieu…Gates unearths hard-won truths and makes sure they’re funny, too.” —Metro

“Ferociously talented…this new collection of stories…is a testament to his singular genius.” —Catholic Herald

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