The Dead Fish Museum

The Dead Fish Museum

Charles D'Ambrosio / Feb 21, 2020

The Dead Fish Museum In the fall I went for walks and brought home bones The best bones weren t on trails deer and moose don t die conveniently and soon I was wandering so far into the woods that I needed a map and compa

  • Title: The Dead Fish Museum
  • Author: Charles D'Ambrosio
  • ISBN: 9781616829896
  • Page: 399
  • Format: Hardcover
  • In the fall, I went for walks and brought home bones The best bones weren t on trails deer and moose don t die conveniently and soon I was wandering so far into the woods that I needed a map and compass to find my way home When winter came and snow blew into the mountains, burying the bones, I continued to spend my days and often my nights in the woods I vaguely under In the fall, I went for walks and brought home bones The best bones weren t on trails deer and moose don t die conveniently and soon I was wandering so far into the woods that I needed a map and compass to find my way home When winter came and snow blew into the mountains, burying the bones, I continued to spend my days and often my nights in the woods I vaguely understood that I was doing this because I could no longer think I found relief in walking up hills When the night temperatures dropped below zero, I felt visited by necessity, a baseline purpose, and I walked for miles, my only objective to remain upright, keep moving, preserve warmth When I was lost, I told myself stories So Charles D Ambrosio recounted his life in Philipsburg, Montana, the genesis of the brilliant stories collected here, six of which originally appeared in The New Yorker Each of these eight burnished, terrifying, masterfully crafted stories is set against a landscape that is both deeply American and unmistakably universal A son confronts his father s madness and his own hunger for connection on a misguided hike in the Pacific Northwest A screenwriter fights for his sanity in the bleak corridors of a Manhattan psych ward while lusting after a ballerina who sets herself ablaze A Thanksgiving hunting trip in Northern Michigan becomes the scene of a haunting reckoning with marital infidelity and desperation And in the magnificent title story, carpenters building sets for a porn movie drift dreamily beneath a surface of sexual tension toward a racial violence they will never fully comprehend Taking place in remote cabins, asylums, Indian reservations, the backloads of Iowa and the streets of Seattle, this collection of stories, as muscular and challenging as the best novels, is about people who have been orphaned, who have lost connection, and who have exhausted the ability to generate meaning in their lives Yet in the midst of lacerating difficulty, the sensibility at work in these fictions boldly insists on the enduring power of love D Ambrosio conjures a world that is fearfully inhospitable, darkly humorous, and touched by glory here are characters, tested by every kind of failure, who struggle to remain human, whose lives have been sharpened rather than numbed by adversity, whose apprehension of truth and beauty has been deepened rather than defeated by their troubles Many writers speak of the abyss Charles D Ambrosio writes as if he is inside of it, gazing upward, and the gaze itself is redemptive, a great yearning ache, poignant and wondrous, equal parts grit and grace.A must read for everyone who cares about literary writing, The Dead Fish Museum belongs on the same shelf with the best American short fiction.

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    About "Charles D'Ambrosio"

      • Charles D'Ambrosio

        Charles D Ambrosio attended the Iowa Writers Workshop after getting his BA in English at Oberlin College in Ohio He is the author of two collections of short stories, The Point and The Dead Fish Museum, and one collection of essays, Orphans He has taught at several universities and workshops, including Reed College and The Tin House Summer Workshop, both in Portland, Oregon where he lives with his wife, Heather Larimer.


    1. IL CONTRARIO DELL’AMORE NON È L’ODIO MA LA DISPERAZIONEOgni volta che si parla di racconti, si tira in ballo Carver. Un po’ come ogni volta che si parla di adolescenza, subito spunta Holden, e ogni volta che l’argomento è la memoria ecco apparire Proust.I personaggi di questi racconti sono stati abbandonati, sono vittime, sono uniti dalla malattia, sono alla deriva, senza riscatto, senza rivincita, inseguono qualcosa che non hanno mai posseduto – si muovono in un’America provincial [...]

    2. I don't know why I didn't like these stories more. Technically, they are perfect little masterpieces.And yetThe stories seem to be missing a certain spark, for lack of a better word, that lifts them into the category of amazing, or at least, memorable. It took me six days to read this book and when I was finished, I flipped back to the first story. I could not remember a thing about it.Most of the stories drop off into nothingness: no real endings, no resolutions, no lessons learned by the chara [...]

    3. Garp's way with a story was to find one he liked and read it again and again; it would spoil him for reading any other story for a long while. When he was at Steering he read Joseph Conrad's "The Secret Sharer" thirty-four times. He also read D. H. Lawrence's "The Man Who Loved Islands" twenty-one times; he felt ready to read it again, now.(John Irving, The World According to Garp, p. 90)I'll never be a reader like T. S. Garp--I've read about 1300 stories in the past three years. Late in 2008, I [...]

    4. A friend of mine raved about this collection. She absolutely RAVED about it–to the point where I became rather suspicious. Could it be THAT good? She kept telling me to read it.So of course, in my stubborn way, I decided to NOT read it right away. I mean, no one tells me what to do and what to like!But I finally did pick up the book, a year later. And fell in love with the stories and D’Ambrosio’s writing. These are complex, complete stories–the characters so intricate, the writing both [...]

    5. A wonderful collection of short stories that evoke emotions as rich and different as the worlds represented -- from Kalona, Iowa to New York City and Seattle. My favorite passage, from the story "Blessing":"My ideal life is a quiet one. I like to read, to sit still in the same chair, with the lampshade at a certain angle, alone, or with Megan nearby, and now an then, if I'm lucky, I'll come across a lovely phrase or fine sentiment, look up from my book, and feel the harmony of some notion, the j [...]

    6. il museo minimalista della sfiga e dei sopravvissuti a essaantologia minimalista di marcata impronta americana, i protagonisti sono persone che hanno avuto problemi e sono sopravvissuti, ma non sono più tornati a essere come prima, la malattia mentale, l'abbandono, la prigione, la droga, sono tutte cose da cui non si torna indietro o almeno chi torna non è lo stesso che è partitoracconti densi, ma non cattivi, lievi nel sottintendere e un po' grevi nel suggerire un'evoluzione più triste che [...]

    7. Two pages into the title story I was awed and ready to fall in love with this whole collection, and then didn't quite happen. Dark, distantly mystical stories about porn carpenters and floods on the Skagit river that are cryptic as hell and set in places I've livedwhat's not to like? But I guess for all their promise these stories were more admirable than affecting -- they gave the feeling of "damn, wouldn't THAT be fun to puzzle over in a sterile academic environment" rather than the feeling of [...]

    8. The title story of this volume is, obviously, “The Dead Fish Museum,” but the D’Ambrosio story that resonated most with me was “Drummond & Son because of a conversation that took place at the Tin House conference last July. During a panel discussion, D’Ambrosio and Joy Willliams got into a rather extended exchange about where you could find the best typewriter repair shop--in the country. Both of them still use these antediluvian devices, and things being what they are, need to get [...]

    9. Protagoniste dei racconti di D'Ambrosio sono le vite dolenti, incompiute, fallite, mancanti di una più parti vitali dei protagonisti (un bambino, una coppia che ha appena comprato una casa, una coppia di tossici che vivono d'espedienti, un giovane ereditiero alla morte del nonno, il marito di una donna stuprata da giovane e che da allora non ha mai avuto un orgasmo, lo sceneggiatore con disturbi mentali)I personaggi sono fissati in un presente fatto di piccoli o grandi avvenimenti (la visita di [...]

    10. god, he's good. i loved his essays in "orphans" and here, without the journalistic, semi-autobiographical element, the stories come somehow even more alive. it's as though these characters are being written by their own subconsciouses (if that's the plural); it's like getting to know them from the inside. of course everyone is incredibly damaged, has come back from death, watching their loved one suffer, self-inflicted burns, sitting in dirty bathtub water's an intense, at times bleak, literary [...]

    11. Questa di D'Ambrosio è una raccolta di racconti potentissimi. I protagonisti sono persone che hanno avuto problemi e sono sopravvissuti, ma non sono più tornati a essere come prima, la malattia mentale, l'abbandono, la prigione, la droga, sono tutte cose da cui non si torna indietro e, chi torna, non è lo stesso che è partitoRacconti densi che suggeriscono un'evoluzione più triste che avverrà fuori scena, dopo che il sipario è calato e il libro è stato riposto sullo scaffalei tormentati [...]

    12. THE DEAD FISH MUSEUM. (2006). Charles D’ambrosio. ****.This was a fine collection of short stories or essays by this author. His plots and characters are unique in that they don’t come from any particular segment of society, but all remain apart from it. It seems that the author had the knack of meeting these atypical characters wherever he went, and managed to strike up a relationship with them in a short time. I suspect that each story represented a true episode in the author’s life. It [...]

    13. D'Ambrosio is a short story master. Characters and relationships are revealed gradually in their complexity, and served with a degree of tension and unpredictability that never goes over the top. Excellent collection, without exception!

    14. It is always chancy to pick out a book that has a title that you do not understand. If it is a book of short stories, it can be especially dangerous since the title is probably only connected with one story.The Dead Fish Museum was published in 2006 so my aged brain classifies that as “recent.” Then I think, “Is eight years ago recent?” and I think, “Maybe not recent.” The dust jacket of this book is a black and white photograph of old fashion typewriter keys but instead of letters, [...]

    15. The Dead Fish Museum is a collection of eight stories by Charles D’Ambrosio. It won the 2007 Washington State Book Award for Fiction and was a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award. I have never heard of D’Ambrosio nor read any of his writing. However, the title beckons like a haunting call and I was only too delighted to read it when a friend loaned me his copy.I read the first few pages of the first story, The High Divide, and was charmed by the visual quality of the prose. I appreciated the [...]

    16. Hailed as a latter-day Raymond Carver, the master of the American short form himself, I picked up Charles D'Ambrosio's collection up with much anticipation. The first story, "The High Divide", however, didn't quite engage me, perhaps because I was a little thrown off by (what I interpreted as) the deliberateness of 'exoticising' the setting and the main character's circumstances with these opening lines: "At the Home I'd get up early, the Sisters were still asleep, and head to the ancient Chines [...]

    17. I picked this up from the library due to the long litany of writers whose works I admire (Michael Chabon among them) making very vocal recommendations for this young man being the best new writer to emerge in quite some time. For that reason, I am a bit surprised at how underwhelmed I was by this collection of short stories. The stories all struck me as being wonderful middles to stories that had beginnings and ends that we, as readers, were not made privy to. They're thought-provoking slices of [...]

    18. Che dire? Ci siamo! Charles D’Ambrosio per me è un grande autore. Parte da Carver, ha lo stesso stile, ma va oltre e aggiunge significati, fantasia, poesia e un vago gusto per l’esoterico. E’ inutile adesso stare a dire quale sia il racconto più bello, hanno tutti qualcosa in comune: la famiglia, la pesca, la follia, ma sono sostanzialmente diversi. L’autore sa essere schietto e orgoglioso nel mostrasi e, uno così, o lo ami o lo odi. Io lo amo. Non dico altro o forse non ne sono capac [...]

    19. Eight stories that feel inevitable, subtle, and cold--cold in the clammy Northwest literal sense; they leave a weird pocket of something inside you with their endings (they expand in your head the way Flannery O'Connor describes); D'Ambrosio is both gritty and artful with the paranormal, a surprising combo -- here are a couple of stunning stretches of prose:“Everywhere I went, he went, creeping along a few sedate paces back in soft-soled shoes, a shadow that gave off a disturbing susurrus like [...]

    20. I think I picked this book up after reading an old review of it in the New York Times. As I read, I kept thinking, "This isn't the kind of book I normally read." As if I wasn't the intended audience because the stories felt so masculine and often dark. And yet I loved it. The characters are intensely drawn, doing their best often in crummy circustances, and still searching for and finding beauty. The prose is beautiful; not a word wasted.

    21. In questa raccolta di racconti D'Ambrosio ci conduce per mano attraverso un'umanità dolente, in cammino verso una destinazione che non conosce e che forse neppure importa quale sia. Un'umanità che, come dice il personaggio di uno dei racconti, "non poteva fare altro che vivere la sua vita, proprio come me e come lei". Sono uomini soli quelli che abitano questi racconti, uomini che sotto le vesti di un'apparenza come tante nascondono ferite mai rimarginate, uomini che si portano dietro un dolor [...]

    22. I am a fan of short story collections. Lots of people have strong feelings and I have come across more people who are inclined to dismiss short stories as half-hearted or incomplete or inconsequential. I then proceed to list different volumes that might change their minds but the disdain seems deeply held. With that said, The Dead Fish Museum is way up there in terms of short stories. Great stories don't need a page count to be great. Just write it until it's done.D'Ambrosio's collection's blurb [...]

    23. Charles D'Ambrosio's second short story collection, The Dead Fish Museum, is cute, I guess. It did, however, strike me as highly conventional and bland. I wanted to like this book. And I did like parts of it. "Drummond & Son," "The Scheme of Things," and "The Dead Fish Museum" are the standout stories, but even they aren't without their issues. There are a couple stories in this collection that I thought were pretty awful -- I'm looking at you "Screenwriter" and"Up North" -- but it's not as [...]

    24. Charles D'Ambrosio maneggia l'arte del racconto come pochissimi altri. Racconti che sono piccoli squarci di storie che potrebbero essere altrettanti romanzi, racconti che sembrano non avere inizio né fine, brevi attimi sospesi, quadri abbozzati eppure vividi. Il tutto condito da uno stile narrativo di grande profondità.

    25. Every now and then my daily writing habit produces, almost accidentally, a short story, and when it happens it makes me immediately want to revisit some of my favorite renditions of the craft from years past. Like this gem of a collection by the great Pacific Northwest writer Charles D'Ambrosio. What follows is a review I wrote of the book when I first read it in 2006.Raised in Seattle myself, much of what I wrote seven years ago about The Dead Fish Museum holds true. However, this time around I [...]

    26. If you want to read cuddly, uplifting stories, this collection isn’t for you. But if you are looking for stories that unapologetically dive into what is inevitable and true about human nature and heartache, there is no one better than D’Ambrosio.At face value, these are stories about depression, mental illness, violence, and generally bleak situations. But the world and atmosphere that D’Ambrosio creates with his language is breathtaking. Each of the stories in this collection captures a m [...]

    27. Volgens een recensie in de Los Angeles Times zou D'Ambrosio naast Raymond Carver geplaatst moeten worden, tussen de beste korteverhalenschrijvers van onze tijd. Dat is nogal een uitspraak. Maar het trok daardoor wel mijn aandacht. Het nadeel hiervan is dat ik deze bundel ben gaan lezen met die gedachte in mijn achterhoofd, de gedachte dat dit nog wel eens zou kunnen tippen aan Carver. Na het lezen van een paar verhalen ga je dan toch teleurgesteld worden en dat ligt niet meteen aan het schrijven [...]

    28. I read 'High Divide' and 'Drummond & Son'. These two stores are about a father's relationship to his son. 'High Divide' is about a father and son who takes a camping trip to Olympia Washington. The hike culminate in one night when at the very peak of the mountain, the father asked his son to move to California after the divorce. Indeed the title suggest that there is going to be a divide. It is also a fork in the road which hikers often confront. Midway, there's a sign post which ask lets yo [...]

    29. The interesting thing with short story collections is that they make it possible to see ongoing thematic elements in an author's writing. Stories that were written at different times, published in different magazines have the benefit of being spaced out--well, perhaps benefit isn't the right word, because there is something to be said about seeing tonal qualities across stories.And the tone of this book is definitely aquatic, leafy and loamy like the Pacific Northwest, disillusionment, detachmen [...]

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