Friday, September 25th: Fiction. David Gates reads from his new book A Hand Reached Down to Guide Me. 7 p.m.
Acclaimed novelist David Gates—anointed by New York magazine as “a true heir to both Raymond Carver and John Cheever” and the author of the Pulitzer Prize finalist Jernigan—triumphantly returns with his first collection in fifteen years, A Hand Reached Down to Guide Me: Stories and a Novella (Alfred A. Knopf, May 19, 2015 / $25.95).
The eagerly anticipated new collection boasts eleven stories and a masterful novella, and it follows on the heels of Gates’ many previous critical successes. His second novel, Preston Falls, was named one of the Best Eleven Books of the Year by The New York Times, and both it and the collection The Wonders of the Invisible World were shortlisted for the National Book Critics Circle Award. This year, the featured story “A Hand Reached Down to Guide Me” was chosen by editor Jennifer Egan and included in The Best American Short Stories 2014.
Gates’s characters, young or old or neither, are well educated, broadly knowledgeable, often creative, and variously accomplished. They are doctors, composers, directors, academics, and journalists, and every one of them carries a full supply of the human condition: parents in assisted-living facilities, too many or too few people in their families and marriages, impulses pulling them away from comfort into distraction or catastrophe. Terrifyingly self-aware, they refuse to go gently—even when they’re going nowhere fast, in settings that range across the metropolitan and suburban Northeast to the countryside upstate and in New England.
Relentlessly inventive, alternatively hilarious and tragic, and always moving, A Hand Reached Down to Guide Me proves yet again that Gates’s stories, as The Boston Globe concluded, “have something for which many fiction writers would make a pact with any sort of devil—utter authenticity.”
David Gates lives in Missoula, where he teaches at the University of Montana, and in Granville, New York, where he is associated with the Bennington Writing Seminars. A former Guggenheim Fellow, for many years he was a writer and editor at Newsweek, where he specialized in music and books.