Tag Archives: the Let Go

THE LET GO: Available Now! Jerry Gabriel AMA on Reddit /r/books 5/5 @ 5:00 PM EST

Jerry Gabriel’s second collection of short fiction, The Let Go, is now available where our books are sold! To celebrate, Jerry Gabriel will be answering  your questions tonight on /r/books, starting at 5:00 PM EST, under the handle /u/gg676767.  He is a brave man, and we’ll miss him when he departs this Earth for the internet.

The Let Go, by Jerry Gabriel
The Let Go

About The Let Go:

The people who inhabit Jerry Gabriel’s second collection of stories, The Let Go, strain against their historical moments. A poacher’s daughter, a disgraced vet, an out–of–work temp, a professor, a middle–school basketball ace: these are the Great Let Go in whose embattled existence we feel the impact of war, financial crises, and the many lesser perils that attend life. With equal measures of tenderness, ruthlessness, and humor, Gabriel illuminates an Ohio landscape—its cities, suburbs, and countryside—fraught with economic disparity, its characters facing their dilemmas with grief, with anger, but always exhibiting a surprising fortitude. In these seven taut stories, Gabriel writes hardship as a site of hope.

“The characters in Jerry Gabriel’s The Let Go are the most memorable I’ve read in a very long time. They’re war vets and immigrants, ex–cons and small town middle–schoolers, whose lives intertwine in ways both inevitable and unlikely. As they trap mink, repair roofs, harbor fugitives, and try to figure how the hell to run a factory in the basement, they stand in that place—familiar to all of us—where life shifts imperceptibly and something has to give. They cling hard to integrity and do what they have to do.”
—Ana Maria Spagna, author of Test Ride on the Sunnyland Bus

“Like Alice Munro’s stories, these wonderful stories by Jerry Gabriel often have the scope of novels. They take a particular interest in characters who are just barely hanging on and who fear ’the let go’: the day when they will be laid off. The stories have great urgency and momentum and carry you headlong through to the end. The Let Go is one of the best books of short fiction that I’ve read in the last few years.”
—Charles Baxter, author of There’s Something I Want You to Do

“The Let Go is a knife–twister, sharp, sad, sneakily funny. Jerry Gabriel writes with bracing authenticity and insight, but what’s most impressive is how he’s able to chart and deepen the pathos of these unmoored lives without ever marinating in it or succumbing to easy revelations. A terrific collection.”
—Kevin Moffett, author of The Silent History

“An enormous heart pulses through every page, every line of The Let Go, a collection of stories somehow diverse enough to include poachers, roofers, scientists, dropouts, basketball stars, war vets, office workers, and accidental factory owners, all of them full of longing for something they can’t quite name. With his careful attention to their rich interior lives, it’s obvious Jerry Gabriel loves every one of his characters for exactly who they are, and you will too. The Let Go is a work of great literature.”
—Matt Burgess, author of Uncle Janice

“Jerry Gabriel’s wry, fierce stories are about Ohio in the same way Breece Pancake’s stories are about West Virginia, which is to say they tenderly, vividly evoke a singular merciless landscape while also being deeply engaged with the larger world and the politics and history of the United States. In The Let Go, Gabriel elegantly distills the disorders of our perilous times into marvelously strange fiction that is sometimes surreal, often wickedly funny, and profoundly moving. These stories bring us the news that stays news.”
—Maud Casey, author of The Man Who Walked Away

Jerry Gabriel’s first book of fiction, Drowned Boy, was chosen by Andrea Barrett to win the Mary McCarthy Prize in Short Fiction and was published in 2010 by Sarabande Books. It was a Barnes and Noble “Discover Great New Writers” selection and awarded the 2011 Towson Prize for Literature. His stories have recently appeared in Five Chapters, EPOCH, Big Fiction, Alaska Quarterly Review, and The Missouri Review. He lives in Maryland, where he teaches at St. Mary’s College of Maryland and directs the Chesapeake Writers’ Conference.

Find the collection on our catalog , on Amazon, or be one of five lucky winners to get the collection on Goodreads, and enjoy Jerry Gabriel’s profoundly moving collection of (longish) short fiction!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

The Let Go by Jerry Gabriel

The Let Go

by Jerry Gabriel

Giveaway ends May 31, 2015.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to Win

The Let Go: A brief history

The long story and life, according to The Let Go author, Jerry Gabriel:

The stories in The Let Go, which I am very excited to say will be seeing the light of day in May 2015 thanks to Erin McKnight and Queen’s Ferry Press, were written over the course of about three and a half years. I can actually peg the beginning and end pretty clearly to the births of my children. “We’re in Danger, All of Us” was the first thing I wrote after my first daughter was born, in the fall of 2009. The last story I wrote for the book, “The Visitors,” I finished in the spring of 2013; it was the first thing I worked on after our twins were born the previous summer. It probably goes without saying that the stories, then, are intertwined with the new experience of fatherhood and its inherent exhaustion, joy, and paradigm-shifting truth that you now have other humans reliant on you in ways previously unimaginable. There is a lot about fathers and children in this book, though it’s worth noting that not all of it is so healthy. Perhaps that is wrought out of some of this new anxiety.

I can’t say I set out to write a collection of stories. Just before all of this, I’d finished a novel I’d been working on for three or four years, and my theory is that one reason the stories are all so long—the average length is about 35 pages—is that I had internalized a novelistic pacing, but could not really commit to another novel, especially given the new constraints on my time. After I finished “We’re in Danger,” though, I did begin to consciously craft a collection, not so much linking the stories (as I did in my first book, Drowned Boy) as thinking about them as different approaches to a single question, a crude formulation of which might be: what are the ways in which a place like Ohio—both its small town and big city incarnations—intersects with the greater world? It is easy to imagine such a place cut off from the world, a cultural and political island. But that is not reality, not at all. So this question or concern, I think, drove each new story, even if the sources of the stories were so very different. A number of them are more or less historical—there is one set in 1972, one in 1982, one in 1991—which allowed for an interesting torqueing of the question.

Once I had it in my head to write a collection, I worked as I have heard some story writers (like Andre Dubus) say they worked: multiple stories were going at once, like different pots on a stove, all at various levels of completion (and, to be honest, disarray). It was hard work, in a way, but also exhilarating. There were other stories from the period that didn’t make the cut for the book, two of which because they were simply too short (which is to say they were normal story length); after a time, I began to like the idea of a book of stories that were all what some people call “the long story”—that space just shy of novella territory. With long stories, as it is with novellas, it is superficially a question of length, and more significantly one of ambition, pacing, and time. A long story also frequently allows for a larger cast of characters, and thus a larger world.

Each story in the book offered its own set of rewards, but I think “The Visitors” is the one that has affected me most profoundly as a writer, and in a way perhaps it is the most personal, emotionally speaking, because of the complexity of the relationship between the father and daughter. In it, I wrote about a murky moral landscape—that of a Weather Underground-type organization. Terrorists are an easy target for scorn—and for good reason—but I would be lying if I said I didn’t come to see a kind of nobility and bravery in the Underground’s fight against the madness of the Vietnam War juggernaut. I learned an enormous amount in writing this story, both about the historical moment of the late Sixties (which happens to be when I was born) and about how one goes about writing historical fiction—the ways one can find gaps in the record to create lives that mesh with the larger history.

On a different note, “Long Story, No Map”—and I have to give credit here to Heather Jacobs at Big Fiction for both helping me shape the story and for in fact naming it; my title had been “In the Real World, You Lose Your Security Deposit,” which you can see is clunky—ranks among my favorites because the protagonist, Carl, is sort of my alter ego at nineteen. If, that is, a couple flips of the coin had come out differently. And so it was fun to imagine that person—intuitive, but also petulant and entitled and incredibly naïve. Parts of that story were just so easy, because I know that guy so well. But then I coupled him with an unlikely bedfellow, an elderly North Korean emigrant epidemiologist. This character causes serious cognitive dissonance for Carl, which is pretty fun to watch, I think. Because he’s sensitive and because he’s lost and because he’s starting to see how much he doesn’t know, he’s open to it, the experience of becoming friends with this old Korean man. It’s a strange story, but then they all are in their way, or that is my hope.