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Seven Stories Press

Works of Radical Imagination

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Despite the world's insecurities, the most common drama of all is not of apocalypse now, but of apocalypse deferred; the pain of living is having to wait it out. DeMarinis's characters try alcohol, they try travel, and (most of all) they try off-limits love. They find themselves in harm’s way, or put themselves there—but in life, as the title story states, "sometimes the worst doesn't happen."

In "The Missile Gypsies," a nuclear engineer’s casual faith in a universal safety mechanism is derailed by a surprise liaison with a coworker, an affair he is clumsily unable to hide from his wife. "Moss spent the rest of the night in his truck telling himself he was a good man with poor judgment. He had no personal trigger-lock." In "Birds of the Mountain West," a man who goes to comfort his friend, a suicidal alcoholic, recalls seeing birds intoxicated on fermented berries. "Then, at sunset, the mob of wasted waxwings settled in a single tree and faced the setting sun, trilling long plaintive notes for the dying of the light—a fine feathered choir of happily pious drunks … "

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“The power of DeMarinis' deliciously disconcerting short stories is generated by his card-shark ability to transform the realistic into the bizarre. Loaded with startlingly vivid details, unusually skewed psychological insights, and ravishingly poetic apocalyptic intimations, DeMarinis' cunning, cuttingly funny short stories track the psychic damage done by war and the chilling shadow of nuclear weapons even as they celebrate our rising, however unsteadily, from the ashes.”

“However similar the existential suffering of his characters, DeMarinis expertly probes the contours of their condition.You simply can't move your eyes from the page.”

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Rick DeMarinis is the author of eight novels, including The Year of the Zinc Penny, a New York Times notable book, along with half a dozen short story collections. In 1990, DeMarinis received an Academy Award for Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Each year, Cutthroat: A Journal of the Arts awards its short story prize in his name. DeMarinis lives in Washington state.