These short stories span Eugenides's long career, and are filled with the provocative, carefully observed lives of some of his most intriguing characters: people who meet their circumstances head on, the kind of characters we have come to expect from this gifted writer. Some of the stories are clearly dry runs for his later novels (see if you can spot them!) and hint at how Eugenides develops character and plot. All fit neatly into his body of work. The stories, while filled with angst, and world-weariness, and a questing search for identity that challenges fate, are nonetheless leavened with dark humor and a self-deprecating awareness of the foibles of grandiose self-delusion.— Conrad Silverberg
The first collection of short fiction from the Pulitzer Prize-winning author Jeffrey Eugenides
Jeffrey Eugenides’s bestselling novels have shown him to be an astute observer of the crises of adolescence, self-discovery, family love, and what it means to be American in our times. The stories in Fresh Complaint explore equally rich—and intriguing—territory. Ranging from the bitingly reproductive antics of “Baster” to the dreamy, moving account of a young traveler’s search for enlightenment in “Air Mail” (selected by Annie Proulx for Best American Short Stories), this collection presents characters in the midst of personal and national emergencies. We meet a failed poet who, envious of other people’s wealth during the real-estate bubble, becomes an embezzler; a clavichordist whose dreams of art founder under the obligations of marriage and fatherhood; and, in “Fresh Complaint,” a high school student whose wish to escape the strictures of her immigrant family lead her to a drastic decision that upends the life of a middle-aged British physicist.
Narratively compelling, beautifully written, and packed with a density of ideas despite their fluid grace, these stories chart the development and maturation of a major American writer.
About the Author
Jeffrey Eugenides was born in Detroit and attended Brown and Stanford Universities. His first novel, The Virgin Suicides, was published by FSG to great acclaim in 1993, and he has received numerous awards for his work. In 2003, he received the Pulitzer Prize for his novel Middlesex (FSG, 2002), which was also a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, and France’s Prix Médicis. The Marriage Plot (FSG, 2011) was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, and won both the Prix Fitzgerald and the Madame Figaro Literary Prize. His collection of short stories, Fresh Complaint, is from FSG (2017). Eugenides is a professor of creative writing in the Lewis Center for the Arts at Princeton.