American Masculine

American Masculine

American Masculine book by Shann Ray

SHANN RAY’S story collection AMERICAN MASCULINE (Graywolf Press),  a muscular ensemble of stories set primarily in the small towns and reservations of Montana, is the winner of the American Book Award.

Named by Esquire as one of Three Books Every Man Should Read, and selected by Kirkus Reviews as a Best Book, Best Short Story Collection, and Editor’s Choice selection, American Masculine considers the threshold over which men and women pass into a new country of grace. Winner of the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference Bakeless Prize, American Masculine also won two High Plains Book Awards, for Best Short Story Collection and Best First Book.

With starred reviews from Publishers Weekly, the American Library Association, Kirkus Reviews  and Shelf-Awareness American Masculine has been called a book of “elegance”, “muscularity” and “astonishing power”, “prophetic”, “lyrical” and “fiercely written”, forming a “true and pure depiction of sorrow and a primer for forgiveness.”  “These stories are powerful literary stunners,” said Booklist, “there is not  a weak story in the entire collection.”

* WINNER, AMERICAN BOOK AWARD *

* WINNER, BREAD LOAF WRITERS’ CONFERENCE BAKELESS PRIZE *

* WINNER OF TWO HIGH PLAINS BOOK AWARDS *

* KIRKUS REVIEWS BEST BOOK *

* KIRKUS REVIEWS BEST SHORT STORY COLLECTION *

* KIRKUS REVIEWS FAVORITE BOOKS: EDITOR’S PICK *

* ESQUIRE’S 3 BOOKS EVERY MAN SHOULD READ *

* TEN MANLIEST BOOKS, AMERICAN LIBRARY ASSOCIATION *

* THE STORY PRIZE, NOTABLE COLLECTION *

WINNER, NEA LITERATURE FELLOWSHIP *

AMERICAN MASCULINE receives critical acclaim from ESQUIRE, PUBLISHERS WEEKLY (starred), KIRKUS REVIEWS (starred), BOOKLIST (starred), SHELF AWARENESS (starred), FOREWORD, (featured review), THE KENYON REVIEW, RAIN TAXI, RUMINATE, SALON.COM, 3G1B, HIGH COUNTRY NEWSTHE INTERNATIONAL ARTS MOVEMENT, THE QUIVERING PEN, WASHINGTON INDEPENDENT REVIEW OF BOOKSMONTANA ARTS COUNCIL, BOOKFOX, FICTION WRITERS REVIEW, GIRL SEEKS PLACE, CITY BOOK REVIEW, FERIATUS, BOOKS PERSONALLY and WORD/SOUND.

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Reviews

“Shann Ray’s prose brings to mind Cormac McCarthy and Annie Proulx but is, thankfully, entirely his own. His work is lyrical, prophetic, brutal yet ultimately hopeful.”

—Dave Eggers, author of WHAT IS THE WHAT, editor of McSWEENEY’S

 

“Written in prose both fierce and elegant, AMERICAN MASCULINE is a commanding debut. With stories set in and around the reservation lands of the American West, Shann Ray hones the cutting edge between desire and need, despair and beauty. The scope of these stories and depth of their complexity result in an extraordinary collection that is the gift of an exceptional talent. I am reminded once again, of what it means to encounter genuine grace.”

—Claire Davis, author of LABORS OF THE HEART

 

“Shann Ray has been up close with the vividly contrary complexities of the present-day American West, the harshness and sweetness. He’s seen a lot of vast and miniscule things, and tells of them with compelling honesty. What a fine break-out collection.”

—William Kittredge, author of HOLE IN THE SKY

 

AMERICAN MASCULINE is a powerful fiction debut.  These ten stories reveal Shann Ray’s unique voice, his lyrical vision of the West, and his always-eloquent contemplation of the mysteries of grace and forgiveness.”

—Jess Walter, National Book Award finalist for THE ZERO

 

“A gorgeous and thought provoking collection about gender roles in modern society, encompassing marriage, love, adultery, responsibility, and heartbreak.  And somehow, beautifully in this  somewhat harsh world, there is an echo of forgiveness.  Don’t miss Shann Ray’s story, ‘Mrs. Secrest,’ one of the most perfect short stories I have ever read.  A very talented, big-thinking, generous writer — definitely someone to watch.”

—Siobhan Fallon, author of YOU KNOW WHEN THE MEN ARE GONE

 

“Shann Ray writes about small western towns and their residents in tough, poetic, and beautiful ways. I recognize many of these people, and that’s good, but I’m also surprised and stunned by many others, which is great. Buy the book and read it tonight. You’ll love it, too.”

—Sherman Alexie, PEN Faulkner Award winner for WAR DANCES

 

“There is much to admire in AMERICAN MASCULINE. Much. It is a deep and inventive story collection, so those of us who like to obsess about the short form find plenty to celebrate. But this is not merely a book for short story lovers. It’s too soulful for that. It’s too knowledgeable about fathers and sons, husbands and wives, brothers and teammates to be pigeon-holed in that way. It’s open-eyed about race and class. It’s sharp and true in its observations about the West (and, by extension, about America). Best of all, it’s full of memorable characters and great story lines. There are no cliches here. “The Great Divide” is a fantastic story–horrifying and beautifully written all at once. “How We Fall” and “When We Rise” are graceful and poignant and blood-churning. They evoke the best of James Welch and Maile Meloy. Ray cares about language. He yearns for redemption. And those traits infuse the book with an unusual, long-lasting power.”

—Alyson Hagy, author of BOLETO

 

AMERICAN MASCULINE by Shann Ray both mule-kicked me in the heart and bolstered my soul.  These stories are about men and women struggling to keep their humanity alive, trying to grow hope from failure and loss. The prose is beautiful, and the empathetic connection delivered through these characters hit me in a deep place. I believe the best of what fiction can do is to allow us to see ourselves, though in a way that’s bearable. Through this investigation, this introspection, I believe I became a better version of myself through reading AMERICAN MASCULINE.”

—Alan Heathcock, author of VOLT

 

AMERICAN MASCULINE is remarkable for its spare, lyrical prose; the stunningly original metaphors and perceptions; and the tenderness with which Shann Ray sees his people even in the midst of dangerous, self-destructive, disturbing circumstances.  I especially love the passages of rapturous poetry: the lucid, elegant description of the golden eagles on page 14, for example. That movement, from human to more-than-human, resonates with the gloriously expansive spiritual vision that informs and illuminates all these transcendent stories.  The experimentation with form (“Three from Montana” and “Rodin’s the Hand of God”) highlight Ray’s extraordinary flexibilty as an artist and thinker, his willingness to let the reader enter his work in the silent spaces he leaves open.”

—Melanie Rae Thon, author of IN THIS LIGHT

 

“Ray writes with an unsettling power in his first collection of stories, AMERICAN MASCULINE.  The characters are as outsized as the western landscape they inhabit, and the images are so disturbingly crafted–a mob of red-faced passengers hurling a thief onto the tracks; a car caught in a muddy river with a family floating inside it; a snow-clotted basketball net exploding in a crystalline halo–that they imprint themselves on the reader like a beautiful infection.”

—Benjamin Percy, author of REFRESH, REFRESH, from Esquire

 

“Bold. Lyrical. Deeply felt. Fiercely written.

In these stories, Shann Ray grapples with the terrible hurt we inflict on those we love, and finds that reconciliation, if far off, is at least possible.”

—Graywolf Press

 

“The sentences in this book have such grace and muscularity… the author’s images and events carry the nearly visceral weight of memory… AMERICAN MASCULINE is a powerful, resonant work of literature, and Shann Ray is a masterful and original writer.”

—Robert Boswell, Bakeless Prize Judge, and author of CENTURY’S SON