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Dream Date

, 248 pages
April 2002
List price:$21.95
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Dream Date


Jean McGarry has been praised for her "deft, comic, and devastatingly precise portraits" ( New York Times Book Review) and as "a writer who honors the human condition" ( Baltimore Sun). In her new collection of stories, Dream Date, she focuses her skills as a "gifted observer" ( Publishers Weekly) on the delicate boundary that separates the real from the ethereal states we drift into and out of as we try to make sense of our relationships, romantic and otherwise, with the other sex. Funny and haunting in equal measure—and suffused with a hint of the surreal—McGarry's stories explore the confusions, contradictions, and calamities of the modern relationship: in "Paris," a woman tracks down her wayward husband in the City of Lights and ends up having a meeting of minds with his mistress that gives great satisfaction to both women; in "Moon, June," a woman stalks the wardrobe of a wealthy socialite in a consignment shop, opening up a world of polymorphous delight and fashion envy; and in "The Secret of His Sleep," a man wakes up after forty years to a reality that is at once strangely familiar and completely unexpected. In these wry fictions, real-world problems often have solutions fashioned with the stunning clarity and logic of a dream.

Jean McGarry teaches in The Writing Seminars, Johns Hopkins University. Dream Date is her sixth book of fiction, following Gallagher's Travels, Home at Last, The Courage of Girls, The Very Rich Hours, and Airs of Providence.

"McGarry continues to explore the voids between men and women, and between the life of the imagination and the compromises of daily life...McGarry draws on regional detail, literary history, and the pleasures and disappointments of the intellectual life as she examines existential angst with frank wit and solipsistic wisdom. In Dream Date, she plays with His and Hers points of view within realistic narratives or dreamlike fantasy... At her best, McGarry illuminates our quirky, flawed selves and neighbors, and makes us nod even as we sigh."

"A knockout fourth collection of wonderfully honed, superbly quirky tales exploring the modern-day crises of relationship-weary men and women. McGarry is equally comfortable in the voices of men and women, and it's hard to find a weak link among these 13 stories... When she's at her strongest, McGarry's prose is fresh, her plots unpredictable, and her dialogue shimmeringly wry... Many of the stories here appeared in small literary or academic publications. They deserve wider circulation. Reading McGarry's stories is to be surprised and delighted."

"The reader is catapulted into intensely woven dramas, tightly constructed riffs on the state of affairs 'twixt man and woman. Five are His; eight are Hers; all are captivating glimpses into that awkward and often uncharted territory between the sexes, in which we hoard private moments for ourselves, yet, which if displayed in public, others interpret, searching for hidden clues to help them decipher the relationship... Each story instantly attracts with a seductive energy and authenticity, then just as quickly, McGarry will segue into a subtle sea change, altering mood and tension to lend a dreamlike quality to each tale, throwing the reader slightly off balance yet begging for more."

"I have always loved Jean McGarry's books for their acuteness and generosity—an unusual combination. And I've been waiting impatiently for new work and here it is; surprising in its riskiness, humor, and smart as ever."

"At the conclusion of each of Jean McGarry's marvelous stories, the reader is faced with a delightful dilemma: to go back to the beginning and read it again, or to begin the next. The precision and complexity of each tale invite rereading. But each story's inventiveness, its droll wisdom, makes us look forward to discovering just what Ms. McGarry will come up with next."

"Jean McGarry's stories are stylistic riffs, surprising in every sentence—and those sentences, lively and comic, go deep. She's a real virtuoso."

"Readers looking for warmth and tenderness had best look elsewhere; the pleasures of these fictions come from McGarry's wit and intelligence as she casts a cold, subversive eye on her characters' dreams and on their, and our, realities."

"'Dream Date,' Jean McGarry's sixth book, contains stories that demand adjectives: delicate, complex, rich, surprising, artful, intellectual, frightening, surreal, powerful."

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