• Hardcover: 272 pages
• Publisher: Harper (October 7, 2014)
A refreshingly imaginative, daring debut collection of stories that illuminates with audacious wit the complexity of human behavior, and the veneer of civilization over our darkest urges.
Told with perfect rhythm and unyielding brutality, these stories expose unsuspecting men and women to the realities of nature, the primal instincts of man, and the dark humor and heartbreak of our struggle to not only thrive, but survive. In “Girl on Girl,” a high school freshman goes to disturbing lengths to help an old friend. An insatiable temptress pursues the one man she can’t have in “Meteorologist Dave Santana.” And in the title story, a long-fraught friendship comes undone when three buddies get impossibly lost on a lake it is impossible to get lost on. Below the quotidian surface of Diane Cook’s worlds lurks an unexpected surreality that reveals our most curious, troubling, and bewildering behavior.
Other stories explore situations pulled directly from the wild, imposing on human lives the danger, tension, and precariousness of the natural world: a pack of “not-needed” boys takes refuge in a murky forest where they compete against one another for their next meal; an alpha male is pursued through city streets by murderous rivals and desirous women; helpless newborns are snatched from their suburban yards by a man who stalks them. Through these characters Cook asks: What is at the root of our most heartless, selfish impulses? Why are people drawn together in such messy, needful ways? When the unexpected intrudes upon the routine, what do we discover about ourselves?
As entertaining as it is dangerous, this accomplished collection explores the boundary between the wild and the civilized, where nature acts as a catalyst for human drama and lays bare our vulnerabilities, fears, and desires.
Praise for Man V. Nature
“Diane Cook’s writing is sharp, bawdy, bold and often hilarious. Her stories are refreshingly crude and her imagination is unbounded. Like her characters, Cook does what she wants. Her world is another universe, where people are wilder.” —Rebecca Curtis, author of Twenty Grand: And Other Tales of Love and Money
“Masterful…Each darkly comic modern fable reveals our societal preoccupations — with status, sex, motherhood, belonging — for what they really are: thin veneers over our ever-present animal selves, ready to crack at the merest provocation. A book that’ll grab your attention and keep you thinking.” —Helene Wecker, author of The Golem and the Jinni
“Diane Cook’s stories are like high-wattage bulbs strung across a sinister, dark land. Man V. Nature is equal parts dazzle and depth.” —Ramona Ausubel, author of No One is Here Except All of Us and A Guide to Being Born
“Man V. Nature is as close to experiencing a Picasso as literature can get: the worlds in Diane Cook’s impressive debut are bizarre, vertiginous, funny, pushed to the extreme-but just familiar enough in their nuances of the human condition to evoke an irresistible, around-the-corner reality.” —Tea Obreht, author of The Tiger’s Wife
About Diane Cook
Diane Cook’s fiction has been published in Harper’s Magazine, Granta, Tin House,Zoetrope, One Story, Guernica, and elsewhere. Her nonfiction has appeared in the New York Times Magazine and on This American Life, where she worked as a radio producer for six years. She earned an MFA from Columbia University, where she was a Teaching Fellow. She lives in Oakland, California.
Follow Diane on Twitter.
Diane’s Tour Stops
Wednesday, October 15th: Book Hooked Blog
Thursday, October 16th: The Book Binder’s Daughter
Monday, October 20th: The Well-Read Redhead
Tuesday, October 21st: BoundbyWords
Wednesday, October 22nd: A Lovely Bookshelf on the Wall
Thursday, October 23rd: Svetlana’s Reads and Views
Tuesday, October 28th: No More Grumpy Bookseller
Wednesday, October 29th: Shelf Notes
Thursday, October 30th: Luxury Reading
Monday, November 3rd: Patricia’s Wisdom
Wednesday, November 5th: Buried in Print
Thursday, November 6th: Inner Workings of the Female Mind
Saturday, November 8th: guiltless reading
Monday, November 10th: A Bookish Way of Life
Tuesday, November 11th: missris