Liam Callanan, author of the critically acclaimed novels The Cloud Atlas and All Saints, returns with a short story collection that crosses decades, oceans and continents in pursuit of stories that, like its title suggests, are more than worthy of a listen.
An excerpt from “The Bear Hunter” from Listen and Other Stories:
Eddie had fought hard. At least for a little while, at least as long as he thought it was just some of the other guys messing with his tent, trying to poke and punch him through the thin nylon shell. He was the new boy; he could have expected this, especially because he had a hoard of candy that he wasn’t sharing. But now the hoard was gone. The bear had eaten some, scattered the rest, and wandered off, as if bored by all the blood, which fascinated me. I know that’s a strange word to use, fascinated, but I was, I am, at how empty and motionless that boy was. I don’t mean Eddie. I mean the kid next to him. I mean me.
“Over and over Callanan finds that moment when a character’s past, their deepest longings, their most intimate fears, emerge from the floodwaters of daily life and stand exposed. These richly imagined and beautifully written stories transport the reader from TV studios to lonely woods, from an old convent to a new gym, from wartime Alaska to the beach at Santa Monica. The result is a wonderfully readable and hugely pleasurable collection.” — Margot Livesey
“What a wide-ranging, inventive collection Liam Callanan has given us. In page after page, he conjures striking characters and places–recent and historical, domestic and foreign–that quickly grow visceral and real. Listen to these lovely stories, indeed; each one is memorable, and each one different from the last.” — Alix Ohlin
“Here is what makes these stories necessary and timeless: Liam Callanan’s incisive ability to render not just our desires and the choices we make to fulfill or thwart those desires, but the mystery behind those choices. These stories glow, backlit by the author’s generous and discriminating vision, his ability to contrast doubt and faith in our actions and interactions, all in the service of an abiding grace. And lest all of the above sound unduly serious, let me assure you: there is humor here of the most vital stripe, wherein halfway through your laughter you realize you’re laughing not only at the characters, but at your own foolish, if well-intentioned, ways.” — Michael Parker
“In his new Listen and Other Stories, MKE author Liam Callanan begs for an ear. He has a willing set right here. The protagonists in these disparate, nuanced stories are connected by the universal need to be heard. That moment might be precipitated by an event, life-changing (such as the gay man who captures his lover’s last breath inside a balloon) or not. We’re bystanders, pulled along eagerly only knowing so much. But enough. Callanan, a professor in the English department at UW-Milwaukee, explores ‘voice’, letting events unfold without resorting to pathos. Listen carefully.” — Ann Christenson, Milwaukee Magazine, March 2015
“A scout who horded candy faces the wrath of a bear. A sister’s jealousy has fatal consequences. An arts critic refuses to join a tradition of going pantsless on an anchor’s last day. A lot of the folks in Liam Callanan’s fine new collection of stories are on the cusp of making important decisions. And perhaps those decisions are a bit constricting, and just to amplify that point , a number of characters are physically trapped, whether in a locked mausoleum, a tent with a ferocious bear outside, a dilapidated convent on fire, or in a home being flooded by dam. Past decisions are equally debilitating, and that sometimes leads to an attempt to preserve the lost, perhaps through their voices, or their breath. Whatever their foibles, it’s hard not to connect with the life-infused characters of Listen and Other Stories, blessed as they are with the author’s grace and good humor.” — Boswell Book Company
“Liam Callanan’s Listen is aptly titled, as its effect is a quiet one. Quietly haunting, to be more precise; these stories have a great way of getting under the skin and lingering beyond the final page. With great compassion for his characters, Callanan meets them at a series of critical points, getting into their heads with precision and finding warmth, humor, sorrow, grief, and fear.” Read the full review.
“…Within this haunting sound, one could find, writes Callanan, ‘the DNA of that world’s entire moment.’ It’s an apt description of Callanan’s own skill, which he displays in stories about death, love, loneliness, and, ultimately, the human condition.” Read the full review.