New and Selected Stories

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Book Description

Shortlisted for the Pacific Northwest Book Award

“Urgent, unnerving and tightly packed short fiction that covers enough ground for a library of novels.” —The New York Times Book Review, Editors’ Choice

Valerie Trueblood’s writing has been praised by The New York Times as “an exercise in literary restraint and extreme empathy.” Selected here are stories from her previous collections—finalists for the PEN/Faulkner Award and the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award—alongside her newest collection, which lends this book its name.

The new stories collected within Terrarium represent an exciting direction for the author: a condensing of narrative and, in some cases, a departure from it into another state of mind.

It’s hard to describe any of Trueblood’s stories as “typical.” She does not write about people from a single class, or caste, or geographical area. She has not written a single story emblematic of her work. She does not write stories fantastical or eccentric. Ordinary life, her stories may be saying, is fantastical enough. She is more like Babel than Chekhov. In all her writing, it’s clear that Trueblood believes that the short story can carry both the lightest and heaviest of loads. Terrarium highlights the achievement of simply living, the stories within often unresolved but in a state of continuation, expansion. Trueblood’s stories aren’t merely about their subjects, they’re inside them.

About the Author

Praise For This Book

The New York Times Book Review, Editor's Choice
Shortlisted for the 2019 Pacific Northwest Book Award
1 of 10 Books to Read in August (BBC Culture)

“Trueblood’s stories are like the Tardis in Dr. Who. They’re small on the outside, but once you’ve stepped through the door they expand in all directions until, by the end, surely it’s a novel you just finished reading . . . Urgent and unnerving.” —The New York Times Book Review

Terrarium [is] a career–spanning collection that brings together her classic work and dozens of new stories. It’s a statement piece, a book that seems to be intended to mark her as a real American master of the short story.” —The Seattle Review of Books

“The 49 stories here . . . speak to Trueblood’s mastery and the spaciousness of her vision.” —BBC Culture, 1 of 10 Books to Read in August

“If you’re unfamiliar with Seattle author Valerie Trueblood, her new book, Terrarium: New and Selected Stories, offers a fine introduction. It handpicks tales from her three previous collections, Marry or Burn, Search Party: Stories of Rescue and Criminals: Love Stories, and rounds them out with new and more experimental pieces . . . Trueblood is at her best when deciphering ambiguities of the heart. She makes uncertainty luminous. She’s also wonderful on the geography of Seattle, where many of the stories are set.” —Crosscut

“In the meantime, there’s more to Trueblood than her word count. Even her short–short stories—mere fragments of a feeling or memory . . . underline the most distinctive quality of her work. Even the longest stories go light on plot and read more like meditations that flow downstream, carrying with them the remembrance of things past, the mysterious alchemy of relationships and the elusive nature of love . . . In total, Terrarium is a compendium of thoughtful and often insightful pieces that deal with the most incomprehensible parts of our being.” —The Seattle Times

“Urgent, unnerving and tightly packed short fiction that covers enough ground for a library of novels.” —The New York Times Book Review, Editors' Choice

“This big collection gives readers—whether new to Trueblood’s work, or not—a great overview of her accomplished, varied style.” —Omnivoracious, One of Four New Story Collections from Innovative Women Writers

“Selections from three previous collections, as well as 30 new stories (also headed “Terrarium”) comprise this excellent volume from Trueblood . . . Across these 49 stories, Trueblood provides breadth, depth, and something even more—a window into her evolution as a writer. The earlier stories bear resemblance to Alice Munro’s, while the later are reminiscent of Lydia Davis’s; but throughout, Trueblood projects her own unique voice.” —Publishers Weekly

“A new collection from one of our finest short story writers, preceded by condensed versions of her last three books . . . There are indeed some great stories here, praised for their unsettling combination of empathy and ruthlessness, for their elegant, uncommonly quick development, for their diverse, unexpected subject matter . . . She is still a cleareyed and compassionate reporter of the complexities and contradictions of human nature.” —Kirkus Reviews

Terrarium offers a landmark collection of stories from a distinguished author . . . Closing out the collection is a substantial set of new stories and vignettes, which feature notably succinct ruminations that manage to capture the nuance of her earlier works . . . Trueblood’s stories question, explore, and expose as they offer unexpected connections and deeply human realizations.” —Booklist