American Masculine by Shann Ray
Stories

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Synopsis

Winner of the 2010 Bakeless Prize for Fiction, a muscular debut that reconfigures the American West

The American West has long been a place where myth and legend have flourished. Where men stood tall and lived rough. But that West is no more. In its place Shann Ray finds washedup basketball players, businessmen hiding addictions, and women fighting the inexplicable violence that wells up in these men. A son struggles to accept his father’s apologies after surviving a childhood of beatings. Two men seek empty basketball hoops on a snowy night, hoping to relive past glory. A bull rider skips town and rides herd on an unruly mob of passengers as he searches for a thief on a train threading through Montana’s Rocky Mountains.

In these stories, Ray grapples with the terrible hurt we inflict on those we love, and finds that reconciliation, if far off, is at least possible. The debut of a writer who is out to redefine the contours of the American West, American Masculine is a deeply felt and fiercely written ode to the country we left behind.
 

About Shann Ray

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Shann Ray holds a PhD in psychology from the University of Alberta. His work has appeared in McSweeney's, Narrative Magazine, and Story Quarterly. He teaches at Gonzaga University, and lives in Washington State.
 
Published June 21, 2011 by Graywolf Press. 203 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for American Masculine

Kirkus Reviews

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Ray's stories resonate hard and clear, very much word images reflecting the Montana setting of the collection.

May 04 2011 | Read Full Review of American Masculine: Stories

Publishers Weekly

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Ray's engrossing collection is set in and around rugged Montana terrain and trades heavily in themes of pain, forgiveness, reconciliation, and hope.

Apr 18 2011 | Read Full Review of American Masculine: Stories

Kirkus Reviews

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Shann Ray won the Bakeless Prize for his book of short stories, American Masculine, a collection that is most welcome on our Best Fiction of 2011 list: “Almost every story is set under the great blue steel dome of the Montana sky.

Nov 13 2011 | Read Full Review of American Masculine: Stories

Star Tribune

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Ray's capable debut collection of short fiction captures the grief and heartbreak of contemporary life in the rural American West.

Jun 25 2011 | Read Full Review of American Masculine: Stories

AV Club

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Given how many stories in the anthology American Masculine center on the ways entrenched family conflict poisons the lives of those it touches, it isn’t surprising to find out that Shann Ray teaches leadership and forgiveness studies at Gonzaga University, a Jesuit school in Washington state.

Jul 27 2011 | Read Full Review of American Masculine: Stories

Washington Independent Review of Books

Montana is the epicenter of the America Shann Ray evokes in his debut story collection, American Masculine.

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Open Letters Monthly

Seven stories into Shann Ray’s new short story collection American Masculine we get “In the Half Light,” which is dedicated to the author’s brother and starts like this: “Seven days after Devin graduated with honors from Montana State University his father stood over him and broke his nose.

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City Book Review

Poignantly recounted by Ray, the stories read as elegies, both for the damaged lives of the characters and to Montana itself, which is no longer what it used to be (and maybe never was).

Oct 04 2011 | Read Full Review of American Masculine: Stories

Bookmarks Magazine

In its place Shann Ray finds washedup basketball players, businessmen hiding addictions, and women fighting the inexplicable violence that wells up in these men.

Jun 26 2011 | Read Full Review of American Masculine: Stories

Fiction Writers Review

With a title like that, I thought, you’d better have a gay man in Chelsea, a drag queen in Flint, a straight man watching a hired man wash his yacht, a man living out of the back of a Volvo in a Wal-Mart parking lot, a Hispanic man washing dishes, a Hispanic man climbing the corporate ladder;

May 15 2012 | Read Full Review of American Masculine: Stories

Full Stop

The Montana men of Shann Ray’s debut collection American Masculine: Stories drink and hunt, wrestle steers and reckon with fathers who beat their wives.

Jun 22 2011 | Read Full Review of American Masculine: Stories

The Kenyon Review

As well shoot you as look at you.” His mother claims that his father sees “the world darkly, and people darker still,” and she asks the boy to “find the good.” As in many stories in American Masculine, children inherit the conflicting masculine and feminine perspectives of their father and mother;

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High Country News

And getting it right in this book means realizing a powerful truth, one that Sender recalls from van Gogh's letters: "The greatest work of art is to love someone."

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Reader Rating for American Masculine
82%

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