Music Through the Floor by Eric Puchner

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With Music Through the Floor, Pushcart Prize winner and former Wallace Stegner Fellow Eric Puchner makes an extraordinary debut: a collection of nine unforgettable stories -- strikingly original, fiercely funny, and quietly heartbreaking -- portraying a group of cultural misfits attempting to navigate mainstream America.

Lost, teetering on the edge of normalcy, Puchner's characters seek to define themselves in a frequently absurd and hostile world -- a world that threatens to make outcasts of us all. Caught up in loneliness or solitude, they can't quite hear the music of their own lives.

In "Children of God," a young loner becomes the caretaker and companion for two mentally retarded men, seeking solace in their outsider status. "Essay #3: Leda and the Swan" is told in the forlorn, be-nighted, and tragically funny voice of a high school girl who longs more than anything to be loved. In "Mission," an idealistic ESL teacher is faced with the inscrutable wrath of one of his immigrant students. And in the unsettling "Child's Play," Puchner explores the price of nonconformity by following a pack of boys wreaking havoc on Halloween.

Writing from an impressive range of perspectives -- men and women, children and adults, immigrants and tourists -- Puchner deftly exposes the dark, ten-der undersides of his characters with arresting beauty and precision. Here are people fumbling for identity in a depersonalized world, captured in moments that are hilarious, shocking, and transcendent -- sometimes all at once. Unfailingly true, surprisingly moving, and impossible to forget, these nine stories mark the arrival of a brilliant young writer and one of our most promising literary voices.

About Eric Puchner

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Eric Puchner is an assistant professor of literature at Claremont McKenna College.  He has received a Pushcart Prize and a National Endowment for the Arts grant.  His short story collection, Music Through the Floor, was a finalist for the NY Public Library’s Young Lions Award.  He lives in Los Angeles with his wife, novelist Katharine Noel, and their children.
Published July 24, 2007 by Scribner. 240 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Music Through the Floor


By the end, the reader is thoughtful at the implications of their actions and haunted by their subsequent future.Puchner refuses to pander to his readers, and he faces the truths of the world with honesty.

Sep 08 2014 | Read Full Review of Music Through the Floor: Stories

Deseret News

The clerk dips in the tank for the fish, but the father is unsatisfied and takes the net and tries to catch the right fish himself — but it's always the wrong catch.

Jan 08 2006 | Read Full Review of Music Through the Floor: Stories

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