Thom Jones made his literary debut in The New Yorker in 1991. Within six months his stories appeared in Harper's, Esquire, Mirabella, Story, Buzz, and in The New Yorker twice more. "The Pugilist at Rest" - the title story from this stunning collection - took first place in Prize Stories 1993: The O. Henry Awards and was selected for inclusion in Best American Short Stories 1992. He is a writer of astonishing talent. Jones's stories - whether set in the combat zones of Vietnam or the brittle social and intellectual milieu of an elite New England college, whether recounting the poignant last battles of an alcoholic ex-fighter or the hallucinatory visions of an American wandering lost in Bombay in the aftermath of an epileptic fugue - are fueled by an almost brutal vision of the human condition, in a world without mercy or redemption. Physically battered, soul-sick, and morally exhausted, Jones's characters are yet unable to concede defeat: his stories are infused with the improbable grace of the spirit that ought to collapse, but cannot. For in these extraordinary pieces of fiction, it is not goodness that finally redeems us, but the heart's illogical resilience, and the ennobling tenacity with which we cling to each other and to our lives. The publication of The Pugilist at Rest is a major literary event, heralding the arrival of an electrifying new voice in American fiction, and a writer of magnificent depth and range. With these eleven stories, Thom Jones takes his place among the ranks of this country's most important authors.
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But in Jones's dark world, it's only temporary: ``human behavior...is an abomination.'' ``The Black Lights,'' set in a vet neuropsych ward, is a harrowing tale worthy of Chekhov, as the narrator chronicles his unmanning by grand mal seizures, depressions, and drugs.| Read Full Review of The Pugilist at Rest: Stories
One might have to reach back to Raymond Carver's Will You Please Be Quiet, Please? (which copped the National Book Award for fiction in 1976) to find a debut collection that is so compelling and origiMay 31 1993 | Read Full Review of The Pugilist at Rest: Stories
With references ranging from rock 'n' roll to Schopenhauer, from Dostoyevski to Joe Louis, Jones is sure to command a mighty audience--not only of literary readers, but also of people who did not know their stories could be told.| Read Full Review of The Pugilist at Rest: Stories
As Vietnam's horrors erupt in "Break on Through" and "The Black Lights," Jones exuberantly presents "the dull bap, bap, bap of AK-47 fire" and savors enough stomach-turning details to remind any sensible reader of the sixth-grade recess yard.Aug 09 1993 | Read Full Review of The Pugilist at Rest: Stories
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