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Jon Raymond

Livability

Jon Raymond Livability
$10.50 New
 
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A collection of rich, powerfully human stories from the author of The Half-Life and the movies Old Joy (“one of the finest American films of the year”—New York Times) and Wendy and Lucy.

A grieving man embarks on a long-imagined affair in the months following his wife’s unexpected death. Two old friends attempt to rediscover their lost bond on a trip to remote mountain hot springs. Two teenagers, trapped in a mall after hours, push each other to new levels of honesty and sexual misconduct.

In Jon Raymond’s deft, nuanced stories, these and other characters experience the deep longings and sudden insights of life in a modern, middle-sized city—a world of rapidly changing neighborhoods, rising financial pressures, and chance encounters shaped by far-distant forces. Whether kids or carpenters, artists or drifters, all have arrived at a crossroads, seeking what they need to survive and finding what, if necessary, they are willing to live without. With poetic detail and a humane spirit, Livability draws a somber, wryly observed portrait of America now.

“Like another Raymond—Raymond Carver—Jon Raymond’s realism is reflective without being reflexive, trading artifice and the wink-nudge of clever framing for genuine pathos and the organic trajectory of human drama.  The stories in Livability feel real because they’re believable, and believable because they’re never sensational.”                —Metroland

 

“Raymond is a prose maximalist. Although his characters have difficulty relating to each other, they relate to the reader with unbuttoned, occasionally garrulous, intimacy. To the reader alone, they entrust their memories, thoughts, feelings, landscape descriptions, even as they explain to the reader why these private riches can't be shared with the person closest to them in the story. The cumulative effect of this, extended over nine stories, is to immerse the reader in a varied society of compulsive and fluent interior monologuists, who experience their lives with articulate intensity, but find it uphill work to communicate satisfactorily with their fellow loners.”  —New York Review of Books

 

“It’s that pitch-perfect description of human interaction that gives these stories depth; in the best ones, a rich evocation of setting make them whole.”  —Minneapolis Star Tribune

 

“Raymond possesses a keen sensitivity…where he succeeds most is in conveying a broad cultural and specific individual ennui, while still managing to retain narrative interest.  What marks just about all of these stories is the sympathy with which the author treats his characters, muddling through the gloom in search of better days.”   —Austin Chronicle

 

 “There is a raw immediacy to Raymond's narrative voice. It has a depressive quality that lends credence to his characterizations, which are often about people who are disagreeable, cut off, rough-edged and lost.”   —Denver Post

 

“[Raymond’s] third person limited point of view skims existential drift with delicate precision.  Livability's plots are liminal hooks, awash in the overcast Oregon sky.”         —San Francisco Bay Guardian

 

“Raymond's tales remain as quietly engrossing in their natural, printed habitat as they do upon a screen. They expand the scope of characters from cultural outsiders and lanky ne'er-do-wells to include members of the moneyed upper class, grieving spouses and young boys confronted by ""shared torpor and sudden enthusiasms.""  Comparisons to the self-consciously hardscrabble Northwest of Raymond Carver will certainly be made, but it's the poems of Richard Hugo, born in the Seattle suburb of White Center, to whom these stories feel the most connected. Like Hugo's lovingly practical images of nature and bleak, localized stasis, Raymond's work floats just beside the realm of possibility, often ending as a character is teetering dramatically on the precipice of something. With Raymond, as with Hugo, we glimpse lives in suspension, and the effect, by the book's end, is dizzying.”   —Los Angeles Times

 

“The lives of the folks in Jon Raymond’s Livability are clouded by longing and lit with rare flashes of grace.”  —Vanity Fair

 

“Jon Raymond is a real find—his work evokes that of the late Raymond Carver, the king of what was once called Kmart fiction. His stories are moving, real and discomfiting.”    —Chicago Tribune (Elizabeth Taylor)

 

“This enticing collection pulses with the intensity of its diverse characters and the affliction that comes part and parcel with decisions, large or small, that they make at life’s junctures.  Raymond’s nine stories are delicately refined and sublimely electric.”  —Booklist

 

“Jon Raymond is a master at re-creating those feelings of unease and confusion that arise when relationships are at their most precarious.  His artful rendering of life’s defining moments reveals how we are all engaged in ceaseless self-evaluation.”   —Bookforum

“Raymond’s strength is his sensitivity, his ability to chart minute shifts and nuances… Realism, perceptively delivered.”  —Kirkus

“These nine gorgeous stories from novelist and screenwriter Raymond find pallid Northwesterners testing the moral perimeters of their decent lives.”   —Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“These stories stick with me and rival my own memories of inertia, isolation and wild invention in the Pacific Northwest. And like real life, they head in one direction but always end up in another. Jon Raymond has an impressive ability to recognize the tales that we all tell ourselves, and then quietly lead us back to reality—excruciatingly familiar and usually rainy.”—Miranda July, author of No One Belongs Here More Than You

“Raymond's tales remain as quietly engrossing in their natural, printed habitat as they do upon a screen. They expand the scope of characters from cultural outsiders and lanky ne'er-do-wells to include members of the moneyed upper class, grieving spouses and young boys confronted by ""shared torpor and sudden enthusiasms.""  Comparisons to the self-consciously hardscrabble Northwest of Raymond Carver will certainly be made, but it's the poems of Richard Hugo, born in the Seattle suburb of White Center, to whom these stories feel the most connected. Like Hugo's lovingly practical images of nature and bleak, localized stasis, Raymond's work floats just beside the realm of possibility, often ending as a character is teetering dramatically on the precipice of something. With Raymond, as with Hugo, we glimpse lives in suspension, and the effect, by the book's end, is dizzying.”—Los Angeles Times

“Jon Raymond is a real find—his work evokes that of the late Raymond Carver, the king of what was once called Kmart fiction. His stories are moving, real and discomfiting.”—Chicago Tribune

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