The very best short stories and novellas from National Public Radio’s Alan Cheuse are brought together in a quintessential collection. Countless listeners depend on the book reviews from Cheuse, America’s “voice of books,” and many of those listeners also follow his own critically acclaimed fiction and nonfiction. The title story—a flash fiction piece that acts as both prologue and an intriguing look at a writer’s inspiration—takes us through a child’s eyes into a fantastic land, one that informs, shapes, and travels along with the other stories in this stunning collection. These stories deal with life, death, love, family, work, and a deep exploration of the soul.
“Some collections of short stories have recurring characters; some can be considered disconnected novels. Cheuse’s is neither of those things. Each story is separate and a bit isolated from those before and after, but with a consistent underlying emphasis on perspective. The very brief title piece establishes this theme with a description of the magic of vision, belief, and hope. Most stories are about men and their perceptions of the world, but one depicts a dancer, come to New York for surgery to restore her mobility, and her wild and dangerous attempt to escape. Cheuse embodies personas of real people, photographer Ansel Adams for one, young Ben Franklin for another. There are oddities: a man skipping work and having a pedicure with his wife, a Jewish publisher attending a bizarre Christmas party in order to meet with an author, and forays into the fiction of Herman Melville. The array of time, place, and character amply display Cheuse’s prowess and imagination, making for a freighted collection.” –Danise Hoover. Booklist
“These stories cross borders of place and time, but no matter where they lead, the location is a lucid, tangible present. As travelers go, Cheuse, a humanist, is too at home in the world to mine the exotic; but as stylists go, the artful cadence of his prose and the intense focus of each story belongs to a tradition that runs from Hemingway and Dos Passos through Paul Bowles.”
—Stuart Dybek, author, I Sailed with Magellan
“Cheuse’s sinuously versatile new collection is eerie, funny, and moving.”
—Jennifer Egan, author, A Visit from the Goon Squad
“Readers can slip into An Authentic Captain Marvel Ring & Other Stories with the assurance that they will get the best of both worlds; grounded fiction about people you might know, or wish you did not know, or might actually sort-of be, but seen with a clarity and imagination that one might find in a rather different genre. Here’s a book you can read with the assurance that you will know more about your own soul going out than coming in. Depending on how you feel about such things, replace the word “assurance” with the word ‘warning.'”