The Man Back There, David’s second collection of short fiction, was awarded the Mary McCarthy Prize in Short Fiction in 2007. Selected by judge Mary Gaitskill from over 400 manuscripts, the collection is a nuanced portrayal of nine very different–but also very similar–men living on the margins of society.
In her introduction to The Man Back There, Gaitskill writes simply,
“I chose these stories because they made me feel. . .”
Andre Dubus III, Author of the best-selling House of Sand and Fog, says of The Man Back There,
“In this virtuoso collection of stories, David Crouse guides us directly to where the shadow lies – the disorienting loss, the surprising heartache, the forgotten wound – those inevitable areas of the psyche we all share and through which only truth, illuminated with a such a light touch here, can deliver us; The Man Back There and Other Stories is the work of the real thing.”
The reader of David Crouse’s collection is bound to agree, but the reasons are not easily explained. Crouse crawls inside the heads of a collection of male protagonists and tells us how they think. They are not always likeable. They are often losers-their thoughts hurry ahead or dawdle behind, disconnected from what little action occurs around them.
And yet, somehow, we wince for the dog-catcher who crashes his ex-wife’s Thanksgiving dinner in “The Castle on the Hill.” We sympathize with the latch-key kid who pillages toys in a dead boy’s closet in “Show and Tell.” And in “Posterity,” we find it hard to condemn a ninety-two-year-old senator trying to salvage his career after his ex-wife publishes a scandalous tell-all book about his life.
In this deceptively quiet collection, the truth is something that simmers up through what is not said. A hero is a man who saves himself from himself, who placates his temper with self-awareness and, most importantly, self-forgiveness. The Man Back There is a feat of empathy and razor sharp vision.
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