Jack Gorse, amateur botanist and New York City flanêur, walls off his inner life with elaborate rituals and routines. When he is caught off-guard by an attraction to another man, a near stranger, the consequences are destabilizing and dramatic.
“I am amazed and moved by Pamela Erens’s The Understory. It brings to mind (and stands up well next to) such literary ancestors as Hamsun’s Hunger, or Beckett’s stories of the evicted, but it is uniquely tender in its treatment of the isolated mind’s quest to keep alive what is most radiant and most fragile in the face of the brutal catastrophe of reality. Erens brings extraordinary powers of empathy and technical mastery to the character of Jack Gorse–normally the person we pass on the street and, after a token moment of pity, attempt to forget as rapidly as possible. In this book there is no turning away from him, or more accurately and terribly, from the world as he perceives it.”
— Franz Wright, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Walking to Martha’s Vineyard
“This is a strange, haunting meditation on aloneness and the melancholy of frustrated love, written knowingly about a character bereft of self-knowledge. The language is precise and considered, the mood sustained, the effect at once narrative and poetic. A lovely, elegant debut novel.”
–Andrew Solomon, winner of the National Book Award for The Noonday Demon
“hauntingly abject … skillfully rendered … a sensitive, restrained debut.”
–;Publishers Weekly, June 11, 2007
(Click here for the full review–scroll down.)
To read more praise for The Understory, click here.
To read a brief excerpt from The Understory, click here
Gaarg. Gaarrgh. Gak
a short story
a short story
Many women today want desperately to breastfeed their babies. What happens when desperation isn’t enough? A personal narrative.