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Animal Spirit: Stories (Vintage Contemporaries) (Paperback)
From the author of the acclaimed story collection The Other Language comes a fresh collection of six colorful, richly realized stories told with inimitable humor, exactitude, and heart.
Centered in Rome but transporting us into worlds as varied and alluring as they are emotionally real, Francesca Marciano’s stories paint landscapes that are populated—vividly, hauntingly—by animals: from violent seagulls and starlings circling the evening sky in exhilarating formation to magical snakes and a tiny dog on the side of a deserted road. In unforgettable, cinematic frames, events unfold, especially in the lives of women. An affair ends painfully at a dinner table, an actress’s past comes crashing down on her during an audition, an unhappy wife seeks respite in a historic palazzo sublet. Two starkly different couples imagine parenthood during a Greek island holiday and a young girl returns from rehab, deciding to set out anew with a traveling circus. A man in crisis draws his ex-lover deep into the New Mexico desert.
With spellbinding clarity, the six masterly stories in Animal Spirit inhabit the minds and hearts of Marciano’s characters. They chronicle deeply human moments of realization and recognition, indelible instants of irrevocable change—epiphanies sometimes sparked by our connection with animals and the primal power they show us.
About the Author
Francesca Marciano is the author of the novels Rules of the Wild, Casa Rossa, and The End of Manners, and the story collection The Other Language. She lives in Rome.
“Radiant . . . Marciano claims a spot beside the best practitioners of the form.”
—O, The Oprah Magazine
“This short story collection erupts from Francesca Marciano’s head like Athena sprang from Zeus’s, its tales both measured and erotic, and filled with predators and creatures and worrisome thoughts.”
“Really satisfying. . . . Exotic settings, wild animals, Italian details—thank you, Francesca Marciano.”
—Baltimore Public Radio
"[Animal Spirit] surprised me with its power. . . . [Marciano] is such a clear-eyed writer, showing with particular skill and compassion what makes her characters tick . . . [Animal Spirit is], in truth, about us—about all of the lovely and terrible things that make us human."
—Fredericksburg Freelance Star
“Francesca Marciano possesses . . . a special magic. . . . Marciano displays a spellbinding sense of control over her characters, and she does so with surprising brevity and well-composed pacing. . . . There’s a sense of confidence in each sentence that allows the reader to be as vulnerable as her characters. . . . A passionate, compelling exercise in the fine art of short fiction. It’s proof that the most intimate narratives are often the most powerful.”
“The fates of [her] characters are shaped by the animals whose lives intersect theirs. . . . Marciano is a master at making even the most seemingly banal settings seem forbiddingly foreign . . . and she excels at crafting conclusions that are both satisfying and enigmatic.”
“[A] sharp-eyed and effortlessly graceful collection. . . . Polished and compulsively readable, this is a real treat.”
—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“Vibrantly described. . . . Rich, leisurely. . . . Death’s lasting power echoes back through the stories, but Marciano’s closing lines offer hard-won hope. . . . Emotionally charged issues of commitment, loyalty, and trust explored with dry yet oddly comforting European wit.”
—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)