Books by Gregory Spatz

Gregory Spatz received his MFA from the Iowa Writers' Workshop. Previously, he taught fiction at the University of Iowa and the University of Memphis. No One But Us, his first novel, was published by Algonquin Books in 1995. Stories from his recent collec


FIDDLER’S DREAM by Gregory Spatz
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Aug. 1, 2006

"A dull, slow-moving second novel. "
A young fiddler leaves home with a twofold mission: to make it big in Nashville and to find his father. Read full book review >
WONDERFUL TRICKS by Gregory Spatz
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Sept. 1, 2002

"Romances that fizzle and fray, marriages gone bust, and teenagers trying to make sense of love—such are the all-too-human delights of this downbeat debut collection (winner of Mid-List's First Series Award for Short Fiction)."
The loneliness and awkwardness of single parenting—for the adolescent child and the parent—figure prominently in Spatz's earnest, understated collection of ten stories (all previously published), and continue the themes of his first novel, No One But Us (1995). Among several tales following this thread is "Lisa Picking Cockles," about an artist and his teenaged son who lead separate lives: the former pursues his art single-mindedly, leaving the boy to discover love on his own when a young woman comes to interview his dad and takes an interest in him. In "Walking in My Sleep," the parent-child combination is mother-son, with the son a witness to his mom's budding relationship with his swimming coach, watching uneasily as her hopes rise—and then are dashed when the coach fails to show up for the summer vacation he'd proposed. The title story takes a different tack, involving a woman married but estranged who makes an unusual request of the man painting the doors of her house, where she lives with her brain-damaged twin sister: that she and he have nightly, intimate physical contact, but no sex. "Plenty of Pools in Texas" has fewer sexual complications but ends no more optimistically, as another estranged wife starts an affair with a guy recovering from having his bicycle run off the road, then decides to get back with her husband. Read full book review >
NO ONE BUT US by Gregory Spatz
Released: Sept. 1, 1995

An amiable first novel that managesthrough an unobtrusive and extraordinarily controlled narrative voiceto breathe new life into the most standard coming-of-age plot. Charlie, the narrator, begins his story at his own adolescence (he's 15), a stage of life that he bears with a good grace in spite of its enormities. Abandoned by his father shortly after he was born, Charlie has been raised by a mother whose inherent decency and natural affection for him are overwhelmed by her own desolation and despair. After a poor attempt at suicide, she's hospitalized, and Charlie is put in the temporary care of her best friend, the 26-year-old Jolene, who rapidly falls in love with the boy and seduces him. The affair is still in full force when Charlie's mother returns home, and he is suddenly back living with her. Shortly thereafter, however, Jolene disappears without a word and is not heard from again for about five years. By this time, Charlie, now living outside Philadelphia, has drifted into the cynical ennui of the frustrated romantic: ``I was suddenly more depressed than I'd been in a long time...nothing was turning out like I'd imagined. Nothing in the store where I worked mattered to me. And I tried to think of something that did matter, but there was nothing....`This is my life,' I said, `and it is not very interesting.' '' Then a friend named Angel convinces Charlie that he needs to confront Jolene to get over her, and so the two set off cross-country to San Francisco to track her down. Charlie's final discovery and ultimate resolution are predictable and traditionalbut utterly convincing for all that. Spatz has no real surprises in store, but, instead, wisely concentrates on the niceties of description and characterization rather than plot. What we are left with finally is a marvelously quiet evocation (as opposed to narration) of a young man's awakening. Simple, precise, and rewarding work, nicely understated and free from contrivance. Read full book review >