Life’s private reflections, big and small, shape and define the characters in Eliot Treichel’s debut short story collection. Rural Wisconsin—the lonely, aching expanse of quiet isolation—doubles as a metaphor for the characters who yearn for a closeness in personal relationships that is just out of grasp. A rivalry between lumberjacks reaches a sticky end. A man’s substandard work on his house mirrors his halfhearted attempt to fix his marriage. A little girl’s valorous rescue of mice is lost on her unsentimental father. High school soccer teams, bear cubs, dog sledding—all are masterfully woven together in a landscape that becomes a character in itself. Treichel expertly captures the voice of the individual, allowing any individual, anywhere, who has felt the inescapable pangs of loneliness, to connect to his characters’ aching hearts and quiet plights.
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Praise for Close is Fine
These stories, with their spare prose, characters eking out a living with no time or inclination to self-reflect, helped me understand a foreign place and worldview, a big part of America, that isn’t really far away at all. — The Oregonian
“The stories in Close is Fine are a rare treat: vivid and voice-driven, sometimes hilarious and often heartbreaking, with surprising perceptions on every page…Eliot Treichel’s characters are all complexly flawed and deeply human.”
—Scott Nadelson, author of Aftermath and Saving Stanley: The Brickman Stories
ʺI’ve been a fan of Treichel’s fiction for years; but this book exceeded all my expectations. Close Is Fine is a beautiful, big-hearted, and hilarious collection. It features firemen, handymen, bear-wrestlers, and noble barflies, all doing the best they can. Treichel’s stories wander the fields, forests, and small towns of the Midwest like an Elizabethan balladeer: steadily amassing the vital, oft-ignored literature of the ninety-nine percent.ʺ
—Tyler McMahon, author of How the Mistakes Were Made
“The gleeful destruction of this collection’s first pages is an early warning that you’re entering a world like no other. Not just a world where a car battery might be thrown through a storm window for fun, but one where ‘I think I have issues with your thought process’ is usually meant as a kind of compliment. The stories of Close Is Fine could not be so funny if they weren’t also so sad, and their energy is always tempered by a narration of sharp reflection and clear, sure-footed prose. This is what I admire most about the book—the tension between the intelligence and control of the storytelling and the mistakes, the lack of control in the actions of the characters he tells us about. These are consistently provocative stories, stories of a very high order.”
—Peter Rock, author of My Abandonment
“This splendid collection of stories is part thrill-ride, part ethnographic field study, and part love song, filled with Wisconsin firemen, lumberjacks, pining lovers, wrestling bears, Native American revolutionaries, eloquent philanderers, [and] downtrodden soccer teams. Eliot Treichel is a master ventriloquist, able to summon and sustain an amazing range of voices, and to let his characters tell their glorious and surprisingly wise stories with their own idiosyncratic eloquence.”
—K.L. Cook, author of Love Songs for the Quarantined and Last Call