Ausubel's stories are the drunk uncle at Thanksgiving: attention-grabbing, amusing, casually insightful. The suspension of disbelief is a tough undertaking for me but plausibility never even factored in given the author's storytelling sophistication. No matter how fantastic the conceit, the stories are full of such emotional authenticity and their underlying points dressed so beautifully, the collection is an undeniable pleasure.
Reminiscent of Aimee Bender and Karen Russell, from the author of the new collection, Awayland—an enthralling book of stories that uses the world of the imagination to explore the heart of the human condition.
Major literary talent Ramona Ausubel, author of Sons and Daughters of Ease and Plenty, combines the otherworldly wisdom of her much-loved debut novel, No One Is Here Except All of Us, with the precision of the short-story form. A Guide to Being Born is organized around the stages of life—love, conception, gestation, birth—and the transformations that happen as people experience deeply altering life events, falling in love, becoming parents, looking toward the end of life. In each of these eleven stories Ausubel’s stunning imagination and humor are moving, entertaining, and provocative, leading readers to see the familiar world in a new way.
In “Atria” a pregnant teenager believes she will give birth to any number of strange animals rather than a human baby; in “Catch and Release” a girl discovers the ghost of a Civil War hero living in the woods behind her house; and in “Tributaries” people grow a new arm each time they fall in love. Funny, surprising, and delightfully strange—all the stories have a strong emotional core; Ausubel’s primary concern is always love, in all its manifestations.
About the Author
Ramona Ausubel is a graduate of the MFA program at the University of California, Irvine. She is the author of Awayland, Sons and Daughters of Ease and Plenty, and No One Is Here Except All of Us. Her work has been published in The New Yorker, One Story, The Paris Review Daily, Best American Fantasy, and elsewhere, and has received special mentions in The Best American Short Stories and The Best American Nonrequired Reading. She has been longlisted for The Frank O'Connor Short Story Prize, and a finalist for the New York Public Library Young Lions award and the Pushcart Prize.
"Each story in this collection finds a way to record the tensions between the corporeal and the invisible, the forces that animate us but ultimately can’t be dissected, our anti-anatomies. The dismay of coming to the final page is easily combated by following the example of Ausubel’s characters and beginning all over again."—The New York Times Book Review
“Aggressively imaginative.”—The New York Times
"Lyrical stories arranged around themes of birth, gestation, conception and love. . . . Ausubel has a gift of language so rich that even the most mundane events are invested with poetry, and many of her characters are in need of all the poetry they can muster."—Kirkus
"Ausubel is a master stylist of vibrant, concise prose, and these stories, with love most often at their cores, can be appreciated for that alone."—Booklist
"These stories reminded me of branches full of cherry blossoms: fresh, delicate, beautiful, expressive, otherworldly. I eagerly read from one story to the next."—Aimee Bender