the bostons

This highly anticipated debut collection tells hilarious and often savage truths about people struggling within the confines of history, society, and class.

Mr. Sargent, the aging Brahmin aesthete of the title story, scribbles his epiphanies on cocktail napkins and covers them up with his drinks. A Maine innkeeper shoots his wife, who remains bitterly faithful to him. A whole family conspires to keep the birth of yet another dirt-poor relation a secret. On the icy cobblestone streets of Boston and the Rockbound coast of Maine, these vividly realized characters try to reconcile habits of obedience and self-reliance with the urgent desire to capture the wild core of life. The result is an explosion of exquisitely tuned voices, as authentic as they are unforgettable.

Weird, slightly cracked, yet chiseled and often luminous, Carolyn Cooke’s debut collection of short fiction grabs you right away, gathers force and leaves little holes in your heart. . . . A latter-day Grace Paley. . . . Fresh and fierce. . . . Cooke is an interesting writer who is somehow able to use simply etched prose to create an effect of thickness; as in much of the best short fiction, one can read deeply into what she leaves unsaid.
— The Los Angeles Times
“A small masterpiece of black humor.
- The Washington Times
“There is a certain kind of story writer who delights in seeing the world at an angle, keeping the reader off balance with narrative feints and unsettling - often comical - asides. Grace Paley is one master of this use of the form; Lorrie Moore is another. In her bold debut collection, The Bostons, Carolyn Cooke seems to take inspiration from such tale-tellers: these are stories that often begin bewilderingly and end suddenly, each one a darting excursion into the troubled but dogged lives of her New England characters. . . . Vibrant with moments of sharp description and acerbic asides. . . . A salty vividness . . . a brisk realism.”
- The New York Times Book Review
“Moving . . . beautifully observed.”
- The Boston Globe
“Gleaming artfulness . . . Cooke's fading old Bostonians share a puzzlement that lurks in our own more universal calendars.”
- The New York Times