In Middle Men, Stegner Fellow and New Yorker contributor Jim Gavin delivers a hilarious and panoramic vision of California, portraying a group of men, from young dreamers to old vets, as they make valiant forays into middle-class respectability. In “Play the Man” a high-school basketball player aspires to a college scholarship, in “Elephant Doors”, a production assistant on a game show moonlights as a stand-up comedian, and in the collection’s last story, the immensely moving “Costello”, a middle-aged plumbing supplies salesman comes to terms with the death of his wife. The men in Gavin’s stories all find themselves stuck somewhere in the middle, caught half way between their dreams and the often crushing reality of their lives. A work of profound humanity that pairs moments of high comedy with searing truths about life’s missed opportunities, Middle Men brings to life a series of unforgettable characters learning what it means to love and work and be in the world as a man, and it offers our first look at a gifted writer who has just begun teaching us the tools of his trade.
About the Author
Jim Gavin’s fiction has appeared in The New Yorker, The Paris Review, Zoetrope, ZYZZYVA, and Slice magazine. He lives in Los Angeles.
Praise for Middle Men: Stories…
“Middle Men deserves its hype and demonstrates a top-shelf talent….A brilliant sense of humor that animates each story and creates a state of near-continuous reading pleasure….A superlative debut.”
“Excellent….extremely entertaining….Gavin’s writing delivers jab after jab, the hilarious and the poignant mingling in compelling ways….He has a way of quickly and vividly drawing the minor characters who drift in and out of his stories….Overall, Gavin’s writing is eminently readable and reminiscent of some of Tom Perrotta’s best work.”
“With impressive precision, [Gavin] describes everything from being creatively unfulfilled to dodging landlords looking for back rent…. his writing achieves new insight, power and grace.”
“Who is Jim Gavin? The second coming of Denis Johnson if his debut collection is any indication. These sad, funny stories about nowhere men—some young, some bent-backed, all pained and searching for something they’ll never find—knocked me out….These short stories will transport you, will educate you, will entertain you, will fill you with fear and laughter and sadness.”
“Middle Men” aspires to do what ambitious fiction has always done: show the world (especially the world we think we know) in a way that's recognizable and revealing, while telling us something fundamental about where and how we live.”
“New Yorker contributor Jim Gavin's debut story collection, praised as "exceptional" in a starred Kirkus review, portrays a group of men whose dreams are at odds with the reality of their lives.”
“A book of hilarious and moving short stories from New Yorker contributor Gavin, who portrays a group of men of various ages in California as they try to find that space somewhere between their dreams and their actual lives.”
“A hilarious and moving debut of stories.”
“[A] superb debut collection….laugh-out-loud funny…. all of Gavin’s stories are gems….Middle Men [is], as all good collections should be, greater in total than merely a succession of well-crafted stories.”
“Middle Men is a fantastic book…The stories here that stick the hardest…are symphonic triumphs, gut-wrenchers of male life.”