From the author of Daughters of the Revolution and The Bostons (winner of the PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize for fiction) come eleven stories about sex and death, violence and desire, love and madness, set in a vast American landscape that ranges from the largest private residence in Manhattan to the lush rain forests and marijuana farms of Northern California.
In “Francis Bacon,” an aspiring writer learns essential lessons from an aging pornographer. In “The Snake,” a restless Jungian analyst sheds one existence after another. In “The Boundary,” a muralist falls in love with a troubled boy from the rez. In the surreal “She Bites,” a man builds an architecturally distinguished doghouse as his wife slowly transforms. And in the transcendent, three-part title story, two best friends face their strange fates, linked by a determination to wrest meaning and coherence from lives spiraling out of control.
At once philosophical and compulsively readable, Amor and Psycho dives into our darkest spaces, confronting the absurdity, poetry and brutality of human existence.
About the Author
Carolyn Cooke’s Daughters of the Revolution was listed among the best novels of 2011 by the San Francisco Chronicle and The New Yorker. Her short fiction, collected in The Bostons, won the PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize, was a finalist for the PEN/Hemingway Award and has appeared in AGNI, The Paris Review and two volumes each of The Best American Short Stories and The PEN/O. Henry Prize Stories. She directs the MFA writing program at the California Institute of Integral Studies in San Francisco.
Praise for Amor and Psycho…
“Taut and gorgeous . . . Cooke approaches the subjects of sex and death, desire and illness, and the borderland between sanity and madness, civilization and the wild with a directness that is both disarming and enthralling . . . Her willingness to follow her characters to places of mystery, wonder, pain and confusion makes the experience of reading these intense, remarkable stories a deeply empathic one.”
—San Francisco Chronicle
“Luxurious. . . . The core of Cooke’s fiction is a subtle perversion, as well as a kind of sensual intelligence that is reminiscent of a writer like Mary Gaitskill.”
“Stories with edge.”
—The Houston Chronicle
“There is love in these stories, but mostly crazy love: off-kilter and temporary, not a quiet, permanent refuge. . . . Cooke’s vigorous language is its own reward.”
—The Boston Globe
“[Cooke’s] trademark incisiveness is right there on the page, undeniable. . . . An author who challenges readers and rewards us in surprising and lovely ways.”
—The Portland Press Herald
“Erotic, whimsical, profound. . . . Cooke writes with passion, empathy, and considerable humor as her characters face life-changing issues of divorce, illness, self-destruction, and impending death.”
—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“Sex and death go hand-in-hand in Cooke’s new book. . . . Cooke’s wit and heart enliven such somber material. Her clear, careful prose communicates understanding without resorting to cynicism or sentimentality.”
—The Miami Herald
“Carolyn Cooke’s writing is addictive. Her prose is so compulsive and flavorful, you can almost feel it in your bloodstream. . . . Cooke’s stories do not just confront realities: they grab them, pinch them, knead them, and then hand them over to the reader—who devours each story and is left with cravings for more.”
“Cooke’s new collection is one of the very best of 2013. . . . Cooke’s stories twist and turn, playing games with language. . . . They leave you with something: shards of phrases; a lifetime of attitudes conveyed in a word or an aside; or odd, perfect details that stick in your mind.”
—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“An edgy collection of powerful, engaging, offbeat stories. . . . The product of a mature and considerable talent.”
“Cooke takes readers to various cultures and times to examine the anxiety, hopes, struggles, and, above all, the ever-present human quest for love and acceptance. . . . A definite page-turner, leaving the discerning reader with memorable character upon which to reflect. . . . Cooke keeps readers aware of the travails and triumphs of their humanity.”