Winner of the Juniper Prize for Fiction
Inhabiting a world that offers no guarantee of any veracity, the characters in these peculiar stories are driven to and goaded by compulsive and perhaps pointless reflection. They are haunted by unrelenting consciousness and knowledge of failure, yet are, at best, ambivalent toward any conventional equation of success. Theirs is a world of broken relationships, futile memory, constant appetite, and the certain knowledge that they are winding down in a culture in which it is impossible to do—or know—the right thing. Frustrated and obsessed, they cannot articulate their lives and are entranced by the strangeness of the everyday.
Written with keen intelligence and biting humor, Carbine is a book about the ridiculousness of contemporary life—a book about what cannot be said.
"The men in Greg Mulcahy’s trigger-ready stories are bewildered and enraged by a world that looks like some awful funhouse of consumption. This devastating, sometimes wickedly funny book is chillingly on-target about the distortion of self in a culture that insists on compliance."—Dawn Raffel, author of Carrying the Body and In the Year of Long Division
"Blurbs are frauds. Speech synopsizing speech, can it but be false? The only thing is the thing itself—in this case, Greg Mulcahy. All of him, packing, strapped, armed—a menace to your community."—Gordon Lish, author of Krupp’s Lulu and Arcade, or How to Write a Novel
"In these 41 brief, surprising stories, Mulcahy (Constellation) mines everyman's deep sense of failure and spiritual alienation. Hat sets out a typical conflict: a middle-aged office worker, trapped in an interminable meeting with a bland facilitator, daydreams about starting over with his disgruntled spouse. In Graceland, a man reflects on a corny tourist photo of him and his wife snapped at the Elvis mecca and imagines it has captured the two stuck in a moment both past and future—exposing a culture eternally recycled and possessing varieties of chaos to come. In the longest story, Architecture of the French Novel, a doleful character ruminates on memories of a now dead acquaintance, Jules, and his wife, Penelope, striking a dark and obsessive chord. Above all, Mulcahy's characters desire to assume some relevance, like Bill in Account, who wants to cease being invisible (Hey, you're that guy, a stranger remarks to him, shocking him), move beyond failures of the past, and find purpose. Mulcahy packs a surprising amount of power into each of these understated and beautifully wrought pieces."—Publishers Weekly
"Reading the stories in Greg Mulcahy's collection of short fiction, Carbine, is like driving by a smoldering auto-truck accident on I-10 just east of New Orleans. It is filled with images that are compelling, tragic, and lasting. . . . Mulcahy is relentless in his pursuit of truth, waging war on anyone who dares pick up his book. In his war there are few rules. Paragraphs fade into sentence fragments. Narrative spare to begin with carries the story until it is broken, too weak to go on, and overcome by an assertive stream of consciousness. . . . All of the stories in Carbine are outstanding for what they do not tell us; Mulcahy's omissions extend to setting and character. . . . Mulcahy tells us about our world from an angle which is not always readily apparent. Like the poetry of Richard Brautigan, this is reading that can be exhausting, but never dull or disappointing."—Foreword
"In these 41 brief, surprising stories, Mulcahy mines everyman's deep sense of failure and spiritual alienation. . . . Mulcahy packs a surprising amount of power into each of these understated and beautifully wrought pieces."—Publishers Weekly