Two novellas and four short stories selected by Gary Gildner as winner of theG.S Sharat Chandra Prize 2008. In citing the collection, Gildner wrote:
“There is no showing off, no fancy footwork, no faking it. A voice you trust is completely in charge in the best possible way: ‘Listen,’ it says, ‘I’d like to tell you something important if you’re not too busy.’”
Perry Glasser nails the curious kind we are: a tribe drunk with hope. This volume of stories reveals, page after terrific page, how we crawl from sleep into the crosswise light of a new day’s dread. —Lee K. Abbott, author of All Things, All at Once.
Perry Glasser's superb storytelling conjoins grace and peril, making Dangerous Places irresistible to any reader who craves an authentic American voice and a sensibility that understands danger as a life-summoning force. —Bob Shacochis, National Book Award-winning author of Easy In The Islands and Swimming in the Volcano
Perry Glasser's Dangerous Places is a fascinating collection of fabulous, funny, wildly different stories, each cunningly invented and firmly controlled by a fiction writer who has the wisdom, skill, and ease of a master. —Ron Hansen, author of Mariette in Ecstasy, Atticus, and Exiles
Perry Glasser returns! He understands the insistent magic of people’s ordinary dreams; and he writes with an insider’s wisdom about the true hardiness of hope. This is good fiction – and worth the wait. –Ron Carlson, author of Five Skies and At the Jim Bridger
Perry Glasser’s characters claim our emotional attachment; they are ordinary people walking a razor’s edge of balance, one step from sudden disaster. These stories are Glasser’s best work yet. —Philip Gerard, author of Secret Soldiers and Cape Fear Rising
among “Best Books 2009” --USA Book News
The world-weary characters in Glasser’s third short story collection stumble on danger in the least likely places: grocery stores, shopping malls, backyards, and bedrooms. And the danger they encounter isn’t the cliff-hanging peril the title might suggest. In the novella-length opener, “An Age of Marvels and Wonders,” a former business professor, aging and going blind, teaches a single mother how to see her own potential as a businessperson while hiding her from her recently paroled ex. In “The Veldt,” a man afraid to tell his wife that he has lost his job two weeks ago avenges a teen who steals his parking spot while shopping. And in “Danger,” a coda of sorts, the narrator offers a series of brief tales of everyday people teetering between safety and harm, including a couple who picks up random hitchhikers and an Army vet caught cheating with his daughter’s friend. Glasser’s funny and authoritative voice is that of a sage storyteller, one in whose world good and evil often walk the same tightrope. These are finely crafted and original stories. — Jonathan Fullmer in BookList
I picked up his book and was completed and thoroughly knocked out. His stories, about people on the edge of hope, are raw, gritty, extraordinary and unlike anything I have ever read before. It's literally the best short story collection I've read. --Caroline Leavitt, author of Pictures of You.
If there’s one message here, it’s that danger, in all its manifestations, introduces excitement into our suburban existence. We are thrilled by the spectacle of it, and then shocked by its realness. And that’s Glasser’s goal, to get us closer to the realness. He asks us to consider the lives his characters lead. He lets us listen to the sound of their blood flowing, and then asks if it really sounds different from our own. --Lee Clay Johnson in The Virginia Quarterly Review
His stories have familiar surroundings, familiar people, and are written in prose that is a flowing, melodious tune – one you could hum. ..... Glasser has put together an excellent volume. This was a collection I had a hard time setting down, and I expect I will return to it in the future. --Alex Myer in New Pages.
The man pinned between my car and my neighbor’s house screamed at first, shouted, threatened, cursed, bargained, pleaded, then finally wept, but now that he is quiet, I risk a close look. My car door strikes the gray stucco wall. The space in which I can maneuver is only a few inches because the driveway is so narrow. Taking my time, I emerge by first extending my neck and head. After I push my left arm and left leg out, I raise my arm to the sky, twist, turn, and my right arm and leg follow. The driveway is that tight. In the dark, cold rain, it’s difficult to see much of anything. Twenty-five yards up the street, just beyond the oak that dominates the block, a streetlight sputters, but we are in dark shadow. Wind rustles the wet leaves; shadows shift. This neighborhood is known for its tree-lined streets, shallow lawns, driveways, and pitched roofs with old-fashioned vinyl and cedar shingles. Close to campus on this side of the river, housing is modestly dense. Despite the rain, the air carries the sweet smell of fireplace smoke. People like living here. ... The young man is tall and thin, near haggard, but that’s a fashion statement, not the sign of hardship. We’ve met. We’re old friends, he and I. Men of the world, he thinks, the kind that share understandings of work and women. I have a well-honed imagination, but I can’t explain how the short woman ever became involved with this man. ... All told, I’ve run the young man down three times. How can the short woman forgive me? --from “An Age of Marvels and Wonders”
“They strap me in. It’s a grooved oak wooden disk, splintered where knives have bitten the wood. They fasten a leather strap across my waist, another at each ankle, and one more for each wrist. My arms are stretched over my head. The straps are stained dark, and I think how Loretta has sweated the leather black doing fourteen shows a week. I look like a rhinestone saint prepped for martyrdom. Joey the stagehand whispers to me ‘Keep your eyes closed, kid, you’ll be fine.’ “But I can’t do that. I try, but my eyes pop right open. I’m not nervous. I’m excited. This is great! I think. This is the greatest thing that ever happened to me. They tilt the thing vertical and ignite sparklers all along the rim. ... “Mario begins to throw. I smell horse piss and the iron-stink of the sparklers, and I hear the creaks of the backstop’s axle. Knives bracket my hips. The backstop spins faster and faster. I’m riding The Wheel of Death. Blood fills my head. I can’t close my eyes. Knives surround my left ankle, but by now I am a marble in a kaleidoscope, and I don’t hear the audience roar or count because it seems to me the colors make the noise. I’m at the bottom of a roaring whirlpool that is sucking in the rainbow with just the colors whirling faster and faster, faster than the world goes round.” She paused and slowly lit a final cigarette. Her slim hand rested at the base of her delicate throat. “Jody, one night, I climbed onto the Wheel of Death and a mad Armenian threw knives at me. Why the hell would I ever need a husband?” Jody laughed. “But I tell you, kiddo, it taught me something.” “What’s that?” “Every woman is a target. Get used to it. You may as well keep your eyes open. Take it all in. No one gets more than one chance on the wheel.” --from “Jody’s Run”
Sure of our attention, the plane climbs, slows, and then the sharpest-eyed among us see the parachutist leap from a door behind the wing. The girl beside me points. The parachutist plummets like a stone for a few seconds, and then his parachute blossoms. Everyone on the field applauds, but we rise to our feet to cheer when he ignites red, white and blue smoke bombs. The three colors spiral about him as he twists in the wind. Great plumes of colored smoke stain the sky. People whistle, stomp their feet and shout. It is a magnificent moment. Only the next day do we learn from newspaper accounts that the rogue parachutist had nothing to do with the show. In fact, his nylon jumpsuit caught fire from the three smoke bombs strapped to his waist. He’d been aflame, burning right before our eyes, dead before he touched the ground. Unable to know his pain, as he twisted and spun above us we cheered every foot of his agonized descent. We hollered and shouted, oohed and aahed through the nightmare of his slow, excruciating final fall to the earth, in our ignorance thrilled by his exquisite beauty. --from “Danger”