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Back at dinner, somebody said that the goose thinks it’s a dog. No, it doesn’t. It doesn’t think it’s a dog. The goose doesn’t think. The goose just is. And what the goose is is goose. But goose is not goose, Robert thinks. Even the goose isn’t goose.
In Good Trouble, the first story collection from Joseph O’Neill, author of Netherland, characters are forced to discover exactly who they are, and who they can never quite be.
There’s Rob, who swears he is a dependable member of society, but can’t scrape together a character reference to prove that’s the case. And Jayne, who has no choice but to investigate a strange noise downstairs while her husband lies glued to the bed with fear. A mother tries to find where she fits into her son’s new life of semi-soft rind-washed cheeses, and a poet tries to fathom what makes a poet. Do you even have to write poetry?
Packed with O’Neill’s trademark acerbic humour, Good Trouble explores the maddening and secretly political space between thoughts and deeds, between men and women, between goose and not-goose.
Praise for Good Trouble:
‘O’Neill’s intelligence and invention puts him ahead of the pack’ Sunday Times
Praise for Netherland:
'A great American novel, but one with an ordinary European Everyman at its centre.' Sean O'Hagan, Observer
'An exquisitely written novel, a large fictional achievement, and one of the most remarkable post-colonial books I have ever read' James Wood, New Yorker
‘An extraordinary novel … O'Neill is a writer of dizzying elegance' Daniel Swift, Financial Times
'Touched by greatness' Ed Caesar, Sunday Times
'It is hard to know which is stranger – that a great American novel has been written about cricket or that a great cricket novel should be set in America. But both are true. Netherland, a state-of-the-nation exploration of contemporary America, is ambitious, intelligent and deeply perceptive…whether a huge six or a home run – whatever the metaphor of your choice Netherland – comes right out of the middle of the bat' Ed Smith, The Times
Praise for The Dog:
‘On page after page, O'Neill can still dazzle as a compellingly intelligent writer. Everywhere you look, there's a shimmering portrait of modernity waiting to be glimpsed … [An] ambitious, lucidly thought-through novel’ Guardian
‘Our only truly international writer … Breathtaking … O'Neill's writing reflects the individual's concerns in our desolate modern world in prose that is illuminating, amusing, sometimes beautiful, but never showy’ Irish Independent
‘The best comic novel I’ve read for ages’ The Scotsman
‘Enraged, brutal, witty and at times brilliant’ Sunday Times
About the author
Joseph O’Neill lives in New York and teaches at Bard College. He is the author of four novels, Netherland (longlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2008),The Dog, This Is the Life and The Breezes, as well as a memoir, Blood-Dark Track. His short stories have been published in the New Yorker and Harper’s, and his literary criticism has appeared in the Guardian, the New York Times, the Irish Times, the Atlantic, Granta and other publications. He won the 2009 PEN/Faulkner Prize for Fiction and 2009 Kerry Fiction Award for Netherland.
In his first story collection, O'Neill (The Dog; Netherland) tackles the politics of friendship, facial hair, petitions, and spousal duties, with solid results. In "The Sinking of the Houston," a father uses GPS tracking to hunt down his son's stolen cell phone, only to be distracted in his pursuits by an elderly neighbor's stories of the Bay of Pigs invasion. "Goose" sees a man hopscotch across Italy before attending his college friend's second wedding. In "The Death of Billy Joel," a quartet of golfing buddies head to Florida for a weekend of celebration, only to ultimately question the value of travel and escapism. O'Neill's narratives frequently wander between ideas and end without definitive resolution. When this works, as in "The Mustache in 2010" a tale of shaving, social history, and mindfulness the reader is delightfully tossed about. Yet other stories, such as "The Trusted Traveler," concerning a former student who visits his professor's home once a year, never quite achieve deep resonance and sputter in their final acts. O'Neill's writing is always inventive, and despite occasional missteps, the collection will please fans of quirky short fiction. \n