The Flounder

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by John Fulton

The riddles of desire, youth, old age, poverty, and wealth are laid bare in this radiant collection from a master of the form. From inner-city pawnshops to high-powered law firms, from the desert of California to the coast of France, The Flounder paints a vivid portrait of how complex and poignant everyday life can be. Told in vibrant, incantatory prose, these moving, lyrical, and surprising stories teeter between desperation and hope, with Fulton showing us what lasts in an impermanent world.

  • Chosen for Poets & Writers New and Noteworthy Books Section
  • Selected for SPD Recommends

Advanced Praise

In The Flounder, John Fulton writes about men caught in riptides, navigating the rough emotional waters of love, marriage and family. A boy faces his father’s terminal illness. A Mormon teenager traveling through post-Soviet Europe fails to lose his virginity. A young husband takes a road trip with his unfaithful wife. Fulton is a writer of great humanity, with an eye for the revelatory moment. These are masterful short stories – closely observed, moving, memorable and profound.
– Jennifer Haigh, author of Mercy Street

The Flounder…feels unified by topic and tone—although the tones are various and the diction supple—as well as in, from time to time, the names of characters. Marital fidelity and infidelity are at issue here, as is the relation between generations and the search for (one might as well call it) authenticity. And the real connective tissue is the talent of its author, whose eye for detail is both telescopic and microscopic. Whether set in rural North America or towns and villages in Europe, John Fulton’s fictions ring true.
– Nicholas Delbanco, author of, most recently, Why Writing Matters

Faced with apocalypses that are sometimes private and sometimes prophesized, the characters in John Fulton’s The Flounder wrestle with faith in many forms. These are stories that illuminate human realities of love and betrayal, life and death using a touch of the miraculous. The result is an elegant collection with a timeless sensibility, as well as the ecstatic capacity to make its readers see their lives anew.
– Allegra Hyde, author of The Last Catastrophe

The Flounder is a remarkable book, full of remarkable stories, stories that move quickly through time while simultaneously being firmly rooted in place, stories that manage to be intimate while also having sweep, and grandeur. In this, they remind me of work by Alice Munro and John Cheever, but really, they’re 100% John Fulton: smart, deeply felt, and ingeniously constructed stories of how we go to extraordinary lengths to keep on living our ordinary lives.
– Brock Clarke, author of Who Are You, Calvin Bledsoe?

In The Flounder, John Fulton is clearly at the top of his game. His prose has that rare thing — a sense of intimacy … In 10 beautiful stories he reveals a profound understanding of loneliness in all walks of life and among people of all ages.”
– The Arts Fuse
John Fulton’s new collection of short stories, The Flounder, explores the tug between who we are and who we tell ourselves we are … Fulton excels at capturing the big wounds and the minor gripes, the intimacies, the betrayals, the grave dissatisfactions, and the rare, quiet moments of solace, connection, and grace. There are ghosts in these stories, not footless haunters, but of memory, forces that hover in the offstages of our minds that we can’t see or name but live in us, raising the unanswerable questions that wake us in the night.”
– The Boston Globe

Additional information

Weight 8.6 oz

paperback, e-book


27 May 2023


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