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The characters in Inappropriate Behavior teeter on the brink of sanity, while those around them reach out in support, watch helplessly, or duck for cover. In their loneliness, Murray Farish's characters cast about for a way to connect, to be understood, though more often than not, things go horribly wrong. Some of the characters come from the darkest recesses of American history. In 'Lubbock Is Not a Place of the Spirit,' a Texas Tech student recognizable as John Hinckley, Jr. writes hundreds of songs for Jodie Foster as he grows increasingly estranged from reality. Other characters are recognizable only in the sense that their situations strike an emotional chord. The young couple in 'The Thing About Norfolk,' socially isolated after a cross-country move, are dismayed to find themselves unable to resist sexually deviant urges. And in the deeply touching title story, a couple stretched to their limit after the husband's layoff struggle to care for their emotionally unbalanced young son. Set in cities across America and spanning the last half-century, this collection draws a bead on our national identity, distilling our obsessions, our hauntings, our universal predicament.
Advance Praise for Inappropriate Behavior
"The characters in Farish’s debut collection react to the erosion of normalcy in myriad ways, from stress to psychosis.... masterful."
The best first collection I have read in years. Darkly funny, heart-wrenching, and altogether brilliant, its pleasures are both old-fashionedriveting plots, beautiful languageand entirely contemporary: nobody writes better than Farish about the particular anxieties of our time in history. This is a terrific, strange book.”
"The characters in these gripping and accomplished stories are rough customersbad company, some of themhellbent toward outer darkness. With fierce intensity and no slight streak of prophecy, Farish charts the paths they follow through a world gone haywire. These stories will be compared with works by Barry Hannah and Denis Johnson."
Janet Peery, author of The River Beyond the World and What the Thunder Said
"Inappropriate Behavior is a collection of lovely surprises: the tartly fresh, felicitous phrase, followed by the astonishing plot turn, and then by the lightning-streaked illumination of character. I think you will like this book."
Ken Kalfus, author of Equilateral
"A few facts about Murray Farish. First, he is wise, wickedly so, about the betimes corrupted creatures we are and about the hopes that bedevil us, not to mention the whichaway we go through time and the lies we need to tell ourselves when the bogey-men leap out from the shadows. Second, he's a deft and careful a craftsman between margins as you'll find at the keyboard nowadays, his stories models of clarity and design and artistic felicity. Finally, he, as the writer, does all the work so that we, his readers, experience all the pleasure, no matter how crosswise or inappropriate the behaviors found between 'once upon a time' and 'the end.' Do yourself a favor: put some Farish fiction between your ears."
Lee K. Abbott, author of All Things, All at Once
"Farish writes with a fiercely humanistic and moral rigor: we suffer together; we live together. We want, each of us, to be happy. There are scenes here that will still your heart with the quiet beauty of their soul-wisdom. The heartbreaking and beautifully constructed title story is the most authentic treatment of the Great Recession that I have read yet. Meticulous, richly detailed, and openly generous to the lives of the emotionally and socially displacedthese stories are the gift of a serious and electric talent."
T. M. McNally, author of Low Flying Aircraft, winner of the Flannery O'Connor Award for Short Fiction, and The Goat Bridge
"Murray Farish is up to something risky in Inappropriate Behavior. Set in the marginal cities and simmering towns of the south and midwest, the fictions anchor themselves in startling images: a man crawling across a corporate parking lot, a married couple raptly watching a teenage girl’s window, a diner waitress walking away from a car wreck. In a voice that is by turns funny, incisive, and lyrical, Farish plumbs the peculiar darknesses of American history and private lifethese stories are nocturnal expeditions that leave an afterglow."
Eric Lundgren, author of The Facades
"Interesting and accomplished, this collection of stories explores the intersection of abhorrent behavior and the facade of ordinary life. Murray has mastered the short story and this collection is solidnot a weak one in the bunch."
Sarah Bagby, Watermark Books & Cafe, Wichita, Kansas
"As the title suggests, this collection of short stories deals with what our society considers "inappropriate behavior," whether it be obsessive, cruel or violent. The stories, with characters ranging from irate co-workers to crazy college students with guns, are all the more disturbing and powerful as they describe situations that are far from the ordinary. Farish delivers a superb observation of contemporary America where the border between sanity and insanity is tenuous and blurry at best."
Pierre Camy, Schuler Books, Grand Rapids, MI
"What is your "inappropriate behavior" of choice? Debut author Murray Farish, in this hip collection of stories, exposes an America living on the edgethe edge of the law, the edge of grief, the edge of society. Portraying characters who appear as real as a next-door neighbor, each unique story will make you wonder just what is happening behind closed doors. Highly original and focused on the unusual, Inappropriate Behavior is an auspicious beginning for the talented new voice of Murray Farish."
Nancy Simpson-Brice, Book Vault, Oskaloosa, Iowa
"Inappropriate behavior, a modern euphemism for the cause of a social embarrassment or an unpleasant situation, takes on a much greater magnitude and diversity in this collection of short stories. Farish’s characters run the spectrum from deeply disturbed and hallucinating, contemplating murder (or worse), to seemingly normal, some interacting with historical figures associated with the Kennedy assassination and some that you might meet at school, the gym or a local restaurant. But they all seem to crave a human connection as they inexplicably run off the rails and then wait for the police to arrive. My favorite was the young couple, aroused by the nocturnal displays in an underage neighbor girl’s window (visible from their kitchen) whose subsequent cavortings are observed by the finger-wagging, creepy, twelve-year-old neighbor on the ground floor. Plenty to make you squirm and wonder just how normal your own life is."
Darwin Ellis, Books on the Common, Ridgefield, Connecticut
Number Of Pages: 224
Published: 17th March 2014
Publisher: Milkweed Editions
Edition Number: 1