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The Art of Wearing a Trench Coat: Stories (Paperback)
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A baker’s dozen of intertwined stories that brilliantly evoke the ups and downs of relationships between strangers, spouses, parents, and children.
Drawing on the author’s own experiences, this slim, intimate collection of thirteen stories explores myriad forms of love (and disappointment and nostalgia and panic) through a narrator who bemoans his inability to wear a trench coat well, like Humphrey Bogart and the other elegant men his mother taught him to admire. In these encounters and these endings, in these details and these feelings, a compassionate portrait of a life emerges.
Terse, droll, sometimes absurd but always lucid, Pàmies casts his gaze on the urge to write as seen through his mother’s final days; on his teenage fantasy that his father was actually Jorge Semprún; and on situations such as adopting a dog to staunch a failing marriage, or a father asked to play the part of a corpse in his son’s short film. In this phantasmagoria of failure and loss, Pàmies confronts us—pulling us in with his use of the second person—with the omnipresence of well-intentioned lies without which it might be impossible to ever make anyone else happy.
About the Author
Sergi Pàmies was born in Paris to a family of Spanish political refugees. He moved to Barcelona in 1971 and went on to work as a translator, journalist, television and radio presenter, and writer, for which he has received several awards. He is the father of two children.
Adrian Nathan West is a writer and literary critic based in Spain. He has translated more than twenty books, among them Rainald Goetz’s Insane and Sibylle Lacan’s A Father: Puzzle.
“The Art of Wearing a Trench Coat by Sergi Pàmies is a tremendous work of literature. I was charmed by these honest, hilarious, and masterfully crafted short stories. I stayed up late into the night, devouring this slim volume in one sitting. These thirteen stories are searing with insight, offering reflections on love and regret, and an understanding of the human heart that builds throughout the book’s pages. My only disappointment is that I hadn’t read anything by Pàmies before. I am grateful for this work and for its exquisite translation by Adrian Nathan West.” —Kali Fajardo-Anstine, author of Sabrina & Corina, National Book Award Finalist
“In The Art of Wearing a Trench Coat Pàmies elegantly exposes the connection between the personal and the political with an extraordinary mixture of pathos, regret, affection, and bitterness. Loves, ideals, eras are all compromised, adored, lost and then found and lost again in short stories that resonate far beyond the page—one gets the feeling that an entire lifetime of sensitivity and reflection has been compressed into prose as polished and prismatic as a diamond. This is a work deeply engaged with life through both the heart and the mind; a total delight in every dimension.” —Maryse Meijer, author of The Seventh Mansion and Rag: Stories
“Sergi Pàmies’ exquisite story collection The Art of Wearing a Trench Coat is an experience of the heart and mind. Beautifully translated by Adrian Nathan West, the thirteen stories here render a life in brief glimpses and longer meditations, in ways that feel both comfortingly familiar and startlingly new: Random strangers meet, but what does it mean for them to part? Loved ones die, but what does it mean to truly let go? In a world where we’ve become more and more isolated, and at a time when human connection feels increasingly less human, Pàmies’ stories arrive at the perfect moment. This is a book I didn’t know I needed, and I’m so grateful that it’s here.” —Lysley Tenorio, author of The Son of Good Fortune and Monstress
“Pàmies is honest and profound, but he never abandons lightness and irony, to which he adds a great ability for observation and a particular talent for tenderness.” —Letras Libres
“Pàmies’s work represents the summit of the contemporary short story.” —L’Avenç
“Pàmies has shown extraordinary skill...One of our best living short story writers has started a whole new stage.” —La Llança