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Cover image for A good day for seppuku : short stories
A good day for seppuku : short stories
Uniform Title:
Short stories. Selections
San Francisco : City Lights Books, [2018]
Physical Description:
246 pages ; 21 cm
O'Hare -- What the lilies know -- Skinny broads with wigs -- Feeding in a famine -- Cocktail hour -- Women of the ports -- The professor's wifte -- A good day for seppuku.
"Braverman challenges mythological nuclear family roles in her memorable collection of new stories"-- Provided by publisher.

"Haunting new stories about girls on the brink of adulthood, women on the verge of breakdowns, and families undone by past deceptions"-- Provided by publisher.


Call Number
Braverman, K.

On Order



Haunting new stories about girls on the brink of adulthood, women on the verge of breakdowns, and families undone by past deceptions.

"Kate Braverman is a writer of astonishing versatility and lyricism. Her stories are brilliantly rendered, painfully intimate portraits of individuals who come alive on the page as if illuminated by strobe lighting. With remarkable precision she tracks the restless motions of a mind searching for its reflection in the world--a continuous interrogation of the self that sweeps us along with it, as in a mysterious adventure."--Joyce Carol Oates

"If fame did not find Braverman when the moment was right, perhaps it will make amends now that the moment is wrong. . . . Braverman excels at flooding readers in images that throb with menace or pleasure, as if descriptive language were a vein into which our most primal fears and desires could be injected."--Katy Waldman,The New Yorker

"The book feels timeless, thinkTransparent, sans the trans . . . Kate Braverman, an underground literary icon through decades of razor-sharp writing, returns with a gorgeously observed collection of stories about contemporary Jewish identity. It's profound, realistic, and funny in equal measure."--David Canfield,Entertainment Weekly

"Braverman daringly, ravishingly, and resoundingly dramatizes the profound consequences of delusions, lies, ignorance, anger, cruelty, poverty, disappointment, conformity, inebriation, and violence with high imagination, sensual precision, cutting humor, and bracing insight."--Donna Seaman,Booklist *Starred review

"Braverman writes forthright but beautiful sentences. Her details are so vivid that they feel like memories . . . "--Publishers Weekly, *Starred/Boxed review

"Kate Braverman is an original. Reading her is like hitching a ride on a runaway train, always dangerous, always thrilling, always a knockout.Seppuku is all that and more."--Frederick Barthelme, author ofThere Must Be Some Mistake

"Braverman is the godmother of literary bad girls and a connoisseur of the shattered beauty glittering in the wreckage of her characters' lives. A Good Day for Seppukucelebrates the Braverman vision, and frames her legacy."--Janet Fitch, author ofThe Revolution of Marina M.

A thirteen-year-old girl must choose between her mother in Beverly Hills or her pot-growing father in the Allegheny Mountains. Dr. Bernie Roth and his wife Chloe reside in a grand hacienda in La Jolla. Their children are in college, and their disappointments are profound. But Bernie has his doctor's bag of elixirs for the regrets of late middle age. Mrs. Barbara Stein, a high school teacher, looks like she'd sacrifice her life for Emily Dickinson's honor. That's camouflage. Mrs. Stein actually spends summers in the Sisyphean search for her prostitute daughter in Los Angeles.

These are some of the tales told in Kate Braverman's audacious new story collection. These furious and often hilarious tableaus of American family life remind us of why she has been seducing readers ever since her debut novelLithium for Medeashook the literary world nearly forty years ago.

Author Notes

Kate Braverman is the author of a memoir, four novels, two story collections, and four books of poetry. She is the recipient of the Economist Prize, an Isherwood Fellowship, and the O'Henry Award. Her classic short fiction has appeared in Ben Marcus' New American Short Stories, , Tobias Wolfe's The Vintage Book of Contemporary American Short Stories , McSweeney's , Best American, Carver, The Paris Review , and numerous esteemed anthologies and award-winning collections. She lives in Santa Fe.

Reviews 4

Publisher's Weekly Review

This extraordinary collection from Braverman (Lithium for Medea) features unforgettable stories of women on the edge, children overlooked, and men at the ends of their ropes. In "What the Lilies Know," a sober academic is denied tenure and travels to reunite with her estranged hippie mother, throwing the life she has built to the wind: "She left AA at the border. And half her IQ." In "Cocktail Hour," the wife of a wealthy doctor explains matter-of-factly that she is leaving him, effectively retiring from their marriage after raising their children-but he might have one last, gut-wrenching way to make her stay. In "Skinny Broads with Wigs," a seemingly "neutered and eccentric" high-school English teacher spends her school vacations searching Los Angeles for her prostitute daughter. And, in the brilliant "Women of the Ports," two childhood friends indulge in their yearly reunion, getting drunk and bluntly, unsentimentally recalling the various cruelties of their pasts. Braverman writes forthright but beautiful sentences. Her details are so vivid that they feel like memories: water is "last ditch leukemia IV-drip blue"; a lonely young boy is "sympathetic to the moon, barren, pock-marked and futile." Without glorifying or reveling in suffering, Braverman reveals the inner lives of her disparate cast of characters. (Feb.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Kirkus Review

Unhappy relationships in various stages of disintegration.It's not much of an exaggeration to say the characters in Braverman's (Frantic Transmissions to and from Los Angeles, 2006, etc.) stories all hate each others' guts. In the first story, the 13-old-daughter of former band mates has to choose whether to live with her drug dealer father in Pennsylvania or her snobby, faux recovering alcoholic mother in California; unsurprisingly, the only place she really feels at home is O'Hare airport. In the second, a woman who's denied tenure calls her mother, but not for consolation. Hell, no. Her mother is "an integral component in her arsenal of weapons of personal destructionher plutonium centerpiece." Another protagonist thinks of a visit to her childhood home as the mission of "a journalist sent to cover a catastrophe." "Are you saying you missed me?" she asks her mother. "I don't even remember you," says her mother. "What's there to miss?" In "Cocktail Hour," an exec named Bernie comes home from work to find his wife packing to leave him. Their whole 24-year marriage was nothing more to her than an elaborate performance art piece, she explains. The reader soon concludes he shouldn't take it personally: she hates their children and everyone else they know, too. Perhaps the grand prize for extreme enmity goes to the lifelong "almost cousins" of "Women of the Ports." When the story begins, the two women are meeting up at Fisherman's Wharf. They only get together once in a while because "conventional friendship, with its narrative of consensual commitments have proved too intimate and demanding." For the next 22 pages, things go downhill rather dramatically. The story ends like this: "She hopes Clarissa loses her license and becomes destitute. She should have her hands amputated like any other thief. Then she should get a slow growing undetectable ovarian cancer that metastasizes in her stomach and brain. The Russian Mafia should gang rape her while the Iranians eat caviar and watch. In any event, she never wants to see Clarissa again." Yeah, she probably shouldn't.It's always a good day for seppuku in this subzero emotional climate. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Booklist Review

*Starred Review* Braverman (Frantic Transmissions to and from Los Angeles, 2006), an uncompromising writer of mythic depth and poetic firepower, presents gorgeously lacerating short stories about how soul-battering misogyny fosters self-destruction and undermines relationships, especially those between mothers and daughters, and, contrarily, about how a woman's refusal to succumb to sexism can engender fierce rebellion and outlaw self-sufficiency. As she pits characters against one another and themselves, her blistering evocations of besieged mental states are matched by hallucinogenic, nearly synesthetic depictions of place, from the madly decadent mansions of Beverly Hills to the searing glory of the Southwest to the bone-freezing Allegheny Mountains. In the breathtakingly furious and hilarious O'Hare, a 13-year-old girl of divorced, remarried parents, all former band members, is forced to choose between her mother's criminally glitzy L.A. existence and her pot-growing father's earthy Pennsylvania outpost. The title story, set in the same Allegheny town, portrays a nature-loving boy abandoned by his raging parents. When a professor denied tenure visits her ever-seeking mother in the desert, they end up at a casino, which looms as a clamoring, apocalyptic mass reduction of life. Braverman daringly, ravishingly, and resoundingly dramatizes the profound consequences of delusions, lies, ignorance, anger, cruelty, poverty, disappointment, conformity, inebriation, and violence with high imagination, sensual precision, cutting humor, and bracing insight.--Seaman, Donna Copyright 2018 Booklist

Library Journal Review

In these rich and energetic stories, the ever-illuminating Braverman (The Incantation of Frida K.) proves herself again by exploring the lives of characters young and old, female and male, as they struggle through upheaval emblematic of today's rending social fabric. A 13-year-old who regularly wings her way between her high-inspiring, materialistic California mother and her laconic, back-to-the-land father in the Alleghenies realizes that she must choose between the two once she starts high school. A woman denied tenure seeks comfort from her flamboyant mother, who leads an "unscripted life" south of the border yet needs as much rescuing as her daughter. A conscientious high school teacher hides a secret: she's searching for her daughter, a heroin addict and prostitute. And a doctor about to retire, stunned to learn that he won't be getting a plaque in the lobby of the hospital he founded, returns home to find his wife packing to leave. VERDICT Sparkling work for smart readers. © Copyright 2018. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

O'Harep. 7
What the Lilies Knowp. 43
Skinny Broads with Wigsp. 71
Feeding in a Faminep. 93
Cocktail Hourp. 111
Women of the Portsp. 133
The Professor's Wifep. 155
A Good Day for Seppukup. 201