Favorites: Daily Life of the Pioneers, the Linguist -- but actually - every one of them." Naomi Shihab Nye
"I didn't just read this book. It was one of the rare ones that could be savored. The flow of prose unwinding transparent and tensile as spider silk, lightness catching the light."
"Megan Staffel does rural and urban, adolescence and adulthood, tough and tender, story and novella, with equal felicity and grace. The range of this collection--emotional and formal--is as astonishing as her rich and tender evocation of what it is to be alive. This is a book with a vigilant spirit, built to linger and bloom." Michael Parker
Lessons in Another Language
A Novella and Stories
What They Said About LESSONS IN ANOTHER LANGUAGE
"Each of these vividly imagined, richly peopled stories invites the reader into a complete world, and each demonstrates how well Megan Staffel understands the degree to which our lives are defined by family, place, and money. In prose both lyrical and colloquial she depicts the lives of characters hovering on the edge of mystery. Lessons in Another Language is a lovely and illuminating collection." Margot Livesey
"I found myself in Detroit, just a 40-minute flight away from Milwaukee, on an airplane that would not take off. We weren't allowed off the plane for several hours, and while on the plane, we weren't allowed any
electronic distractions. But thank God, because that meant I not only got to read your beautiful new book, LESSONS IN ANOTHER LANGUAGE,but I got to read it the way everyone should, in one great, giddy gulp. I was just amazed - every story was so sure-footed." Liam Callanan
The Notebook of Lost Things
Helene and her mother came to the small town of Paris, New York after World War II as refugees from the bombing of Dresden. They were joining a distant relative only to find that he'd vanished. William Swick, a shy and lonely bookseller, also the town's only dwarf, took them in for a night that turned into a lifetime. Harry, sour and sexually voracious, the owner of the village tavern, looks out of his window and sees something that challenges his cynicism. Stella, the poor half-Mexican teenager who courts danger in original ways, must act as mother to her own mother. THE NOTEBOOK OF LOST THINGS is a novel about the way mystery brings together five unrelated people in a small town, the way the surfaces of life mislead, the way one secret leads to another, and changes things forever.
"THE NOTEBOOK OF LOST THINGS is told in prose that is Zen-like in its clarity, solidity, and attention to the ordinary. From this illuminated everydayness, the secret, sensuous, and always creditable lives of Staffel's characters naturally emerge, and the unfolding of their stories is fixed, so as not to be lost, by this mature and beautiful book." Stuart Dybek, The Coast of Chicago
What They Said about THE NOTEBOOK OF LOST THINGS
Booklist (starred review): "This fresh and lucid tale about the denizens of a small New York town is sure to be Staffel's breakout book. [Her] unusual characters are magnetic and her images surprising and resonant. And her prose is so silken and seamless, her novel flows like one long exhalation as she astutely traces life's cycle of coalescence and disintegration."
The Atlantic Monthly: "Ms. Staffel's intricately constructed novel is set in a decaying town in upstate New York. The place, with its failed businesses and abandoned farms, is solidly evoked. The principal characters, in contrast, are fluid rather than solid, transitory rather than rooted. They are all misfits..., people a bit out of kilter, and how they collide and support one another is the substance of the tale. It is a striking piece of work."
The San Diego Union-Tribune: "Megan Staffel's THE NOTEBOOKS OF LOST THINGS tells how the past and present, desire and futility, are intertwined. It is also the story of survival through imagination...Staffel's spare language and careful, even delicate rendering of Paris and the lives its inhabitants contribute to the prevailing sense of loss and despair, making the rare moments of genuine hope poignant and powerful."
Bloomsbury Review: "Staffel fills the novel with unforgettable luminous moments...."
Time Out New York: "THE NOTEBOOK OF LOST THINGS" is ...resonant with clear-sighted humanity and artful, delicate prose. Staffel arrests the flicker of moments, those lost things that make up the experience of our days."
She Wanted Something Else
A first novel of uncommon delicacy and sureness, SHE WANTED SOMETHING ELSE is the story of three connected lives and the delicate shifts, hesitations, and redirections that alter, threaten, and renew the characters' relationships over time. Foremost is Rose Ann, a dedicated painter who never does quite what is expected of her--or even what she expects of herself. Imperious and stubborn, she is caught between the demands of her family and those of her life as an artist. Told from the points of view of each of the three characters--Rose Ann, her husband, Teddy, and her daughter, Alma--SHE WANTED SOMETHING ELSE traces Rose Ann's struggle to be artist and wife and mother. It is the story of three imperfectly suited people and the emotional force that binds their lives together.
"From her opening scene, in which a child unhooks a guardrail of a roller coaster and stands up to wave to her mother far below, Megan Staffel shows a fine instinct for rendering scenes that reveal the secret essence of her characters. The daring child becomes a daring woman who risks her marriage to study painting in Rome. Ms. Staffel's portrait of the artist explores the tension between ambition and love with a true novelist's well-balanced compassion." Thomas Gavin, Breathing Water
What They Said About SHE WANTED SOMETHING ELSE
Booklist: " An accomplished and emotionally complex work."
San Francisco Chronicle: "The writing is precise and delicate, the imagery robust and full of flavor. Characters, whether large or cameo, are vivid, moving through emotional terrain both ambiguous and morally complex."
The Seattle Times: "[Staffel] shows us that in relationships, sometimes the shadow is as important as the object that casts it."
What They Said about A LENGTH OF WIRE AND OTHER STORIES
Rochester Times Union: "a powerful and engaging collection. Megan Staffel communicates subtle insights with a sure touch, and in a spare style which makes her work eminently readable. Her stories resonate in the mind, take hold, and grow there. She is a new writer to rejoice in."
Philadelphia Inquirer: "...her stories have a quiet grace, a compact, nicely understated dignity. She focuses on the relationships between parents and children, the personal past and present, with characters who are always aware of (and sometimes defiant of) the boundaries that define them."