Ether: Seven Stories and a Novella
A New York Times Book Review Editors' Choice
All the characters in Evgenia Citkowitz's first collection of short fiction are connected by the quest for identity—some are poised at crossroads, while others teeter on the edge of a moral precipice. In "Leavers' Events," a teenage girl awaits exam results and has a sexual encounter with a teacher that she hopes will define her. In "Sunday's Child," a middle-aged actress evicts a homeless woman from her garden, precipitating a crisis of conscience. And in the title novella, "Ether," a blocked writer plagiarizes his own life with devastating consequences.
Unexpected and startlingly original, Citkowitz depicts her characters with a mordant humor and tenderness that never diminishes their complexity.
Praise for Ether
“How coolly poised, Evgenia Citkowitz’s prose! And how elegantly and richly detailed her fictional worlds! ...Sharply observed, resolutely unsentimental, and wholly engaging.”
—Joyce Carol Oates, The New York Review of Books
"Compromised of seven stories and a novella...[Citkowitz] emerges as a master of both forms"
—Hilton Als, The New Yorker
“Although Citkowitz trawls familiar territory, what she does with this material is unexpected and often startling... She doesn’t sound like anyone else you’ll have read in a very long while.”
—Ligaya Mishan, The New York Times Book Review
“Evgenia Citkowitz’s Ether moves from Hollywood to estates in Long Island and London in pursuit of characters who inhabit glamour’s shadow—a novelist married to a starlet, a famous fashion editor’s daughter—but are compelled to stray outside socially acceptable margins.”
—Megan O’Grady, Vogue.com
“This engaging debut collection looks at diverse characters on the edge, as they struggle with vulnerability and the conflicts in their choices, large and small . . . Citkowitz deftly balances the rawer emotions of life—resentment, desire, humiliation—with a crafted, clever tone.”
—Leah Strauss, Booklist
“A striking debut collection of stories Citkowitz's strength is social criticism, and she captures tensions and pretensions with killer details. Richly nuanced.”
—The Christian Science Monitor
“At once strange and graceful, macabre and funny”
—Noah Baumbach, Oscar nominated writer-director of The Meyerowitz Stories and The Squid and the Whale
“I was bowled over by her writing, her grasp of character and her ability to convey depth precisely and simply. I have been reading a lot of short stories and it seems to me that she is as good if not better than Cheever... Get it.”
“These stories are so funny and electric and honest, so beautifully and artfully done, you barely notice, until you feel that slow pain in your throat, that they're absolutely breaking your heart.”
—Katherine Taylor, author of Valley Fever and Rules for Saying Goodbye