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Waiting for Elvis

Stories by Toni Graham


Winner of the 2006 John Gardner Award for Fiction

The most beguiling single woman since Bridget Jones
in eleven darkly comic interconnected stories

 

Toni Graham’s smart, libidinous stories about single women in transition have a dark and eccentric comic underside that won her first collection, The Daiquiri Girls, the highly competitive American Writing Programs Award for Short Fiction. In her second, Waiting for Elvis she gives center stage to Jane, the most outlandish of the four ‘Girls,’ a ridiculously neurotic psychotherapist turned dog-walker whose own life is falling apart.

In twelve interconnected stories that read as seamlessly as a novel, Jane encounters some of the more challenging issues on the approach to middle age -- divorce, dating, death of a partner, sexual anxiety, parents who can no longer care for themselves, a dead-end career, a formerly gorgeous body now visibly aging -- and improvises her way through them with uneven success and wildly entertaining chutzpah.

Facing the dim prospect of living the rest of her life alone, but not hot-wired for self-pity, or for that matter, patience, Jane steers full throttle at every challenge life throws in her path, ever reminded that meeting the right man is as likely as a proposal from a dead Elvis. Created with sharp, stylish prose and a truly macabre sense of humor, Jane is remarkably real and totally unapologetic. Toni Graham is a writer who is at once personal and fearless; her stories intimate and wicked; her style a new kind of literary pop fiction: Jean Rhys meets Bridget Jones.

“Offbeat secondary characters— twin Goth-girl therapy patients, a man who gives his dog coffee enemas—recur in several of the tales, so that each distinct story reads like a chapter in a well-crafted novel.”

The Washington Post


“Graham creates a character at once sexy and sad … the linked tales seamlessly capture Jane’s progression from widowed lover to wise woman of the world.”

-- Publishers Weekly

“What's remarkable about Toni Graham's first book, THE DAIQUIRI GIRLS a collection of short stories about four 30-something or older women, is that Graham takes characters who could easily become dreary stereotypes—and fleshes them out beautifully. Graham doesn't wallow in these women's vulnerability, but she doesn't apologize for it either. She uses their loneliness and confusion as backdrops for the action, not as personality traits. Her prose is entertaining without being forced: Graham allows a good deal of brainy good humor to flow naturally.”

--The New York Times Book Review

 “Endowed with undeniable satiric gifts, Graham’s instinct for taking characters beyond what we consider socially acceptable and yet maintaining their essential, deep realism often surprises…and provides moments of heartbreaking poignancy.”

--Times Literary Supplement (London) 

“Graham writes beautifully, with flair and bite and originality. Her stories read like Jean Rhys. There is no possibility of mistaking the talent and art with which they are made.”

--The San Jose Mercury News 

“The ingenious way Toni Graham draws us into the crazy-quilt consciousness of her protagonist is a delight. Each obstacle set in Jane's path, each new calamity that befalls her, is interwoven with a series of memories and association/episodes from Jane's childhood, messages from billboards and television, epiphanies from half-remembered movies, bits of urban folklore, and tabloid headlines. In offering us a close view of the warp and woof of one woman's psyche, Graham reveals the weave of American culture --only it's the underside of the tapestry, where all the frayed knots and loose stitching have started to come undone. The stories in this collection are beautifully rendered, with an eye and an ear for revelatory detail. Toni Graham's is a voice that calls out in the wilderness, while still managing to sound smart and sexy.”
--Scott Landers, Author of Coswell's Guide to Tambralinga

“Toni Graham’s stories are as intimate, intelligent, and intensely ‘feminine’ as those of Jane Bowles or Jean Rhys. Her work is full of heart, smarts, honesty, and a wickedness that is uniquely her own. Classy stuff from a very cool writer.”

--Molly Giles, Author of Iron Shoes


“These related stories mark a moment in literature I've long waited for: the story of a woman who, like so many other women in America, feels pushed out of the realm of the sexual and vital at a point in middle age when she's not ready to go meekly.  With scathing honesty, furious wit, beautiful precision, and a reckless relish for life's ironies, Graham portrays a heroine whose dogged, if wildly erratic, efforts to live and not quietly decline are by turns uproarious, hapless, pragmatic, and deeply moving. This collection of stories reads like a novel, right down to the flawed, forgiving humanity of its closing lines, earned on every page of this amazing book.”

--Catherine Brady, Author of Curled in the Bed of Love


“Jane has lost her lover.  She’s shattered, brought to the edge, looks into the abyss.   What she sees -- her saving vision -- is desperately comic.  We have all the details of her loneliness and lust, her work and play, and it is great fun. Graham is an exuberant, no-holds-barred writer whose inventions won’t be thwarted by grief.”

--Leo Litwak, Author of The Medic and Nobody’s Baby

Toni Graham Elvis Authot.JPG (8604 bytes)
Toni Graham is a native of San Francisco, currently an Assistant Professor at Oklahoma State University. Her first book, The Daiquiri Girls  (University of Massachusetts Press) was the winner of the Associated Writing Programs Award for Short Fiction. Among many magazines, her stories have appeared in Other Voices, Writers Forum, and Playgirl.  

CATEGORY: Fiction / Short Stories
PAGES: 216
TRIM: 6 x 9
ISBN: 0-9728984-4-1
PRICE: $14.95/ Paperback Original 



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