From the award-winning author of Music Through the Floor and Model Home, a riveting and profoundly moving story collection by a writer “uncannily in tune with the heartbreak and absurdity of domestic life” (Los Angeles Times).
A boy on the edge of adolescence fears his mother might be a robot; a psychotically depressed woman is entrusted with taking her niece and nephew trick-or-treating; a reluctant dad brings his baby to a coke-fueled party; a teenage boy tries to prevent his mother from putting his estranged father’s dogs to sleep. Ranging from a youth arts camp to an aging punk band’s reunion tour, from a dystopian future where parents no longer exist to a ferociously independent bookstore, Last Day on Earth revolves around the endlessly complex, frequently surreal system that is family.
Eric Puchner, the author hailed as “technically gifted and emotionally insightful” (The New York Times Book Review), and someone who “puts the story back in short story” (San Francisco Chronicle Book Review), delivers a gloriously original, utterly memorable collection that invokes both the comedy and tragedy of our lifelong endeavor to come of age.
Eric Puchner is the author of the collection Music Through the Floor, a finalist for the California Book Award and the NYPL Young Lions of Fiction Award, and of the novel Model Home, a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Prize. Eric is a former Stegner Fellow, a Pushcart Prize winner and winner of an award from the Academy of Arts and Letters. His work has appeared in many literary magazines and anthologies including Best American Short Stories, Zoetrope, Best American Non-Required Reading, Tin House, and Granta. His personal essays appear regularly in GQ, Medium, and elsewhere. Eric is a professor in the writing seminars at Johns Hopkins. He lives in Baltimore with his wife, the novelist Katharine Noel, and their two children.
"Last Day on Earth is a direct hit to the solar plexus that manages to be completely entertaining. The characters in this collection are both familiar and surprising, and the grace Puchner lends to their struggles and hopes is profound. That he also writes sentences, paragraphs, pages that are funny, propulsive and true is nearly annoying, but this kind of consummate skill can only result in gleeful admiration. I can’t remember the last time I enjoyed a collection more. There is not a false note in this book.”
– Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney, author of The Nest
“Pushing the bounds of the Richter Scale, the nine stories in Last Day on Earth are going to shake up the story world."
– Adam Johnson, author of Fortune Smiles
“Eric Puchner is an alchemist who captures the joy and danger in everyday life and, with precision, humor, and empathy, turns these moments into gold. These stories allow us to look at our own lives more closely and with more courage and understanding--a poignant and unforgettable collection from a great storyteller.”
– Yiyun Li, author of Dear Friend, From My Life I Write to You in Your Life
"A skewed and fantastic vision of the world."
– Kirkus, STARRED review
"Ray Bradbury meets Tom Perrotta in this new collection which blends science fiction with all-too-real suburban horrors."
– Publishers Weekly
“Puchner deftly captures the nuances of human interactions, and while characters in the nine tales often stumble at the crossroads, there remains the hope that one day they may find the answers they seek.”
"Regardless of how modern our times might be, there's always a generation that's attempting to come of age in suburban America... these stories get right to the heart of what it feels like to be a not-quite adult."
"Well-crafted... memorable portraits of suburban angst... a unique take on themes of family and belonging."
– Michael Magras, Houston Chronicle
"Puchner shows us the many complicated facets of family and domestic life, of adolescence, parenthood, and coming of age, through a variety of highly compelling lenses."
“Puchner’s affecting collection explores the endings of things — relationships, childhood, the illusion that one is a morally upstanding person — as well as what endures for the sympathetic characters in these nine stories… top-notch realistic fiction, sensitive to the complexities of more or less ordinary lives.”