Man v. Nature (Hardcover)
October 2014 Indie Next List
“The stories in this collection all involve a fascination with the Great Unknown or the Great Unknowable. In absurdist fashion, Cook reveals people caught up in situations that, while impossible, ridiculous, and horrifying, appear completely normal to their protagonists. There's never an easy explanation, or in some cases no explanation at all, but the absurdities make complete sense within the framework of the tales. This is a terrific, very unusual collection, perfect for fans of Kafka or Bulgakov.”
— Bill Carl, The Booksellers on Fountain Square, Cincinnati, OH
San Francisco Chronicle Notable Book of the Year
Boston Globe's "Best Fiction of 2014"
Roxane Gay's Top Ten Books of the Year
An Amazon Best Short Story Collection of 2014
An iBook Best of 2014
A refreshingly imaginative, daring debut collection of stories which illuminates with audacious wit the complexity of human behavior, as seen through the lens of the natural world.
Told with perfect rhythm and unyielding brutality, these stories expose unsuspecting men and women to the realities of nature, the primal instincts of man, and the dark humor and heartbreak of our struggle to not only thrive, but survive. In "Girl on Girl," a high school freshman goes to disturbing lengths to help an old friend. An insatiable temptress pursues the one man she can't have in "Meteorologist Dave Santana." And in the title story, a long fraught friendship comes undone when three buddies get impossibly lost on a lake it is impossible to get lost on. In Diane Cook's perilous worlds, the quotidian surface conceals an unexpected surreality that illuminates different facets of our curious, troubling, and bewildering behavior.
Other stories explore situations pulled directly from the wild, imposing on human lives the danger, tension, and precariousness of the natural world: a pack of not-needed boys take refuge in a murky forest and compete against each other for their next meal; an alpha male is pursued through city streets by murderous rivals and desirous women; helpless newborns are snatched by a man who stalks them from their suburban yards. Through these characters Cook asks: What is at the root of our most heartless, selfish impulses? Why are people drawn together in such messy, complicated, needful ways? When the unexpected intrudes upon the routine, what do we discover about ourselves?
As entertaining as it is dangerous, this accomplished collection explores the boundary between the wild and the civilized, where nature acts as a catalyst for human drama and lays bare our vulnerabilities, fears, and desires.