Fitting Ends By Dan Chaon


Might be a good book for some, I don't know. All I know is I got a few pages into the second story and quit. I checked the description for this book and cannot for the life of me figure out why I decided to buy it. Sorry, but just not interested. I need something that grabs me at the very beginning and holds me to the end. Paperback I liked these stories, but not as much as I liked the stories in the author's subsequent book, Among The Missing. The reason for this is probably because this book contained his earlier work, and he had not yet become a seasoned writer. I liked some stories better than others. Often, I was not satisfied with the endings to these stories. I did enjoy the author interview at the end of the book. I found that interview illuminating. Paperback A beautiful collection of shorts stories I had the pleasure of reading between everything else I put in front of my eyeballs this fall. I'm a fan of Chaon's work for sure. Faves include Transformations, Do You Know What I Mean?, and Fittings Ends. Paperback I didn't realize I had not read this until I picked up Sleepwalk. But I've loved everything else Dan Chaon has written--including aforementioned Sleepwalk--so I hurried to pick up a copy.

These stories fell short when stacked against his other work; they were distant, in my opinion, and ineffective. Not nearly as inventive as his later writing. Which is okay once I realized this was chronologically his first collection, but I'm definitely glad I came to this after happily enjoying everything else.

The writing is good, as is to be expected. But again, these felt like something of a discard pile, and for anyone interested in his work, I highly suggest starting with Among the Missing or Stay Awake.
Noting this collection was published back in 1995, I still couldn't help but feel a dull indifference when I came to the story about a character who moved to New York and dropped out of school to become an actor and work at a bar/dress in drag. It felt particularly dated. Paperback I could only get through a few of these depressing stories. I love Dan Chaon and his other short fiction collection, Among the Missing. This earlier collection is not as effective as his later work. Paperback


Loved these stories as Chanon wastes no time in developing the central tensions of the story between characters. These are stories whose central tensions can at once evoke “I know what it’s like to be in those shoes” feelings along side the grateful nod that I’m not. Paperback These thirteen stories, set mostly on the outskirts of Denver or in the small fictional (I think) town of St. Bonventure, have a wide range, but pessimism runs through them all, along with the inexplicability of what constitutes love, or what plans to make for one's life. The young characters are often dealing with a parent's mental illness or alcoholism, each responding differently. Several of the characters try to break from their small-town roots which leaves them in conflict with those they've left behind. Ghosts and other visions sometimes appear too, perhaps as a memory of a character's past self. Each story ends on the edge of a moment, leaving the reader to decide what the future holds for that particular character. Compelling and effective. Paperback Before I draw nearer to that stone to which you point, said Scrooge, answer me one question. Are these the shadows of things that Will be, or are they the shadows of things that May be, only? - Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol

Dan Chaon is so good :-) My favorites are still Await Your Reply and Stay Awake, but I have also enjoyed reading You Remind Me of Me and Among the Missing. This edition of Fitting Ends has a nice interview Q&A section that is very illuminating. I like that Dan's writing leaves the reader at a door of decision and we have to try to figure out what happens next.

I enjoyed most of the stories in one degree or another. My very favorites are Chinchilla and Thirteen Windows. Other favorite stories in this collection include:
Going Out
Spirit Voices
Sure I Will
Do You Know What I Mean?

Paperback This was a GREAT first book of this author's career.

It's hard to write reviews for books like these; collections of short stories, but I'll try.

This book touched me so deeply and was such an accurate representation of people in my age group. The stories touched on family relationships and friendships, and the feelings of confusion, hopelessness, disappointment, and depression that so many young adults battle with daily. The characters felt so real, and I was able to form connections to them and become invested almost immediately. This is a good thing because there is not much time to be spent with characters in a short story. I found the stories Transformations, Accidents, and Fitting Ends to be particularly emotional.

The writing in this story was wonderful and matched perfectly with the style of story telling (an important thing for me as a reader), and had the ease and flow that I've come to expect form Dan Chaon. The characters came alive on the page, the settings were vivid, and the stories were completely immersive and effective in their brevity. I loved this collection and recommend it to fans of short story collections and emotional works. Paperback This is a fine collection of stories by a young writer whose intuitive grasp of life's ambiguities combines with a well-developed storytelling ability to give the reader much to enjoy and ruminate on. Mostly set in a small town in western Nebraska, these stories have youthful protagonists who are often at a loss or are simply lost. Their lives have veered off course, somehow, or gone into a stall, and they're like the recovering young alcoholic in Going Out, who is sober but bewildered, losing ground, finally walking down a dark country road in his boxer shorts, startled by the ghostly face of a curious cow.

There is the mystery of identity that runs through many of these stories, from the young man in the first story My Sister's Honeymoon: A Videotape, who ponders his sister's personality change when she gets married, to the high school student in Transformations, whose older brother has revealed himself as not only gay but a female impersonator. In Fraternity, a young man discovers that a fraternity brother injured in a car accident is no longer the person he once was. A girlfriend in Rapid Transit tells a young office worker, You're not who you think you are.

Meanwhile children struggle to understand their parents. In two stories, the mothers have histories of mental illness. In another, the title story, a young man puzzles over a wayward older brother whose life seems to take a fatal turn after the telling of a lie. The richness of how circumstance alters and often diminishes identity is particularly well drawn in this story. The protagonist, on a visit home, reflects on how the loose threads of lives may come together for a moment in the mind's eye or the heart, like the neat ending of a short story, but because life is not art they unravel again.

While all this may sound a bit bleak, it is not. The stories leave you with uncertainties about the characters, whose lives are often tentative and touched with unresolved regrets, but there is a lightness and a degree of irony about them that make their ambiguities linger afterward in a way that's nicely gratifying. For another collection of well-written stories with a rural setting, I recommend Kent Meyers' Light in the Crossing. Also, set in a small town not far from Chaon's fictional St. Bonaventure, Nebraska, there's Kent Haruf's fine novel, Plainsong. Paperback

Fitting Ends is the first collection of fiction by the acclaimed author of the National Book Award finalist Among the Missing and now appears in this newly revised edition with two never before collected stories.
Written before Among the Missing and originally published by Northwestern University Press, Fitting Ends features thirteen stories detailing the almost panicked angst of the American generation now approaching thirty.  Struggling with gaps between youthful expectations and adult experiences, these characters long for understanding and acceptance—but are thwarted by failed love, family disruptions, numbing work, and sexual confusion. 
Chaon is one of the most promising new voices in fiction, and this re-issued collection offers further evidence of his unique talent.

“The best of these stories . . . possess a rare, disorienting force. When you look up from them, the quality of light seems a little different. It’s a reminder to those of us who have almost forgotten what literature can sometimes do.”
—Boston Book Review

“The most honest, observant and timely book written this year about the American generation now approaching thirty . . . Chaon speaks with clarity of feeling, and more than a little oddball wit, about the lives of those left behind the demographic curve of America—men and woman with pointless jobs, doughy faces, soured relationships, bad credit. . . . Each story pulls you into its subtle emotional vortex, largely because of Chaon’s knack for simple but poignant detail.”
—New York Newsday

“Remarkable . . . Each story is a marvel of complexity, dense with meaning and nuance. . . . Very few first works are as solid, moving, and pitch-perfect as Chaon’s.”
—The Cleveland Plain Dealer

—The New York Times Book Review

Fitting Ends