Do Not Forsake Me, Oh My Darling contains ten darkly funny short stories by Maura Stanton. Anything can happen in this swiftly narrated book, which provides glimpses of Gertrude Stein playing Ping-Pong with a GI in Paris during World War II, a famous contemporary writer giving a haircut in a bar in Eureka, California, and Katherine Mansfield struggling to write her final stories in Montana, Switzerland.
Stanton introduces the reader to other unforgettable characters, such as a girl with a clown phobia who falls in love with Joujou the clown, and a woman who thinks that her dead sister has written a very bad novel. The settings of Do Not Forsake Me, Oh My Darling are as varied as the characters. A basket of steamed crabs might show up on a kitchen table in Baltimore; arctic air might freeze nose hairs in Minnesota; a blizzard might isolate a town in Nebraska; rain might cancel a rock concert in the Alps.
The characters in Stanton’s lively stories try to sort out their lives by telling stories or listening closely to the stories of other people. Two sisters interrogate each other about different versions of the party that changed their lives forever. A young woman entertains and shocks her friends in a café with a funny story about her first love affair. A landlady tries to reconstruct the life of a Sicilian immigrant whose ashes she finds in a trailer.
In capturing with wit and sensitivity the struggles of its characters to make sense of the many strange and ordinary occurrences of everyday life, Do Not Forsake Me, Oh My Darling reminds us that we are all, in some sense, characters in many of life’s different stories.
“. . . a stunning variety of dark, passionate, reflective stories. Stanton’s glistening strength is her ability to drop intriguing details into her pages that would be red herrings in less skilled writing, but by her hand they become tantalizing tendrils leading to mysterious places beyond her narrative.” — North Dakota Quarterly
“Without exception, these 10 stories are compulsively readable, incisive and smart. . . . Stanton . . . is a smooth writer, one whose pieces stab quickly to the heart, reveal an essential truth about human nature and neatly . . . flit out.” — Chicago Tribune
“A sensitive and amusing new collection. . . . — Kirkus Reviews
“In this collection of finely wrought short stories, Stanton, a professor at Indiana University, displays her keen ability to capture characters who are outwardly unnoticeable but yield unexpected complexities upon closer inspection. Readers will be captivated by these lyric and poignant stories.” — Booklist
“Ten darkly funny short stories that prove to be unpredictable, smart, and lively. . . . ” — Ploughshares
“Looking long and steadily at another human being through one’s own distorting lenses is not merely difficult, it is often downright impossible—but the endeavor provides ample material for dramatic storytelling. The characters . . . here play out their approach/avoidance maneuvers in various, sometimes bizarre ways. Whether exemplary, run-of-the-mill, or cautionary figures, they all demonstrate how tortuous and exhilarating it is to acknowledge that other people actually do exist.” — Georgia Review
Winner of the 2002 Richard Sullivan Prize in Short Fiction