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book cover of Grass Valley

Grass Valley

A Novella by

Four novellas:

Grass Valley - "I had the periodic table of elements in my head, the top and the tail of it but not the middle part. I had lost my way in the twenties, after calcium, and I couldnit pick it up with confidence until uranium. I could picture platinum, gold and mercury together in the sixth row, but they were adrift among osmium and hafnium and astatine and I could see no way of making sense of those. From uranium, I could get all the way to Glenn Seaborg with ease. Ninety-two to 106. Uranium to Seaborgium. In the late fifties, my grandfather had worked with Glenn Seaborg and that work was why we had come to Berkeley, my father and I."

Adam and his father Ray are on a man's roadtrip, following the Pacific Coast Highway along a golden shelf of California in a rented convertible, miles away from Adam's mother and sister in Wales. Their trip will take them by Berkley's cyclotron--where Adam's grandfather worked with colleagues to discover exotic elements they had to name themselves--but it's the trip Adam's father makes to visit an old flame Adam can't quite make sense of. Some things are even more complicated than elements with high atomic numbers.

Welcome to Normal - When Craig accompanies his supervisor Martin to the Midwest on a business trip scouting big yellow trucks, he doesn't expect much--the roadside diners and strange currency seem straight out of an old black-and-white movie--but their visit to Martin's former classmate shows Craig a side of Normal he never anticipated. It's full of foam fingers and old movie theaters, not-so-good beer and vintage cars with fins, and most of all an attractive woman and her pet-project old-time theater. What Craig will find is that Normal is more intriguing than he'd imagined.

Breaking Up - Adam's father Ray is now staying in a hotel Adam's mother brings him--and his sister Clare--to visit. It's a place where it doesn't matter if you've lost a shoe or jump on the bed. The story goes Adam's father is there on business--and maybe he is, but maybe he isn't, too. Maybe there's something more complicated going on.

The Magnificent Amberson - "The toilet itself was not what I had expected. Less still the porn."

The pedestal in the bathroom of our executive suite at the Roumei Beauty Hotel looked like something built for astronauts, or a movie prop or a tangent that design had taken some time in the near future. It had a console with covered buttons and symbols that suggested heat and jets of water and perhaps vibration. It appeared to have a function that might keep it steady in an earthquake. Useful, to a point. But the writing was all in Chinese, of course. There was a single deep-red rose petal in the pristine bowl."

Craig and Gillian are hoping to bring the quality wine from their small Queensland winery to a new market in Taipei. From pitches in corporate boardrooms to the famous night marketis infamous tofu, culture shock will play a less prominent role in their business trip than reflecting on their own professional and personal motivations. The magnificent Amberson and his big, bold dreams may help them realize their true goals. A bouquet of humor and wit, with an underlying poignant texture, aged in new media.

Maybe these four novellas are all set in one giant storyverse whose characters simply never cross. Maybe they're not. Maybe they're simply glimpses into a handful of characters and their lives--and what's more powerful than that? The Sydney Morning Herald invoked Jorge Luis Borges and Raymond Carver in discussing these stories, noting "What all of these tales have in common is masterfully crafted prose, dry but sympathetic observation and an engrossing allusion to a larger, unseen world."


Used availability for Nick Earls's Grass Valley

Kindle Editions

February 2012 : USA, Canada, UK Kindle edition

Title: Breaking Up & other novellas
Author(s): Nick Earls
Publisher: Exciting Press
Availability: Amazon   Amazon UK   Amazon CA