Robin McLean's award-winning debut short story collection Reptile House is inhabited by killers and thieves, astronauts, moose hunters and country club ladies, all seeking some way out, some new door to imagined happiness.
The characters in these nine stories abandon families, plot assassinations, nurse vendettas, tease, taunt, and terrorize. They retaliate for bad marriages, derail their lives with desires and delusions, and wait decades for lovers. How far will we go to escape to a better dream? What consequences must we face for hope and fantasy? Probing the dark underbelly of human nature and want, Robin McLean’s stories are strange, often disturbing and funny, and as full of foolishness and ugliness as they are of the wisdom and beauty all around us.
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"Tonally and structurally, these marvelous stories have no discernable influences. In her debut collection Robin McLean emerges as a writer with singular voice and vision. I admire this book immoderately, and I hope that readers will find it."
--Chris Bachelder, author of U.S.! and Abbott Awaits
"Robin McLean writes in wonderful cascades of language. Her characters are carried along by those cascades, often unwittingly. Sometimes, as with the two young men in “No Name Creek,” they are carried to a happy end. More often, they seem to be, like Lilibeth in “Cold Snap,” overtaken by events beyond their control. Characters’ own words, often inept or pathetic in light of their situations, offer ironic counterpoint. Much is laughable in these stories. Don’t be deceived. Through her sly wit and humor, Robin McLean is luring readers into deeper questions."
-- Frank Soos, Unified Field Theory winner of the Flannery O'Connor Prize.
"Inventive dialogue adds a humorous counterpoint to an otherwise harrowing adventure."
-- The Malahat Review
"Beautiful and strange, totally captivating, Another consciousness. Psychedelic. Hyperbolic. 'The world is full of beauty.'"
-- 2012 Flannery O'Connor Prize judge (anonymous)
“Robin McLean’s Reptile House introduces us to a debut author of audacious originality. Her stories probe the underbelly of human behavior revealing the darker motivations behind the chilling interactions she breathes to life. Like all great works of literature, the stories and characters in Reptile House will stay with you long after you close the book… and will beckon you back again and again.”
-- Peter Connor, BOA Editions.