Fresh Complaint

Jeffrey Eugenides

Jeffrey Eugenides’s bestselling novels have shown that he is an astute observer of the crises of adolescence, sexual identity, self-discovery, family love, and what it means to be an American in our times. The stories in Fresh Complaint continue that tradition. Ranging from the reproductive antics of “Baster” to the wry, moving account of a young traveler’s search for enlightenment in “Air Mail” (selected by Annie Proulx for The Best American Short Stories 1997), this collection presents characters in the midst of personal and national crises. We meet a failed poet who, envious of other people’s wealth during the real-estate bubble, becomes an embezzler; a clavichordist whose dreams of art collapse under the obligations of marriage and fatherhood; and, in “Bronze,” a sexually confused college freshman whose encounter with a stranger on a train leads to a revelation about his past and his future. Narratively compelling, beautifully written, and packed with a density of ideas that belie their fluid grace, Fresh Complaint proves Eugenides to be a master of the short form as well as the long.

Reviews of Fresh Complaint

  • [An] excellent short story collection … Eugenides deploys his pronounced gifts for comedy and characterisation at the same time as he builds an overwhelming atmosphere of suffocation’ Guardian

    ‘A very good short story writer…they are a breeze to read and Eugenides inhabits each new consciousness with easy confidence’ The Times

    ‘I adored Fresh Complaint … beautifully written and couldn’t be more topical’ Observer, Books of the Year

    ‘Eugenides has always been known as a master of prose, a sharp and precise writer whose use of language is second to none …If you want a manageable yet unputtdownable reading experience for the week, it has to be thisSunday Times Style Magazine

    ‘The ten stories that make up Fresh Complaint, Eugenides first collection, boast a wide range of themes – a collage of the writer’s myriad of interests and voices’ TLS

    ‘Deftly drawn sketches … most concern the tribulations of growing older, and the infernal complications of family life as we adjust to the requirements of ever-changing circumstances’ Financial Times

    ‘The collection explores the connection between the inner and outer life, with a suave wit and equanimity that make it deceptively conversationalLiterary Review

    ‘These are poignantly told, but it’s the characters who are feeling an emotional lack that make the biggest impact’ Daily Mail

    ‘Jeffrey Eugenides’s beautifully written collection of short stories Fresh Complaint is not only the best thing I’ve read all year – it also couldn’t be more 2017, featuring transgender teenagers, rape allegations on campus and much more besides’ Rohan Silva, Evening Standard, Books of the Year

    There is much to enjoy and admire; notably the fact there’s not a dud in the collection, an achievement that’s harder to pull off that it might seem’ Independent