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The Middle-Aged Man and the Sea [Kindle Edition]

Christopher Meeks
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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Product Description

Product Description

Here is a story collection about love, death, humor, and the glue called family. In one narrative, a man wakes up one morning to find the odor of dead fish won't go away, but no one else can smell it. In another, a couple's visit with friends to watch the Academy Awards has the protagonist envying his friends' lawn and lifestyle. In these and eleven other stories, Christopher Meeks balances tragedy and wit. As novelist David Scott Milton explains, "In this collection, Christopher Meeks examines the small heartbreaks of quiet despair that are so much a part of all our lives. He does it in language that is resonant, poetic, and precise.... If you like Raymond Carver, you'll love Meeks. He may be as good--or better."

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 344 KB
  • Print Length: 158 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0615249175
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Publisher: White Whisker Books; First edition (1 Jan. 2006)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B002K2RI1A
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #263,116 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The art of storytelling 3 Mar. 2006
By Kurt Messick HALL OF FAME
Format:Paperback
Christopher Meeks, author of several children's books as well as a playwright, has put together an interesting collection of short stories in 'The Middle-Aged Man and the Sea'. Meeks is a good storyteller, and draws on the ordinary and mundane and combines it with the sublime and esoteric in new and fascinating ways.
In the first story, there is a new look on envy and keeping up with the Jones, as a couple visits their neighbours for an Academy Award party, but find the grass-is-greener life in that house isn't in fact the perfect bliss one might hope for; in another story (the one that gives title to the collection), an ordinary fishing trip turns into a psychological trip as significant revelations are made that leave the characters at a want for words.
Most of the stories look toward a darker impulse, a foreboding or ominous presence, or some other indication of limitation and mortality. 'The Scent' explores in some ways the psychological power of the sense of smell, but also the ways in which decay comes into our lives on a larger level. One can get from these stories a sense of love and sense of loss, a feeling of hope and the stab of despair. A remarkable aspect of these stories is their subtlety - the stories don't jump out with neon signs signifying meaning, but rather let the meaning seep into the more-ordinary tasks and situations of life.
Meeks is a good narrative writer, equally adept at description as well as a conversation and explanation. Each story has engaging characters who are familiar, yet with significant attributes that make them interesting to follow. I kept finding myself wanting more from each story, which is the mark of good writing for me, that the well has not run dry.
I look forward to further writings by Christopher Meeks.
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5.0 out of 5 stars From "Red Adept Reviews" 17 May 2011
Format:Kindle Edition
Plot/Storyline: 4 1/2

For the most part, these stories did not have traditional `plots'. Most of them were simple short character studies involving relationships.

The relationships are a broad range from spousal to maternal. Tragedies abound in many of the works, but it is introduced so subtly that the reader must stop to contemplate each event.

This work is filled with terrific metaphors, detailed descriptions and skilled storytelling.

"The Scent" was my favorite. It was intriguing and had a jolt at the end. I also enjoyed "Green River".

Two or three of the stories were rather bland and seemed to drag on longer than necessary. However, out of thirteen, that's a pretty good ratio.

Character Development: 5 Stars
Each character in these stories is developed to the fullest extent possible in the space allowed. For the time it takes to read each one, you are catapulted into the mind and soul of the protagonist.

Writing Skill: 4 3/4 Stars

This book was written by a literary artist with a firm grasp of the English language and knows of all that it is capable.

The dialogue was a bit stilted in a couple of the stories, most notably the first one.

To be perfectly honest, the stories were not of my usual fare. While I did gain some enjoyment, most of my thrill came from the writing technique.

Editing/Formatting: 5 Stars

The editing was of commercially published quality. The formatting was fine, although, I did wish for a working Table of Contents.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars 14 Aug. 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Book in great condition and arrived speedily.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.1 out of 5 stars  36 reviews
31 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 'You were just around for a series of coincidences and then you died.' 11 Jan. 2006
By Grady Harp - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Christopher Meeks bounces onto the literary scene as a vibrant new voice filled with talent and imagination. THE MIDDLE-AGED MAN & THE SEA is one of the finer collection of short stories that will rapidly rise to the top to of the heap of a battery of fine writers of this difficult medium.

Meeks writes about all the little bumps and stumbling blocks we all face in our contemporary journey through life. His stories deal with broken marriages, fractured dreams, death, brain damage, isolation, envy, frustrated communication - all topics that hardly sound like fodder for interesting stories, but in Meeks' polished hands these topics become the conversation of life in society today. They contain keen humor, pain as well as tenderness, and insights into topics that most other writers consider taboo.

There isn't a weak story in the thirteen works here, most having been published in literary magazines prior to this book form. 'Green River' is a family outing that reveals the dissolution of companionship in a few terse pages. 'He's Home' is a quick tale of a man, probably cyclothymic or bipolar, bringing flowers home to his wife only to find she has left him: his response to this lonely discovery explains the probable reasons for her departure. Meeks is able to travel back in time to explore personal idiosyncrasies as in 'The Rotary' and in 'Dear Ma'. In the latter he also manages to take us inside the mind of a failing senile woman (?Alzheimer's victim?) and is written with such finesse and grace that we actually find ourselves thinking in the way Dear Ma's deteriorating mind works. It is a jewel of a story. 'The Fundamentals of Nuclear Dating' is a funny tale that holds a bite and says a lot about our 21st century computer driven dating (read data gathering) consequences. 'Engaging Ben' is as keen an observation of current bonding as any story out there. Et cetera for the rest of the tales.

The odd and strangely wonderful and unique aspect of these is not only the fine writing of a terrific wordsmith, it is also the fact that Meeks is asking us or inviting us to look at the darker things in our lives that go bump in the night. Life in Meeks' stories is full of random coincidences that, depending on our state of vulnerability vs our state of awareness, can either uncover hidden pain or turn on a light to illuminate the elected darkness in which we have chosen to live. He peoples his stories with variations of us and our extended family of humanity and turns us inside out, showing us how our microsecond of life on this planet can be a time of significance or inadvertently squandered.

Biting and sassy, eloquent and intelligent, this collection of short stories is excellent reading. Meeks knows his craft: these tiny microcosms of living offer proof that his novels, soon to come, will be works to watch. Very Highly Recommended.

Grady Harp, January 06
19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Why can't all writers be like Christopher Meeks? 5 April 2006
By Adam Daniel Mezei - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I'll admit that I'd started reading THE MIDDLE-AGED MAN AND THE SEA during an evening, becoming so engrossed in its chapters that I'd wanted to finish it off in one sitting. I couldn't -- Fairies and Dreamland were calling -- but that was the sole reason I hadn't.

Middle-aged Man is *that* compelling. Meeks has this uncanny ability to thrust you right into the center of his characters' sundry dilemmas, desires, and demands -- as if you're standing right there next to them, or sitting one bar stool over listening to their wonderful chats about wine, their musings about the wisdom of the next Shuttle launch, or their ebullient waxing about the velveteen smoothness of Breyer's coffee-flavored ice cream.

As an unrepentant reader, I simply crave books like Middle-aged Man. In general, I want my hard-copied prose to move me. I wish it to twist up my emotions up like a high-tensile spring, then tossing it hither-tither; only at the end to liberate it majestically, like the former occupation of Czechoslovakia: glorious, unencumbered, and free.

I'll only give you a smattering of Meeks' prosaic samples to whet your appetite:

"...a man who ran a steakhouse, but looked like he could run the country."

"...Californicated"

"...Plan your work, and work your plan."

Punctuated. Polished. Perfect!

Like I said, this is merely a smattering.

Within a compact 145 pp, Meeks manages to cram in a delectable smorgasbord of witty metaphors, sage middle-aged reflections, and the wisdom of a well-loved and well-lived man who possesses a depth well-beyond the deceptive chimera of a finite number of earth-years.

As I happily breezed through this read, pondering the magnitude of Meeks' mantra, I couldn't help but let a part of my mind drift towards what I staunchly felt was more than a handful of captivating film ideas. Producers? String a few of these stories together, and you've got the makings of the next MAGNOLIA. I digress...

I guess I can speak for most readers who are fatigued with all the spoonfed jujeune runaround which seems to adorn the spic-and-span oaken shelves of our box-store book emporia.

What we desperately need is more gritty, more hard-hitting, more so-viscerally-real-it-smarts copy that Meeks skillfully dishes up in this astounding collection of tales.

I'll certainly be keeping my eyes out for more from this scribe. In other words, count me in. Big time.
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "We're all slammed with the unexpected." 12 April 2009
By Sam Sattler - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Nine of the thirteen stories in this first Christopher Meeks short story collection were first published in journals and literary magazines around the country, and anyone reading this little book will certainly understand why that happened. Meeks has a particular talent for getting into the heads of his characters and taking their doubts and concerns as seriously as the characters themselves take them. As a result, readers of Chris Meeks stories do the same.

Not all of these stories are about middle-aged people; some of the main characters are in their twenties, some in their thirties, but they have all reached a place where uneasiness about the future dominates their lives.

The stories are about relationships - between marriage partners, between couples choosing to live together rather than marry, between daters, and between family members of different generations. There are men and women unhappy about what their marriages have become, older men being pressured into marriage by younger women who are becoming more and more desperate to get it done, and older people simply trying to die with a little dignity. Some of the stories are funny, some are touching and sad, and one of them has a Hitchcock-like ending. What all the stories have in common, though, is the ease with which the reader slips into and out of them, along the way learning something about himself and his own state of mind.

My personal favorite, "Nike Had Nothing to Do with It," is an ironic tale about a man who heads out on a run to relieve his anger after the mother of his newborn daughter announces that their relationship is no longer working. What happens next is not what either of them expected when the day began.

Particularly touching are the stories about dying, "Dear Ma," in which an old woman hides more and more in her past as her days run out, and "The Rotary," in which a loyal and loving grandson receives an unexpected gift at his grandfather's deathbed. Meeks, however, manages to make serious points even when he uses humor in his stories. "Divining" is about a man who has become so "Californicated" that, even in all of his weirdness, he believes that he is the normal one and the rest of the world is out of step. And, in "Shooting Funerals," another of my favorites, a 38-year-old woman tries to reinvent herself by becoming the world's first "funeral photographer" - and is honestly surprised by the reaction she gets on her first job.

"The Middle-Aged Man & the Sea" is a very fine short story collection and I highly recommend it, especially to those readers who might be dipping seriously into the short story genre for the first time.

This modern day collection is an excellent place to start.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The art of storytelling 3 Mar. 2006
By FrKurt Messick - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Christopher Meeks, author of several children's books as well as a playwright, has put together an interesting collection of short stories in 'The Middle-Aged Man and the Sea'. Meeks is a good storyteller, and draws on the ordinary and mundane and combines it with the sublime and esoteric in new and fascinating ways.

In the first story, there is a new look on envy and keeping up with the Jones, as a couple visits their neighbours for an Academy Award party, but find the grass-is-greener life in that house isn't in fact the perfect bliss one might hope for; in another story (the one that gives title to the collection), an ordinary fishing trip turns into a psychological trip as significant revelations are made that leave the characters at a want for words.

Most of the stories look toward a darker impulse, a foreboding or ominous presence, or some other indication of limitation and mortality. 'The Scent' explores in some ways the psychological power of the sense of smell, but also the ways in which decay comes into our lives on a larger level. One can get from these stories a sense of love and sense of loss, a feeling of hope and the stab of despair. A remarkable aspect of these stories is their subtlety - the stories don't jump out with neon signs signifying meaning, but rather let the meaning seep into the more-ordinary tasks and situations of life.

Meeks is a good narrative writer, equally adept at description as well as a conversation and explanation. Each story has engaging characters who are familiar, yet with significant attributes that make them interesting to follow. I kept finding myself wanting more from each story, which is the mark of good writing for me, that the well has not run dry.

I look forward to further writings by Christopher Meeks.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A marvelous collection of short stories 21 Oct. 2009
By J. Chambers - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Until I got my Amazon Kindle, I hadn't read many short stories since high school. With the Kindle, however, I've been sampling a wider variety of literature, including several short story collections. Christopher Meeks' "The Middle-Aged Man and the Sea" is one of the best of these that I've read. The book includes thirteen stories, most of them previously published, and I enjoyed all of them; every story had its own merits, and there were no stories included just to pad the collection.

Mr. Meeks is a good writer, with very polished and professional prose and a lot of imagination. His stories varied considerably, although the common theme for most of the stories was relationships between people, usually between men and women. Some stories are complete; others are like excerpts from a longer story, where the reader can imagine the outcome.

The title story, "The Middle-Aged Man and the Sea," is about a fishing trip taken by two brothers-in-law. A startling revelation by one of the men changes everything and puts their lives in sharp perspective. Another story, "Academy Award Afternoon and Evening," raises issues of how we deal with death of a loved one and the awkwardness that it brings.

"Green River" depicts the misery of a loveless marriage and the longing by one spouse to reach out and connect with another person who shares his feelings. One of the stories, "The Fundamentals of Nuclear Dating," was laugh-out-loud funny, especially the nine rules of dating for a divorced man. "Shooting Funerals" is also funny and will convince you that videography of funerals is an idea whose time has not yet come.

If I had to pick a favorite story, it would be "Divining," a quirky story about a man who needs both a job and to be loved. He ultimately finds both, but in a very unlikely way.

After reading this sample of Christopher Meeks' work, I'm looking forward to reading more. He's a crackerjack writer who understands human emotions and relationships, and he weaves these into his stories in such a way that most readers will empathize with his characters.

Bottom line: Two thumbs up.
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