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Dzanc Books is nonprofit press specializing in literary fiction and nonfiction. In addition to publishing activities, Dzanc Books also supports the Disquiet International Literary Program.

Further Adventures in the Restless Universe, by Dawn Raffel

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Further Adventures in the Restless Universe, by Dawn Raffel


Further Adventures in the Restless Universe, by Dawn Raffel


Publication Date: March 1, 2010
Paperback: 100 pages
ISBN: 978-0-976717-79-9
Trim: 7.9 x 5.7


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When Dawn Raffel was a very small child, her father used to read to her nightly from The Restless Universe--a layman's guide to physics by the Nobel Laureate Max Born. Although she loved the time spent with her father, she didn't--despite his statements to the contary--comprehend a word of the physics. It was her first recognition that love so often comes with imperfect understanding.

The 21 stories in Further Adventures in the Restless Universe are about fathers, daughters, mothers, sisters, husbands, wives, strangers, lovers, sons, neighbors, kings, death, faith, astronomical phenomena, and the way the heart warps time. Of her previous work, one reviewer stated, "Raffel takes conventions and smashes them to bits," and another called it "extreme literature." Of Further AdventuresPublishers Weekly says, "Raffel's stripped-to-the-bone prose is a model of economy and grace."



Dawn Raffel's stories are like prismatic drops of rain, hanging from the edge of a roof or sliding down a windshield, reflecting an entire world within. The language of motherhood, of adulthood, of childhood — the language of family and individual — has never been like this. Sly and probing, with the sting of precision and pain. —Susan Straight

In Dawn Raffel's Further Adventures in the Restless Universe the oppressive truth of our mortality unsettles but does not vanquish the spirit. The woman as drudge may be "a failure at folding," but she is a rare songmaker whose dialogues with a son, a sister — the usual figures from the family romance — make for a musical and philosophical call and response. The son proposes one way to keep birds from crashing into fatally clear windows is to "open the windows all over the world." These stories promise more life. Take them to heart! —Christine Schutt

Readers have come to expect from Dawn Raffel’s prose nothing less than the syllable-by-syllable perfections of purest poetry and the boldest wisdom a human heart can hold. Her new collection of pithy, exquisite fictions about the timeless crises of mothers, daughters, and wives is breathtaking and haunting in its majestic exactitudes. —Gary Lutz

Less has never been more than in Dawn Raffel's Further Adventures in the Restless Universe. These spare, high-intensity stories of brave people at the end of their ropes are not only models of writerly integrity, but monuments of the spirit asserting itself out of the depths of silence. —David Gates


"The stories in Dawn Raffel's astonishing Further Adventures in the Restless Universe as as sharp and bright as stars." —Elissa Schappell,Vanity Fair

"Raffel’s work sits comfortably with that of authors like Amy Hempel and Diane Williams: Her prose is intense enough to make even everyday topics seem fire-hot." —Time Out New York

"Raffel nails the age-old struggle between a mother and adult daughter as they make their way awkwardly through a brief getaway, and the equally complex mix of responsibility and fierce love a mother feels while tending her 7-year-old son. In the brave and touching story 'The Air and its Relatives,' a distant father’s closeness to his daughter comes through reading together—a physics text called The Restless Universe—and patiently teaching her to drive." —Jane Ciabattari, The Daily Beast

"The short stories in Dawn Raffel's new collection Further Adventures in the Restless Universe (Dzanc Books) are gently interlaced--the same scarf from one story is purchased in another, for instance--yet rife with the author's deft, lyrical prose. They strikingly explore how small moments can influence personal and familial identity." —Mallory Rice, Nylon

"Sharp, spare stories about women at, or approaching, the end of their ropes." —Sara Nelson, O, The Oprah Magazine

"Highly imaginative stories filled with sly wit..." —Carmela Ciuraru,MORE Magazine

"In her elegant second collection (after the novel Carrying the Body), Raffel finds lyrical appeasement in the everyday concerns of raising children, being a dutiful daughter and wife, and simply enduring one's family. The mother of a seven-year-old son in 'Her Purchase' is viewed as a master of the child's universe, teaching him everything he knows, exhausted by his constant asking of questions, yet amazed, too, that she can still cherish his happiness. Raffel employs mannered dialogue to artful effect throughout, such as the phone conversation between two sisters in 'The Interruption,' in which one attempts to tell the story of how their great-aunt came from Poland to Chicago, but spirals into a halfhearted musing on frustrations in love. The mother-daughter getaway depicted in 'North of the Middle' allows the pair to dissect their frozen relationship in conversations that underscore their inability to communicate. “The Air and Its Relatives” is a marvelous glimpse at the evolution of a father-daughter relationship through snapshots of his teaching her to drive and other telling flashbacks. Raffel's stripped-to-the-bone prose is a model of economy and grace." —Publisher's Weekly

"With 21 stories in just under 100 pages, and in prose as lean and demanding as poetry, Raffel's slender second collection of short fiction holds a surprising amount of compassion and wisdom between its covers. Like those of Lydia Davis or Mary Robison, Raffel's playful metaphors and vivid snapshots of domestic life offer joy and insight. Her characters, mostly disillusioned or fearful mothers and daughters, are ever hopeful in their daily endeavors to communicate with those they love most--their families. A woman takes her seven-year-old son on a museum tour, fighting to strike a balance between motherly instruction and allowing her son to discover things for himself. Unable to sleep, a man implores his dozing wife to confess the true account of a drowned woman she often repeats. A mother finds it easier to teach her son words in other languages than to keep her promise to tell him a bedtime story. These reflective, well-tempered fictions are bursting with energy, requiring readers to look more closely at the world around them." —Jonathan Fullmer, Booklist

"Dawn Raffel poetically explores the intricacies of domestic relationships in her new short fiction collection, Further Adventures in the Restless Universe. These stories are as lyrically impressive as they are moving, and Raffel's respect for her readers' intelligence to put together the stories' puzzle pieces works to great advantage." —Largehearted Boy

"When Michael Kimball said that "nobody is writing sentences" like Dawn Raffel's sentences, he was not exaggerating. Her lines, her stories, are spiky things that don't sit easily in the hand. I felt a peculiar sort of stress as I read Further Adventures in the Restless Universe, newly published by Dzanc Books; I was confronted with how the stories resist simple narrative and scene and dialogue, while at the same time luring me in with their intoxicating mood, the emotive power behind miscommunication, and the uncertain standing her characters--like us readers--have in the world. There is something precise and potent in Raffel's brief tales of family, lovers, and attempts to connect (twenty-one stories are collected in this 100-page book); each tale is a portal to the tender points that serve as a harmonic to our everyday talk and our deep memory." —Anna Clark,Isak

"Reality may be an adventure in Raffel's cleverly and artfully crafted new collection, and as she writes it, is always an adventure worth taking." —Sara C. Rauch, NewPages

"A slim collection of enigmatic and elliptical short stories, Further Adventures in the Restless Universe is a striking work of fiction, and, truthfully, the only way to do it justice is to quote from it, so stunning are its sentences, so clear and concise, and so carefully crafted. To wit: 'He is looking, she is thinking, at a woman getting drenched' and 'The windshield is salted with droppings and grit' and 'There was more of her broken' and on and on I could go." —Geoffrey Brown, Ottawa Xpress

"Read this book for amazement." —Greatest Lakes Review