“THE BRINK is everything you’d want in a collection: funny, inventive, somehow both expansive and wistful. Austin Bunn is a young writer to reckon with.” — Jess Walter
A brilliant, inventive debut story collection in the vein of Kevin Wilson and Wells Tower.
Brimming with life and unforgettable voices, the stories in Austin Bunn’s dazzling collection explore the existential question: what happens at “the end” and what lies beyond it? In the wry but affecting “How to Win an Unwinnable War,” a summer class on nuclear war for gifted teenagers turns a struggling family upside down. A young couple’s idyllic beach honeymoon is interrupted by terrorism in the lush, haunting “Getting There and Away.” When an immersive videogame begins turning off in the heartbreaking “Griefer,” an obsessive player falls in love with a mysterious player in the final hours of a world.
Told in a stunning range of voices, styles, and settings—from inside the Hale-Bopp cult to the deck of a conquistador’s galleon adrift at the end of the ocean—the stories in Bunn’s collection capture the transformations and discoveries at the edge of irrevocable change. Each tale presents a distinct world, told with deep emotion, energizing language, and characters with whom we have more in common that we realize. They signal the arrival of an astonishing new talent in short fiction.
"Bunn’s debut story collection mixes genres and styles in 10 ambitious, impressive tales. Among the strongest are “Getting There & Away”—a near perfect story that involves a honeymoon, a lost ring, an explosion, and the Bali nightlife—and “Ledge,” concerning a ship in the late 15th century that discovers the literal end of the Earth and a passageway between the living and the dead. Bunn drops his characters in a variety of locales: summer school, a basement, aSecond Life–like virtual world, and the Heaven’s Gate cult just prior to its mass suicide in 1997. And while many of his stories speak to the ideas of physical and emotional loss, the author’s fearlessness in constructing interesting protagonists prevents any moments of déjà vu for the reader. These characters are uncomfortable in their own skin. Both “Ledge” and “Curious Father” contain men questioning their sexuality. And sometimes, these characters also create reader discomfort. “Griefer” finds a man so obsessed with technology that he fails to pay attention to his family, and in “When You Are the Final Girl,” Bunn crafts a particularly threatening protagonist in Randy, a man bent on drugging a teenage girl after a car accident disfigures his face. This is a compelling collection, and several of the stories are breathtaking."
Publishers Weekly, April 2015. STARRED REVIEW
“Bunn’s prose has the quality of a lantern set at the edge of a dark crevice: the light falls softly and precisely, illuminating mysteries.” — Leslie Jamison (The Gin Closet, The Empathy Exams)
“An impressive collection of stories from a writer with his ear very well attuned to the strange, often rough paths we take in search of intimacy in a deeply fractured world.” — Adam Haslett (You Are Not a Stranger Here, Union Atlantic)
“Hooray for this brazen, poignant debut. Austin Bunn brings us to terrifying places, and also to funny and wondrous ones. He’s got it all — heart, danger, precision, and music.” — Sam Lipsyte (The Fun Parts, The Ask)
"The Brink is rich and extremely satisfying. His characters -- an array of memorable voices -- are all perched on the thresholds of life-altering change. I began marking passages I wanted to return to, marveling at the precise language and fresh vision, only to discover that I was marking every pages. The Brink is an extraordinary collection." — Jill McCorkle (Life After Life, Going Away Shoes)