“Rutherford’s wildly inventive collection is nothing short of a revelation. From polar expeditions to family turmoil, no experience is beyond this very fine writer’s ambitious grasp. He gives us the world with each story, with the world’s full measure of heartbreak and hilarity.” Ben Fountain / National Book Critics Circle award-winning author of Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk
“A confident and winning collection, every story in The Peripatetic Coffin feels necessary and true. Ethan Rutherford gets it.” Patrick DeWitt / author of The Sisters Brothers
Alternately funny, menacing, and deeply empathetic, the eight wildly inventive stories in The Peripatetic Coffin mark the debut of a powerful new voice in contemporary fiction. Worried about waning enrollment, the head counselor of the world’s worst summer camp leads his campers on a series of increasingly dubious escapades in an effort to revive their esprit de corps. A young boy on a sailing vacation with his father comes face to face with a dangerous stranger, and witnesses a wrenching act of violence. Parents estranged from their disturbed son must gird themselves for his visit, even as they cannot face each other. And in the dazzling title story, the beleaguered crew of the first Confederate submarine embarks on their final, doomed mission during the closing days of the Civil War. Whether set aboard a Tsarist-era Russian ship locked in Arctic ice, on a futuristic whaling expedition whose depredations guarantee the environmental catastrophe that is their undoing, or in the suburban basement where two grade-school friends articulate their mutual obsessions, these strange, imaginative, and refreshingly original stories explore the ways in which we experience the world: as it is, as it could be, and the dark contours that lie between.
“Ethan Rutherford’s stories are funny and wrenching and feature hapless fatalists who nonetheless never stop striving, whose motto might be It’s Not Too Late to Take Responsibility for What We’re Doing, even as they continue to squander such opportunities. And yet they never let us forget that there’s always the possibility that they will learn-even if it’s the hard way-to see beyond themselves.” Jim Shepard / author of National Book Award finalist Like You’d Understand Anyway
“Ethan Rutherford’s stories are absolutely perfect. . . I rarely feel this close to heartbreak, this strengthened by a writer clearly doing something special.” Kevin Wilson / author of The Family Fang
“Moving seamlessly from one world to another, from oceans to a snow-covered meadow to the rooms of childhood, each story is a vessel of longing and possibility . . . . this book is a revelatory feat of the imagination, and The Peripatetic Coffin is an incomparable, vital debut.” Paul Yoon / author of Once the Shore and Snow Hunters
“This is a flat-out beautiful book of stories.” Charles Baxter / author of the National Book Award finalist The Feast of Love
“Ethan Rutherford can slay you with humor and buoy you within the midst of tragedy. His range is amazing. Every story is 100% Grade-A storytelling.” Alice Sebold / author of The Lovely Bones