Wednesday, October 22, 2014

BLOG TOUR: Man V. Nature by Diane Cook

Title: Man V. Nature
Author: Diane Cook
Genre: Short Story Fiction
Publisher: Harper
Release Date: Oct 7/2014
Acquired: Print ARC sent by Publisher
Goodreads: ADD

A refreshingly imaginative, daring debut collection of stories which illuminates with audacious wit the complexity of human behavior, as seen through the lens of the natural world.

Told with perfect rhythm and unyielding brutality, these stories expose unsuspecting men and women to the realities of nature, the primal instincts of man, and the dark humor and heartbreak of our struggle to not only thrive, but survive. In “Girl on Girl,” a high school freshman goes to disturbing lengths to help an old friend. An insatiable temptress pursues the one man she can’t have in “Meteorologist Dave Santana.” And in the title story, a long fraught friendship comes undone when three buddies get impossibly lost on a lake it is impossible to get lost on. In Diane Cook’s perilous worlds, the quotidian surface conceals an unexpected surreality that illuminates different facets of our curious, troubling, and bewildering behavior.

Other stories explore situations pulled directly from the wild, imposing on human lives the danger, tension, and precariousness of the natural world: a pack of not-needed boys take refuge in a murky forest and compete against each other for their next meal; an alpha male is pursued through city streets by murderous rivals and desirous women; helpless newborns are snatched by a man who stalks them from their suburban yards. Through these characters Cook asks: What is at the root of our most heartless, selfish impulses? Why are people drawn together in such messy, complicated, needful ways? When the unexpected intrudes upon the routine, what do we discover about ourselves?

As entertaining as it is dangerous, this accomplished collection explores the boundary between the wild and the civilized, where nature acts as a catalyst for human drama and lays bare our vulnerabilities, fears, and desires.


BEST SHORT STORY COLLECTION I've read all year. I'm still fairly new to the genre of short story fiction, but I'm realizing that I've already become picky about the ones I'll agree to read. Man V. Nature has definitely set the standard for me. It was quirky and dark, and completely raw with emotion. It was the first time, in perhaps EVER, that I welcomed ambiguity with such open arms. Short stories have a tendency to end on an annoyingly cryptic note, and for the life of me, I can never get myself to appreciate the literary art of such a technique. But Man V. Nature was unstoppable and all-encompassing. Diane Cook's writing made a direct hit on my most vulnerable spots.

I want to single out a particular story I enjoyed the most, but the thought of doing so feels akin to picking a favorite child. I don't have children, but I suspect that it's nearly impossible and completely unfair. Every story in Man V. Nature was a force on its own. If there was a gun to my head, I would tell you that 'The Way the End of Days Should Be' was my favorite, was the one that resounded the loudest with me. And that is the fantastic thing about this novel, there is not a chance in hell that one of these tales won't mirror an exact emotion you've once felt, won't expose the truths about your most carnal desires. I couldn't help but place myself in every single setting, crawl inside the skin of the characters being forced to show their true selves. Man V. Nature was basic and complex human instinct, transformed into a piece of literature like I've never read before. I wanted there to be another story when I turned the last page, I wanted the author to keep telling me the things I deny about myself almost every single day.

This book changed me. I can't remember the last time I've felt like I could write that sentence with complete confidence. Every single person on this planet needs to own and read this book.

Read if you like:
Books by Chuck Palahniuk



Diane Cook’s fiction has been published or is forthcoming in Harper’s Magazine, Granta, Tin House, Zoetrope: All Story, Guernica, Salt Hill, and Redivider. Her nonfiction has appeared in the New York Times Magazine and on This American Life, where she worked as a radio producer for six years. She earned an MFA from Columbia University, where she was a Teaching fellow. She recently moved to Oakland, CA after a decade in Brooklyn.

Contact Links:
Twitter -  Goodreads


Thank-you to Trish from TLC Book Tours for hosting this tour, and to Harper for sending me a print copy to review! CLICK HERE to follow the rest of the tour.


  1. What a great word to choose "unstoppable": these stories really do have that feeling. I bet every reader would choose a different favourite, but they are certainly memorable, favourites or not.

    1. Thank you, I thought that word fit well too! I absolutely adored this book, and felt like it spurred a love for short stories that nothing before it has been able to do. I'm guessing you read it as well? I hope it did wonderful things to your emotions.


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