In fifteen beautifully wrought stories—ranging from occupied Czechoslovakia to California’s Central Valley to the rainforests of the Pacific Northwest—Mark Slouka explores moments in life when our back is to the wall. One of the most forceful American writers of his generation, Slouka captures the depth and emotional range of an array of characters—from a young boy attempting to shield his father from painful memories in "The Hare’s Mask" to a lonely man whose beloved dog inexplicably begins to sprout razor blades from her skin in "Dog."
Whether battling the end of desire, the fact of injustice, or death itself, the men and women in these stories are doing everything possible to tighten their grip on life. In "Crossing," a father hoping to compensate for his failures finds himself facing his past while fording a river with his young son on his back; in "Conception," a young couple frozen by the possible end of their marriage is offered an unexpected way back; in "Half-Life," a proud, aging shut-in finds her resolve tested by an extraordinary visitor determined to shatter her solitude.
Like its title, All That Is Left Is All That Matters consoles us with life’s tender humor and unexpected moments of redemption in the face of heartbreak, tragedy, and dislocation.
All That Is Left Is All That Matters (2018)
"The power in the memories [Slouka] so intensely evokes is heart stopping in its beauty, liberating in its acknowledgment of essential truths. . . . Put Slouka's work in the hands of fans of the Richards―Ford, Powers, and Russo―and watch what happens."
"The subtlety of these wonderful stories takes you by stealth. They leave you with the startled feeling that you’ve traveled a long distance and emerged in an unexpected new place. Mark Slouka is a writer of enormous and unusual gifts, and he offers them graciously and with an appealing wryness."
― Lynne Sharon Schwartz, author of Two-Part Inventions
"Few writers convey the urgencies of the heart like Mark Slouka does. Remorse, betrayal, fear, mortality―love, most of all―in these wondrous stories the most powerful emotions shine from the smallest details: the lonely creak of oarlocks, the silence of a man about to cry, the groan of a screen door opening a lifetime ago, the lies with which we console ourselves against inevitable loss."
― Andrew Foster Altschul, author of Lady Lazarus
Mark Slouka is one of the best American writers alive today, and the title of his new story collection is perfect: this is essential stuff, and it will break your heart."
― Brian Hall, author of Fall of Frost
"Mark Slouka perfectly breaks open my heart with each truthful, gorgeous sentence. I wish I could write out for you all the sentences and passages I underlined. But that would be the whole shebang, the whole damn book."
― Victoria Redel, author of Before Everything
"Crisp, poignant. . . . These are subtle, meditative, well-crafted stories, death-backed but life-affirming."
"Slouka showcases not merely his productivity and versatility, but his gift for creating consistently engaging and emotionally resonant stories in whatever literary form he chooses. . . . stories as tender and beautiful as these are among those things that might, paradoxically, serve to persuade thoughtful readers that life is worth living."
― Shelf Awareness
"Mark Slouka knows the secrets of story-making: the complex characters registered with the flick of a gesture, the catch-breath moments of collapsing certainty, the unerring recoil of memory―and in every line the razor’s edge, the frightful mortal implication. All That Is Left Is All That Matters is a perfectly titled and brilliantly written collection."
― Sven Birkerts, author of Changing the Subject: Art and Attention in the Internet Age