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Phone Rings

A shocking phone call in the first sentence sparks a soaring tour-de-force saga by two-time National Book Award nominee Stephen Dixon.

It is the tale of two brothers, years apart in age, who have become close late in life. But the freakish death of one at the book’s outset sends the other reeling into a shattered yet strangely exhilarating re-visitation of their lives together.

Phone Rings is the work of a master at the peak of his form: a beautiful overlapping of scenes both remembered and ongoing, told with tenderness and an antic, laugh-out-loud sense of humor. In Dixon’s inimitable mix of absorbing narrative, deceptively simple prose and waggishly innovative style, it becomes the sprawling chronicle of a large Jewish family in mid-century New York City, surviving three wars, the ’60s cultural revolution, marriages, divorces, births and deaths . . . is it all lost with the piercing sound of a ringing phone? Or is that the chance to realize the possibility of transcendence?

Stephen Dixon has long been considered the “secret master” of American fiction by great writers such as Jonathan Lethem. In this book, he may well have written his masterpiece.

STEPHEN DIXON is the author of 25 books of fiction, including the National Book Award-nominated novels Frog and Interstate. He wrote his first novel while working as a reporter in Washington, DC, but at the age of 26 he abandoned journalism for jobs that enabled him to concentrate on writing fiction—including tending bar and substitute teaching in public schools. Since then, his short fiction has won most of the major literary awards, including an O. Henry Award and a Pushcart Prize, and he is the recipient of honors from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He is now on the faculty of Johns Hopkins University.

“A hip Saul Bellow….”Publishers Weekly

Editors’ Choice New York Times Book Review