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Music Through the Floor: Stories

4.1 of 5 stars 4.10  ·  rating details  ·  344 ratings  ·  56 reviews
Includes a new story, "Body Language"!

Now in paperback, Eric Puchner's celebrated debut collection, a finalist for the New York Public Library's Young Lions Fiction Award, established him as one of our most brilliant and promising new literary voices.

Writing from an impressive range of perspectives -- men and women, children and adults, immigrants and tourists -- Puchn
Paperback, 240 pages
Published July 24th 2007 by Scribner (first published 2005)
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I think I'm drawn to short stories that have a melancholy slant. These stories fit the bill. It's an uneven collection, but there are some very good ones included. One of the best is one of the shortest: "Neon Tetras". In the span of the few pages of this story, a boy comes to an understanding of why his father is obsessed with the pet shop. Also, liked:
"Children of God" - in which an unfocused college graduate takes care of several mentally retarded adults in a group living situation.
"Animals D
Jan 27, 2008 Bill rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone
Recommended to Bill by: Andrea
I am somewhat chagrined to admit that it's taken me quite awhile to get around to reading this (even though I have been recommending it in various bookstore jobs I've had for several years now), but I am very glad that I did. A, and I, knew Eric from when we lived in San Francisco; and I always felt confident recommending his work based on conversations I had had with him. Now I know that those recommendations were well founded.

It is an incredibly well written collection of short fiction. Someti
Samantha Allen
These stories are incredible. Each one had a strikingly original plot and the perfect mix of humor and sadness. If I could write like anyone in the world, it might be Eric Puchner.
Apr 19, 2008 Kalie rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Take joy in the melancholy
Wow.. Amazing doesn't even begin to say it. I will read anything this man put's to paper. The improbable combination of being supremely depressing and inspiring, makes me yearn for more.
John Luiz
My first exposure to Eric Puchner was through his wonderful novel - Model Home: A Novel -- about a father struggling to keep his family together after career setbacks and one shocking family tragedy. That book made me want to go back and read his short-story collection, which I knew received considerable critical accolades when it came out in 2005. Now I know why. I enjoyed every story in this piece. They all offer compelling storylines about characters he gets you to care deeply about from the ...more
I usually prefer not to read a single-author short story collection straight through, but to intersperse it with other reading. Even with very good authors, I find that reading too many short stories back-to-back emphasizes repeating themes and devices. I find it often blunts the impact of individual stories.

Puchner’s Music Through the Floor is a short story collection that really doesn’t require this approach — the breadth of these nine stories is impressive. There’s something dark, in some cas
More accurately, I'd give this book three and a half stars. When it was on---in stories such as Legends and Animals Here Below---it was dead on, and Puchner uses humor that is heartbreaking and purposeful to get to the essence of his fragile characters without sacrificing them. However, a few of his stories, Mission and Diablo in particular, felt inauthentic in their attempts to tackle questions of social justice and politics, not only in their self-consciousness, but in voice and character as w ...more
My criteria for 5-star short story collections:

1) At least two stories must really dazzle me
2) I can at no point feel bored while reading any of the stories

The stories that most enchanted in me this collection were "Neon Tetra," "Animals Here Below," and best of all "Essay #3: Leda and the Swan." Puchner's stories all glimmer and shine, but these three were the best. None of them left me feeling indifferent or bored, which is gratifying. I would say that my least favorite tales involve immigrant
Fabulous writing. The color, texture, beauty and flow of Puchner's prose sticks with you. He masterfully delves into the human condition, often focusing on dysfunction and dark aspects that compel his stories in a way I have not read before. Excerpts from the book jacket are spot on:

"No blurb can do justice to this book. It is riotously funny and smart and beautiful, as nuanced and unpredictable as real life."


"Music Through the Floor. . .is delivered with singular wit, energy, and ecstasy
Man, the first story in this collection is wrenching as hell. It's very great. Then the second is hilarious, and but also touching. You're thinking oh man, this is going to be good. A Fresh New Voice for American Fiction. Then though, for like four stories in a row, things get kind of dull and flat. The writing is good, or else it's certainly not too shabby, but it's just flat. It doesn't grab you by the neck or the balls or anything, which, why not. Good writing should. Then he comes back towar ...more
Eric Puchner's nine stories featuring contemporary American urbanites makes for a fine debut. Everyday people portrayed through comic and tragic situations that so many readers can relate to, either personally or through someone they know. Animals Below Here gives a great perspective of a broken family through the child's eye. I felt Music showed great diversity with tales such as Diablo, featuring Ofelio the culturally displaced day laborer. At times, many of the characters will bring the reade ...more
LOVED this collection of short stories. Puchner does a great job of manipulating your emotions. I was even impressed with the order of the stories. Although each was VERY different you could feel the roller coaster he built for you and although I normally hate coasters, I was loving every twist and turn. He writes very well in both gender voices which was great to hear.

I will admit, this is not for the faint of heart. There is sex, drugs, violence, and heart break throughout the stories.

For the
Probably my favorite thing that I read in 2007.

There isn't anything too flashy going on here, just excellent short stories populated with genuine, multifaceted characters caught at moments that offer a deep understanding of them (often deeper than the understanding the characters have of themselves). Puncher does an amazing job of capturing the everyday complexities of people and their lives and giving everything just enough space to reveal itself in all its wonder, pain and humor. This is the
Loved it. As others have said, these stories are very well written, they are witty and ha-ha funny but also a little dark. There's a mood of sadness and loss--even grieving--underneath the light words of those sly, funny narrators. A really moving collection. If you don't know how I feel about Essay #3: Leda and the Swan yet, I say it again here: it's one of the best short stories ever! I read it the first time 2 years ago in an anthology and it stuck with me this whole time (usually I forget, I ...more
These are the kinds of short stories I love--about "ordinary" people, somehow made interesting by the writer. Many of these stories seem to involve people who have some sort of outsider status--a man who takes care of two mentally disabled men; a boy who turns on a friend to impress a group; a man who teaches English as a second language, and cannot always understand the complexities of the multi-cultural group he teaches. Puchner is excellent at using different and real voices to tell his stori ...more
Short stories by Eric Puchner are as good as his novels, even better because they make a more powerful impact just in a few pages. They can be funny, sad or tragic, depicting characters from all walks of life, but having something in common - desire to belong, to be understood and accepted. My favorite stories from this collection were "Child's Play", "A fear of invisible tribes", "Mission" and "Animals here below".
Eric Punchner debut book Music Through the Floor,is a amazing book. This book tells nine different stories, and somehow they all relate to each other in some kind of way. This is the the second book I read from him, after reading Model home. It is so much different,but I love Punchner writing style. There were some stories that I did not understand, but for the most part it was a neat and intriguing read.
This marks the first time I have read a book solely of short stories...that I can remember. The length of each was perfectly balanced; long enough to establish itself, but short enough to captivate you. I thoroughly enjoyed each and every piece, admiring the authors ability to take on many wildly different perspectives. By the end of the book I found myself disappointed there wasn't more.
First read one of the stories from this collection a few years ago, and thought it was the funniest thing I'd read, ever. Now out in paperback, I picked it up at Powell's a few weeks ago, and read all of the stories back to back. Although I still love Essay #3: Leda and the Swan, the one that really stood out to me was Child's Play. It's terrifying, in the most successful of ways.
Wow, what an amazing writer. I enjoyed some of the stories, others were disturbing. But his writing is stunning. I recently started writing short stories again after a hiatus of several years, and it's amazing how that changes how I read fiction. I kept reading a sentence and thinking, "how did he do that? I would have never thought to do that!". Original voice, very witty.
A collection of ten short stories that all show there's humor in the saddest situations, and tragedy in the best of times. My favorite is Essay #3: Leda and the Swan, a story written in the form of an English Lit assignment by a young woman in high school who has a more pressing need to work through her own problems than a Keats poem.
There were some definite gems in this collection, and the characters are endearing in their honesty. I enjoyed the wide range of perspectives displayed here and the unique plots of each story. The inner dialogue of the characters leave them raw and exposed to the reader. Although an enjoyable read, not particularly memorable.
There are some exceptional stories in this collection and there are some average stories, but each and every one is worth the read. I think the strongest are "Children of God, "Body Language," and "Mission." Overall, there is a darkness and a focus on the oddness of human behaviors that draws me to all of Puchner's stories.
"Music Through the Floor" was a collection I had looked forward to reading for some time, so I was surprised to find that I dreaded picking it up every night. All of the stories hung together well and the writing was very strong, but it was almost impossibly painful to witness things go terribly wrong again and again.
If you like character based short stories, you'll love this one. Also highly recommended is his novel, Model Home. He reminds me quite a bit of Brady Udall, so fans of his stuff will likely enjoy Puchner as well in my estimation. (Also finishing a novel by Puchner's wife that is also quite good so far.)

Michelle Barker
It's not often that a collection of short stories is brilliant right across the board but Puchner's collection really is. I was blown away by the elegance and effectiveness of his writing, as well as the range of his voice. Plus some of the stories are laugh-out-loud funny. Absolutely excellent. I plan to reread this.
Jacki Thomas
Amazing collection of diverse stories unified by a strong and original voice. Here you will meet characters seldom given space on the stage of literature -- and you will know them, care about them, and be moved by them. I've given this book as a gift to four others and counting ... loved it.
Full disclosure: Eric Puchner was my writing instructor at Stanford, which is why I picked up his book, but boy I'm glad I did. A great collection of short stories that made me appreciate the genre more. Each of these stories contain some uncomfortable slice of truth about life.
The author came to DePaul and read portions of his short stories out loud and they were hilarious! His collection of short stories are funny, warm and poignant. I usually don't enjoy short stories and prefer novels, but this collection engaged me from beginning to end.
A great collection of short stories that represent a variety of snippets of life from a variety of voices. Some of the endings are almost devestating. My favorite story was Essay #3: Leada and the Swan, although I found Mission (the last story) to be somewhat uplifting.
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Eric Puchner is the author of the novel Model Home (Scribner, 2010), which was a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award and won a California Book Award and a Barnes & Noble Discover Award (2nd place). It was also longlisted for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award. His debut short story collection, Music Through the Floor (Scribner, 2005), was a finalist for the NY Public Library's Young ...more
More about Eric Puchner...
Model Home The Best American Short Stories 2012 Glimmer Train Stories, #46 Bookstories

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“My heart was an onion making me cry.” 2 likes
“Afterward, she'd do yoga on the front lawn in the mizzling rain, lying on her back and then lifting herself slowly into an arch, like a demolition shown in reverse. The pose had mysterious names: Downward Dog, Sun Salute. Once I found her lying on the grass in a random-looking sprawl, the palms of her hands turned up to the drizzle.
"The Corpse," she explained later. "Feels wonderful.”
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