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Peter Rock

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Peter Rock

Goodreads Author


Born
in Salt Lake City, Utah, The United States
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Member Since
March 2007


Peter Rock was born and raised in Salt Lake City. His most recent novel, Passersthrough, involves a murder house, a fax machine, communications between the living and the dead, and a mountain lake that moves from place to place. He is also the author of the novels The Night Swimmers, SPELLS, Klickitat, The Shelter Cycle, My Abandonment, The Bewildered, The Ambidextrist, Carnival Wolves and This Is the Place, as well as a story collection, The Unsettling. Rock attended Deep Springs College, received a BA in English from Yale University, and held a Wallace Stegner Fellowship at Stanford University. He has taught fiction at the University of Pennsylvania, Yale, Deep Springs College, and in the MFA program at San Francisco State University. His ...more

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Peter Rock I found myself in a very uncanny moment, and I reacted to it.

This is actually a scene that is accounted for in the novel: Five or six years ago in Wi…more
I found myself in a very uncanny moment, and I reacted to it.

This is actually a scene that is accounted for in the novel: Five or six years ago in Wisconsin, I was looking for something, both daughters in tow, and we went into the Red Cabin, an old 10 x 15 foot shack where I used to sleep. Once inside, I found myself surrounded by the artifacts of my life, twenty years before. An old bicycle, pieces of windsurfers, a Montana license plate from a favorite truck, but especially remnants of my attempts to be a writer. The old desk where I tried to write stories and, on the walls, personal but discouraging rejections from C. Michael Curtis at The Atlantic and Lois Rosenthal at Story, quotations from Camus (“It is only in order to shine sooner that that the author refuses to rewrite. Despicable. Begin again.”) and Hemingway, a photocopy of a picture of a handless blind boy reading Braille with his lips.

It was a pathetic tableau, an atmosphere of self-serious loneliness still lingering. I was fascinated and embarrassed at the same time. Also bewildered. I mean, there was no good evidence in those artifacts that my pursuits were anything but pretentious and delusional, that they might lead anywhere. And yet here I was, all this time later, having published books, being a kind of professor and—more surprisingly—having a family, these excellent daughters. It was uncomfortable to feel connected to that person, difficult to understand there being a continuity between him and me. I was standing there just staring at these pieces of my past in disbelief while my girls were shouting impatiently at me to do what they wanted me to do.

In my writing, I’ve come to understand “inspiration” as a reaction to something outside of me, something that I don’t understand but that fascinates me. (I tell my students, “If there’s something that you don’t know much about but that seems to be calling you, it’s because there’s something inside of you that is resonating with it—it’s your job to explore this connection.”) This goes back to my days as a museum security guard, where I passed time trying to make up stories for all the art works in my care. And then reacting, in books I’ve written, to a newspaper story of a father and daughter living in the wilderness, or the history and beliefs of an apocalyptic church in Montana.

This time the mysteries I was reacting to were once inside me, very close to me. So the questions of “What happened?” and “Why?” and “What was wrong with me?” all rose up. And I decided to look into that time, and the pieces of it that were available to me, and to see what possibilities would present themselves, and what I would do.

Because really the goal in all of this is to have something come out of me—in words—that I don’t expect, that surprises me.

I try not to start out with ideas or intentions.
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Average rating: 3.5 · 9,228 ratings · 1,671 reviews · 23 distinct worksSimilar authors
My Abandonment

3.57 avg rating — 7,033 ratings — published 2009 — 29 editions
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Klickitat

3.10 avg rating — 604 ratings — published 2016 — 6 editions
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The Night Swimmers

3.41 avg rating — 476 ratings — published 2019 — 10 editions
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The Shelter Cycle

3.06 avg rating — 401 ratings — published 2013 — 10 editions
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Passersthrough

3.10 avg rating — 260 ratings7 editions
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The Bewildered

3.36 avg rating — 101 ratings — published 2005 — 8 editions
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The Unsettling

3.70 avg rating — 66 ratings — published 2006 — 9 editions
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This Is the Place

3.39 avg rating — 64 ratings — published 1997 — 2 editions
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The Ambidextrist

3.32 avg rating — 59 ratings — published 2002 — 8 editions
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Carnival Wolves

3.77 avg rating — 48 ratings — published 1998
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More about Diane Williams

Friends! A brief respite from my half-assed self-promotion; when I was writing a review of VICKY SWANKY IS A BEAUTY by Diane Williams, I remembered this tiny essay I wrote about a sentence of hers that has long bedeviled me:

http://www.tinhouse.com/blog/9325/the... Read more of this blog post »
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Published on June 05, 2013 19:57

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Split Tooth by Tanya Tagaq
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This is one of my favorite books--the drift from memoir into poetry and further escalations beyond consensual realities is like nothing else. I read it often and also love listening to the audiobook (Tagaq's throat-singing between sections is perfect ...more
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The Magical Language of Others by E.J. Koh
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"Some believe that if we're not smart like your mother and brother, we can't accomplish things. But we can if we are: one, funny, and two, humble." ...more
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The Anchored World by Jasmine Sawers
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"After you left, a goat took up residence in the left ventricle of my heart." ...more
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Bliss Montage by Ling  Ma
Bliss Montage
by Ling Ma (Goodreads Author)
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The whole thing is gold. The stories in the heart of it got me the most. "Returning" is a wonder of world-building and narrative-braiding. My favorites are maybe "G" and "Office Hours" ("He was both an involved mentor who frequently solicited her opi ...more
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Severance by Ling  Ma
Severance
by Ling Ma (Goodreads Author)
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So fine. Not sure why it took me this long.

“Memories beget memories. Shen Fever being a disease of remembering, the fevered are trapped indefinitely in their memories. But what is the difference between the fevered and us? Because I remember too, I r
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The Hour of the Star by Clarice Lispector
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“Make no mistake, I only achieve simplicity with enormous effort.”

“Forgive me but I’m going to keep talking about me who am unknown to myself, and as I write I’m a bit surprised because I discover I have a destiny. Who hasn’t ever wondered: am I
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The Cafeteria in the Evening and a Pool in the Rain by Yōko Ogawa
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This is currently my favorite story in the world.

“Do I absolutely have to answer? I’m not sure I see any link between you and me and your question. I’m here, you’re there, and the question is floating between us—and I don’t see any reason to change a
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Checkout 19 by Claire-Louise Bennett
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A gymnast.
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The Book of Goose by Yiyun Li
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“Life is most difficult for those who know what they want and also know what makes it impossible for them to get what they want. Life is still difficult, but less so, for those who know what they want but have not realized that they will never get it ...more
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Stay True by Hua Hsu
Stay True
by Hua Hsu (Goodreads Author)
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Quotes by Peter Rock  (?)
Quotes are added by the Goodreads community and are not verified by Goodreads. (Learn more)

“It is important to always remember that at any time you think of it there are people being kept in buildings when they want to go outside.”
Peter Rock, My Abandonment

“Every problem I have comes from believing something to be true that is not true.”
Peter Rock, My Abandonment

“If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, he will meet with success unexpected in common hours. He will pass an invisible boundary. Don't forget this. Don't forget that thinking can get in the way. Forget the forgetting. We seek to forget ourselves, to be surprised and to do something without knowing how or why. The way of life is wonderful. It is by abandonment.”
Peter Rock, My Abandonment

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message 1: by Carla

Carla Golian Thanks for the friendship :)


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