Peter Rock

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Peter Rock

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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 is The Night Swimmers, which involves open water swimming, fatherhood, psychic photography and the use of isolation tanks as a means to inhabit the past. He is also the author of the novels 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 stories and freelance ...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…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: 3.53 · 6,293 ratings · 1,188 reviews · 17 distinct worksSimilar authors
My Abandonment

3.59 avg rating — 5,026 ratings — published 2009 — 24 editions
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The Shelter Cycle

3.06 avg rating — 369 ratings — published 2013 — 9 editions
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Klickitat

3.05 avg rating — 314 ratings — published 2016 — 2 editions
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The Night Swimmers

3.60 avg rating — 162 ratings — published 2019 — 3 editions
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The Bewildered

3.34 avg rating — 98 ratings — published 2005 — 7 editions
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This Is the Place

3.42 avg rating — 60 ratings — published 1997 — 2 editions
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The Unsettling

3.69 avg rating — 61 ratings — published 2006 — 8 editions
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Carnival Wolves

3.76 avg rating — 46 ratings — published 1998
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The Ambidextrist

3.30 avg rating — 57 ratings — published 2002 — 7 editions
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Spells: A Novel Within Phot...

4.28 avg rating — 18 ratings2 editions
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More books by Peter Rock…

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...
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Published on June 05, 2013 19:57

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Whoa this was a terrifying beauty. The background story itself is profoundly disturbing and fraught, but what is most impressive to me, here, is the narrative conception and control, the many voices and different dynamics, the way sympathies ebb and ...more
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This is such a brave book, and it's not afraid to be smart, either. Wow. I mean, read "On Owls" and then you're so in.
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The Night Swimmers by Peter Rock
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I loved writing this book! I hope it shows. For now I'll give it five stars, though that might change with time.
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Wild Game by Adrienne Brodeur
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Loved it. Malabar, the mother, is the most complicated character I've experienced in quite some time. Her actions are so hard to accept, yet the writing itself demonstrates the love of her daughter, and this draws the reader in, too. This storytellin ...more
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The Night Swimmers by Peter Rock
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I loved writing this book! I hope it shows. For now I'll give it five stars, though that might change with time.
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Carnival Wolves by Peter Rock
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The Ambidextrist by Peter Rock
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More of Peter's books…
“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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