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The Miniature Wife and Other Stories

3.60  ·  Rating details ·  1,164 ratings  ·  183 reviews
In the tradition of George Saunders and Aimee Bender, an exuberantly imagined debut that chronicles an ordinary world marked by unusual phenomena.

The eighteen stories of Manuel Gonzales’s exhilarating first book render the fantastic commonplace and the ordinary extraordinary, in prose that thrums with energy and shimmers with beauty. In “The Artist’s Voice” we meet one of
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published January 10th 2013 by Riverhead Books (first published January 1st 2013)
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3.60  · 
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 ·  1,164 ratings  ·  183 reviews

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Sean Kottke
Jan 19, 2013 rated it liked it
3 stars is a compromise score between a sizable handful of 4-5 star masterpieces and an accumulation of 1-2 star yawners. Like a lot of short story collections, there are some sublime entries here (the title story, "Pilot, Copilot, Writer," "Cash to a Killing," and "Life on Capra II" were among my favorites) and some that just left me cold (all of the "Meritorious Life" stories, "The Animal House," "The Disappearance of the Sebali Tribe," to name a few of the meh-est). All of the stories feature ...more
Jan 20, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: story-collection
A hijacked commercial airliner, stuck in a holding pattern, high above Dallas International, for….20 years. How the beleaguered passengers cope is a revelation. A man learns his best friend has just bought a beer-drinking unicorn, from a shady, Chinese street vendor and keeps it in a pen in his yard. These are just a couple of the wonderful, slightly bent, magically surreal stories in this collection. There are werewolves, clowns, zombies, hit men and yes, there is a miniature wife as well, whic ...more
Jan 13, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: short-stories
A largely unsatisfying collection, though with a few redeeming gems. In many of the stories Gonzales seems to have put all his effort into creating a startling situation for his characters without having a clear idea of what he wanted to do with them once they were there. A lot of set-up and disappointing follow-through. The stories I'll remember -- the ones that make the book worth bringing home from the library -- are "Life on Capra II" and "Pilot, Copilot, Writer." And the last in the book, " ...more
Jenny Shank
Jan 06, 2013 rated it really liked it

Zombies in the office and video game characters with souls add up to a clever story collection from an Austin writer.

The Miniature Wife and Other Stories
Manuel Gonzales
(Riverhead, $26.95)

By JENNY SHANK Special Contributor
Published: 04 January 2013 05:27 PM

The fantastical is commonplace in The Miniature Wife, the funny and clever debut story collection by Austin-based writer Manuel Gonzales.

A scientist returns from work to find his wife “shrunk to the heigh
Dec 12, 2012 rated it really liked it
I loved this book. Normally I find it difficult to get through short story collections, because every few pages you have to develop new relationships with new characters and plots, but with this book I did not have that issue. The stories were all different, set in different worlds, with a variety of fantastical and mundane elements, and I loved them all. I'm grateful that I could get this book through Goodreads giveaways. In some of the stories, I found the narrators repetitive in their speech ...more
Feb 04, 2013 rated it really liked it
Original, weird, funny, dark. What else do you want?

Okay, fine. The best stories in the bunch manage to be emotionally open ended, if that makes sense. You can't really describe how the story makes you feel and to attempt to describe it, you'd be describing the story. Capice?
Oct 30, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I just finished reading the stories in this amazing collection several hours ago, and they are still haunting me, tickling at the edges of my brain like the unholy tongue of a zombie (yes, two of the stories are about zombies). These stories were unsettling and disturbing at times, humorous and bizarre at others, but in all cases brilliantly written gems that look directly into the heart of what it means to be human. Each story seems innocent at first, but eventually things go horribly wrong, le ...more
Apr 10, 2013 rated it really liked it
Read some of the big spring collections, all of which seem to share a similar paranormal streak (Russell, Saunders, this, waiting for Jamie Quatro's from library). Saunders was my favorite, I think--added more human/humane depth to the addled teen-speak he does so well, though I have to say I adored the one where the guy works in a faux-medieval village where the workers get doped up with drugs to enable them to better perform their roles ("My Chivalric Fiasco"), only the Noble Knight ("KnightLy ...more
May 13, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: short-stories
I really wanted to like this. Gonzales is from Austin and works (worked?) with the Austin Bat Cave and seems like a good dude.

You'd be forgiven for slotting his stories beside George Saunders' and Karen Russell's as all three swim in the literary fantasist waters, but Gonzales' stories too rarely rise to the level of humanity that Saunders and Russell achieve in every effort. Saunders seems to say, "I want to write a story about workplace isolation" and then create a far-flung scenario to allow
Nov 30, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: arc
This is author Manuel Gonzales’ debut, a collection of short stories that probably belong in the category “new weird.” Each individual story contains anywhere between a speck and a load of the speculative. Taken both individually and as a collection, these stories are absurd and surreal.

My two favorites of this collection were Cash to a Killing because it made me laugh and Escape From the Mall because it really spoke to me about overcoming obstacles and finding hope when hope seems lost.

I felt
Dec 10, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I admit, I like some of the stories in this collection more than others, but stories as good as "Pilot, Copilot, Writer" and "The Miniature Wife" alone make this collection worth the rating I've given it as far as I'm concerned. Sometimes you just run across someone who has already done the exact sort of thing you are trying to write and it's an interesting feeling. I kept feeling torn between needing to get back to writing before he gets any further ahead of me and needing to keep reading. Eith ...more
Nov 04, 2012 rated it really liked it
Between each strange story in this bewitching collection, I had to pause before starting the next entry, just to ruminate on the things I just read. That, to me, is the mark of a good book: the kind that makes you stop and wonder at the things you've never thought before. I loved it, and I look forward to more from this talented author!
Mark Hartzer
Mar 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
At first, I was going to catagorize these stories as surrealistic, but that is not really true. I think if pressed, I would have to simply say that these are stories where the author makes a sharp left turn from where you THINK the story is going to go, and then proceeds accordingly.

Let's say you meet Willie Nelson at a party. You'd be exited to talk about his songs; or his tours; or the 'picnics'; or touring; or getting high; or just his musical ideas. Right? If you were Mr. Gonzales, we would
Daniel Sevitt
Apr 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: short-stories
I picked this up cheaply second hand because I've been waiting to buy The Regional Office is Under Attack! for the longest time. They sent me an uncorrected proof which I hate, but the stories are pretty good. I get the sense that the success of George Saunders has given loads of people licence to publish crazy shorts where weird shit occurs, but there's a genuine voice here and I'm still really looking forward to the novel.
Jun 05, 2019 rated it liked it
As with many short story collections there are some hits and misses. These are super creative and strange. Some of my faves included the hijacked plane circling Dallas for 20 years, and the unicorn, werewolf and zombies in the mall stories. Entertaining, quirky and a fine set of magical surrealism.

There were some bright spots and some clunkers. In general I was left a little bored and disappointed. Really exciting premises but I was let down by many of them.

Recommended for fans of magical surr
Jun 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
Manuel Gonzales' The Miniature Wife and Other Stories is a collection of magical realism short stories containing an overarching fascination with the supernatural and unusual in the everyday world. Gonzales voice is strange and clever; I enjoy his writing style and unique structures. I really enjoyed 'Pilot, Copilot, Writer,' 'The Miniature Wife,' 'The Sounds of Early Morning,' 'Life on Capra II,' and 'Farewell, Africa.'
Jeff Scott
Nov 27, 2012 rated it liked it
The stories center around a loss of self. Not necessarily an unravelling of a character, but aspects of that character disappear with surreal and bizarre reasons as the cause. A man on a hijacked plane that's been circling for 20 years wonders what will be left for the passengers if they land. Do they restart their old lives or start anew? A man who shrinks his wife contemplates what's missing in his life. His state becomes reduced, yet she gains beyond what he thought capable.

Most of the storie
Jennifer Koudelka
May 02, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: collection
Man I just.... did not feel this book at all. Reading brief descriptions of the short stories this collection seemed absolutely perfect for me. A man who accidentally shrinks his wife and has to keep his war with her hidden from everyone else? A plane that flies in circles around Dallas for 20 years? A couple who have to isolate themselves from the world because sounds cause them physical harm? ALL OF THESE STORIES SOUND GREAT. Unfortunately, although the author was excellent at coming up with s ...more
I won this book for free from the Goodread's First Reads giveaway.

If the website would allow, I would of rated this book a 3.5/5 (I liked it). I also rated each short story individually so I could average out an accurate rating.

Some of my favourite short stories were: "Escape from the Mall" (and I hate the zombie fad out there but I just loved this story), and "One-Horned & Wild-Eyed". Those two stories really held my interest from beginning to end. I also really enjoyed "Wolf!" and "The Dis
Mar 20, 2015 rated it really liked it
This book is a weird little collection of short stories. There are zombies, werewolves, and unicorns, and because of this I am surprised I liked it, because I generally don't like stories about any of these things. Often, I actively hate stories about these things.

I think I liked it because Gonzales doesn't attempt to explain any of the weird things that happen in the stories. Everything is written in a very straightforward manner. Things simply are what they are, and you accept it. For example
Oct 03, 2016 rated it it was ok
Some of these stories showed real potential. I’m thinking in particular of the ethereal one where sound causes physical damage to people, but children are somehow immune. There’s definitely some charming George Saunders whimsy in parts, especially in the zombie story. But with most of them I couldn’t help but feel that this is what Etgar Keret’s weird little gems would look like if they were allowed to maunder and drag on for too long. But whereas Keret splices in important details in appropriat ...more
Absolom J. Hagg
This rating has more to do with my feelings about absurdism (I'm not much of a fan of George Saunders, for Pete's sake. I know, what's wrong with me?). Basically, I think it works a lot better in small doses than in a collection. Every story in this book is interesting and technically proficient, but reading them all in a row seems to rob them of some of their power, at least for me. There's no doubt that Gonzales is a clever writer in command of his craft, and I really appreciated the ideas in ...more
Feb 16, 2013 rated it really liked it
Excellent collection of lively, intelligent short stories that deal with identities and transformation. My favorites were 'Cash to a Killing', 'Artist's Voice', 'Escape from the Mall' and 'All of me'. The author's use of dark humor and the paranormal is balanced with rapid paced tempo and every day dilemmas. 'Wolf!' was the only story that was a little too horror themed for me, but I do not generally read horror literature. I love that the author leaves space for the author to use their own inte ...more
Diane S ☔
Dec 15, 2012 rated it liked it
Although I can't say that I liked all the stories in this collection I did like several. Among my favorites was the title story "Miniature Wife" and the first story about a high-jacked airplane, as well as the Mall story which kept my interest all the way through. It is hard to describe these stories, the best I can come up with is it is like falling asleep and having a really out there dream and than waking up and thinking "Where did that come from?" That is what some of these were like, and on ...more
Feb 22, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read2013
The dream logic in some of these stories is incredibly potent; that Gonzales can also write in a dry, faux-magazine-profile style is also impressive. Further thoughts here:
Bryan Dunn
Nov 19, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Sure, I'm biased; he's been one of my best friends for years. Doesn't make it any less great.
Jan 24, 2014 rated it liked it
3.5 stars. Absurd, surreal, and a little hit-or-miss.
Sep 18, 2014 rated it really liked it
To pick up where we left off: Her body bent awkwardly over the desk, the soft gurgle escaping her lips.

I want to tell her, It wasn’t supposed to happen like this, you know.

I want to take her head in my lap. I want to smell her hair, smell her wrists. I want to kiss her neck.

I want to say to her soft, lovely things, whisper unyielding truths in her ear. I want to run my finger along the length of her nose, from the bridge to the tip, and then over and onto her lips.

I want to feel the warmth of he
Lisa Haneberg
Dec 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
I love this collection of stories. It's inventive, diverse, and surprising. And while I have no idea if Manuel Gonzales intended there to be a unifying theme for the book, the overwhelming sense I got was "every creature's true nature, manifested." I most enjoyed the first-person POV stories because the language was lyrical and fast moving. And the author knows how to use suspense and plot twists! I would've given this collection of short stories five stars - I appreciate the author's creativity ...more
Rich Farrell
There were some solid stories in here, although I didn’t quite find any that I could use with my freshmen, which is why I originally picked up the book. Either way, the stories captured my attention and imagination and was a good summer read.

The author makes allusions to or directly riffs on some classic stories putting his own voice and elements of magical realism into them, such as “The Miniature Wife” being near to Gulliver’s Travels, “The Animal House” a pairing with Beowulf, “One Horned and
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