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Man V. Nature

really liked it 4.00  ·  Rating details ·  1,373 ratings  ·  229 reviews
A refreshingly imaginative, daring debut collection of stories which illuminates with audacious wit the complexity of human behavior, as seen through the lens of the natural world

Told with perfect rhythm and unyielding brutality, these stories expose unsuspecting men and women to the realities of nature, the primal instincts of man, and the dark humor and heartbreak of our
Hardcover, 257 pages
Published October 7th 2014 by Harper
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Gumble's Yard
Sep 27, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2020
I read this book after the author’s other full-length publication, her debut novel, “The New Wilderness” was shortlisted for the 2020 Booker Prize.

This book is a series of short stories inspired by nature documentaries. In interviews the author said “that's how a lot of the stories in Man v. Nature came about … Through thinking, reading, watching nature documentaries, or just observing the natural world. I'm mostly interested in how humans are still animalistic and whether we once had a wilder e
Haylea Huntsman
Jun 14, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
After hearing the enthusiasm from our Harper-Collins rep about this book of short stories, I snatched up an ARC and began reading it that day. I highly recommend it for anyone who likes short stories. While each story is unique, they all explore human behavior and examine how we interact with each other. This book is entertaining, moving, and at times a bit scary, considering what it can make you realize about yourself and the people you encounter. While reading several of the stories, I found m ...more
Feb 26, 2015 rated it really liked it
So this is where we are. George Saunders brought us here, and the short story in its popular form now exists in this place where our realistic emotions clash up against fantasy-interruptive forces derived from social anxiety. Ok. Diane Cook has built a bunch of worlds here that exist in the same space as our own with slightly grotesque differences. These stories are paranoid, brutal, hypersexual, and funny --- sometimes all of those things at once. She sets up rules quickly -- there's a man who ...more
Oct 04, 2014 rated it it was amazing
An astonishing collection that demands discussion. Grab some fellow bookworms who enjoy short stories, who enjoy a surreal read that is also grounded in reality, and who don't mind getting a little creeped out and uncomfortable ... because you are going to want to talk and talk about these stories. More of my thoughts on this title can be found on my blog at A Lovely Bookshelf on the Wall. ...more
Nov 09, 2014 rated it it was amazing
What a dark, crazy, sexy, uncomfortable, cool collection of stories! Reminded me of Bender, Link, and Millhauser, but at the same time, wholly original.
Annie Liontas
Apr 08, 2015 rated it it was amazing

I have been following Diane Cook since we published her in Salt Hill in 2012 as the winner of the Calvino Prize for her story “Somebody’s Baby,” wherein a man has been stealing village babies for years.

In full disclosure, I was lucky enough to do an interview with Diane for Fanzine and I asked her to send me some artifacts of her process. What she ultimately sent were photographs of beautiful landscapes and photographs of dead things. This is true. She sent me a picture of a severed deer hoof,
Jul 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I’m a big fan of alternate reality theories and endless existential possibilities they bring with them. I got the vibe of Black Mirror (TV show) from reading Man V. Nature and I was thoroughly lost in imaginations.

When we strip away all the social and cultural constructs, we are left with natural instincts. This book explores the world where such is the case. Get ready to be mentally disturbed and have your principles challenged cause you get to see what can happen when humans become indistingu
Doug H
Apr 04, 2015 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed every story in this collection, but my favorite was 'Meteorologist Dave Santana'. It's the most character-driven, the least dependent on "out there" twists, the most comic, and the most satisfying to read in the sense that main character shows realistic growth by the end. Most of the other stories are also good, especially if you like your fiction on the dystopic and/or surreal side. ...more
Joachim Stoop
Aug 28, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites
4,5 stars
Daniel Grear
Mar 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
My favorite books as of late have been story collections that are bound by ideas rather than characters or plot. Man V. Nature is an example of this. Though Diane Cook's writing didn't move me or elicit pleasure in the way that contemporary fiction often does, these apocalyptic and subtly horrific thought experiments should be admired for their incredible originality and quiet brutality. ...more
Sep 17, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: first-reads, fiction
The most visible thread in all the stories is how close to reality the humans act. Their selfishness, their rationalisations, their brutal nature in the face of all things. For that you could call this a peek into various psyches, but they're really all just our own.

It's a collection you'll want to keep picking up again, and putting down because you don't want to rush through it. You'll want to soak in each world and marvel at how horrible and desperate people are. And resilient they can be. The
Oct 27, 2014 rated it really liked it
Cook's theme here is, of course, man versus nature, but within this theme the stories themselves run the gamut from man literally versus nature to man versus human nature and everything in between! The interesting and unexpected thing about this collection is that most of the stories are set in post apocalyptic and even somewhat dystopian worlds. Worlds in which spouses are assigned rather than chosen and children are determined to be necessary or not. Worlds overcome by natural and unnatural fo ...more
B. Rule
May 25, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.75/5, but I'll round up. Cook has a assured handle on her prose, which she applies to a welter of stories that at first seem disparate, but quickly resolve into a pattern. Most are surrealist, some are acerbically funny, and all keep at least one eye trained on the brutal competition at the heart of man and the heart of nature. She has a penchant for stories that read like blood-soaked fairy tales or fables, where the symbolism or subtext bubbles just below the surface. Some of the stories hav ...more
3 parts Brothers Grimm + 2 parts Twlight zone + 1 part absurdist humour = 1 very happy reader.

I think this is the first time I've ever enjoyed every story in a short story collection. Highly recommended.
Anastasiya Mozgovaya
Sep 04, 2020 rated it really liked it
wow! one of the most bizarre books i have ever read. sometimes it made me feel uncomfortable, sometimes it thrilled me. if you are looking for short stories that will surprise you, this is it. what a captivating read!
Emily Sorrells
Dec 02, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: short-stories
omg. these stories are fabulous. a few duds, of course, but all worth it for that last story!
Jan 24, 2015 rated it really liked it
Loved the bolts of familiarity and dread in these surreal/speculative stories. Reminded me of Stephen King, favorably.
I have no idea how to rate this book. I found it to be maybe one of the crudest things I've ever read. And yet it's been over a week and I'm still thinking about the stories - going over them in my head, scouring over another layer of meaning, craving a re-read. But then I sat down to type out all the quotes and immediately wanted to never open it again.

"Homeless is a word of destitution.... We're not trod upon by soggy feet... But undeniably we are experiencing a lack. I respond, 'Friend, we ar
I've never really been a fan of short stories because they've not had time to captivate me enough to like the story however Diane Cook's Man V. Nature was something else.
It was one hell of a ride with the most far out and fantastical stories. I really believe that each story could be a basis for some very different Hollywood movies. I think I enjoyed the last story the most because I actually craved more of it and didn't want it to end. The rest were great too but were the right length, I didn't
Jun 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book is amazing! The description really intrigued me, but it didn’t prepare me for how well-written and brilliant it is. Each story is so unnervingly good! I didn’t think I would like the book so much because it’s not usually what I read, but Diane Cook is so good that even if it’s not your cup of tea, you’ll be hooked. It’s REALLY good. The stories are unique and they do tell you a lot about human nature. It’s very interesting. I am pleasantly surprised and in awe of this book, and I do re ...more
Pushkar Deshmukh
This book is the perfect example of how short stories should be written! All the stories are crisp and punch yuh in your gut. The stories are surreal, have got dream-like qualities. At times, I felt, if Diane has written these stories while living those in her dreams or what :)

All the stories are straight forward and brutal to the extremes. In simple words, those are all raw, raw plots, raw emotions, the conversations are honest. Some of the stories were a cultural shock to me.

All stories explo
Dec 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Super creepy, super smart, super interesting, super good. Highly recommend
Frederick Gault
Sep 07, 2020 rated it really liked it
A very gripping collection of creepy, what-if type stories that really get under you skin.
Ana-Maria Mihaylova
Jan 02, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites
A compelling set of dystopian short stories with stellar premises. While some of the pieces touched upon climate change, the main theme was Man V. Human Nature. A few of the stories felt somewhat underdeveloped to me, but I enjoyed the overall themes of motherhood, love, frienship and desire painted in their most animalistic aspect.
Jun 06, 2020 rated it really liked it
Wow. Unsettling. At times, funny. Beautiful writing. Some of the story themes get redundant but the ones that land are so good, so strange, and quietly menacing that Cook pulls it all together!
Reeka (BoundbyWords)
As seen on my blog:

BEST SHORT STORY COLLECTION I've read all year. I'm still fairly new to the genre of short story fiction, but I'm realizing that I've already become picky about the ones I'll agree to read. Man V. Nature has definitely set the standard for me. It was quirky, and dark, and completely raw with emotion. It was the first time, in perhaps EVER, that I welcomed ambiguity with such open arms. Short stories have a tendency to end on an annoyingly cryptic note, and for the life
Jan 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2015
Quick reflections on Diane Cook's MAN V. NATURE

1. DC has a wickedly sharp imagination. These stories are twisted and full of bent worlds and open oceans. Death is everywhere, natural. Dangers lurk in stairwells, underwater, in houses.

2. DC writes the sort of joke that I want to write: these dry, offhand remarks that are made even funnier by the macabre trappings of the stories.

3. A story like “It’s Coming” is gloriously violent without reveling in it. And its ending—its dismembering of synergist
Timons Esaias
Dec 27, 2015 rated it really liked it
I hadn't read Diane Cook before (though I see that the title story of this collection is in the Best American Short Stories 2015), but I was loaned this collection by a neighbor. I'm glad I did read this, as it reminded me that there is a market for mixed surreal-speculative-absurd-fabulist stories. I've been sitting on some projects that didn't have a clear market...

Anyway, Cook's imagination is both wicked and engaging. I'm thinking of her works as a combination of Kafka and Jane Austen, becau
Nov 24, 2016 rated it it was ok
This was a subpar collection. While a few of the stories had merit there were no blockbusters and several that just did not work.

Moving On is a story about a futuristic society in which people must be paired up in order to function in society. In this story a woman relates her experiences after her husband dies and she must go through the process of seeking a new mate.

The Way The End of Days Should be is narrated by a man, a successful man before whatever apocalyptic event has happened. He liv
Callum McLaughlin
Sep 20, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: short-stories
Definitely one of my favourite short story collections thus far, Cook has compiled a series of original stories that are each as interesting and enjoyable to read at face value as they are to examine further so we can draw parallels to our own world.

Some of my favourites include a story about a community who simply accept the strange old man who stalks their homes and snatches newborn babies; a story about a centre that prepares widows for remarriage; a story about a group of abandoned young boy
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Diane Cook is the author of the novel, THE NEW WILDERNESS, and the story collection, MAN V. NATURE, which was a finalist for the Guardian First Book Award, the Believer Book Award, and the Los Angeles Times Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction. Her writing has appeared in Harper's, Tin House, Granta, and other publications, and her stories have been included in the anthologies Best American Shor ...more

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