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Other Electricities

4.05  ·  Rating details ·  341 ratings  ·  55 reviews
Meet “Yr Protagonist”: radio amateur, sometime vandal and “at times, perhaps the author” of Monson’s category-defying collection:

I know about phones. While our dad was upstairs broadcasting something to the world, and we were listening in, or trying to find his frequency and listen to his voice . . . we would give up and go out in the snow with a phone rigged with alligato
Paperback, 167 pages
Published May 1st 2005 by Sarabande Books
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Average rating 4.05  · 
Rating details
 ·  341 ratings  ·  55 reviews

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May 25, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Other Electricities is like no other book I’ve ever read. It’s not quite a novel, but it’s also not quite a short story collection. It’s somewhere in between – a group of essays and short stories that all interplay with each other; all create another piece of a grand novel. It’s a series that is bound by one theme – the lives of a small town shortly before and shortly after the death of a girl. Her accident – she and her prom date were drowned in a frozen lake after they attempted to drive on it ...more
M. Sarki
Apr 26, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: abandoned

If the pieces of the whole were mostly "luminous", were somehow made actual as in "galvanized", then the "scrambled"-ness of this editorial "experiment" may have proven to be more successful. Problem for me was I only believed one half of it and the "charge" was not as "sparkling" as it might (could) be.

I think the promise made by the Kentucky publisher, Sarabande Books, was a little beyond the pale when they claimed this work "...uncompromising and relentless, hypnotic
J. A.
Jan 03, 2009 rated it it was amazing
I probably missed the year when everyone was like 'holy shit this story collection from Ander Monson is on fire with goodness' but holy shit this story collection from Ander Monson is on fire with goodness. If you liked Matt Bell's How They Were Found or Ryan Call's The Weather Stations or any of James Chapman's books or any bit of anything you've ever read in Diagram or, in a different vein, if you care anything for literature that does with words what we haven't seen done as well before: read ...more
Lee Ann Johnson
Nov 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2020

Incredible group of linked short stories or novel about believable, full people in northern Michigan. Tragic lives with sad but not miserable stories.
May 21, 2008 rated it really liked it
This book is like "Winesburg, Ohio," with the characters scraped clean, like the story of the map at the beginning of that book. Anderson's book, like Monson's, attempts to piece together a community through "stories," but where Anderson focuses on the "life" of the small town, its people, Monson's theme is death, or absence of life, absence of people.

Which is not to say that Monson doesn't populate his fictions with characters, only that those characters make way for the harsh surroundings of M
Mar 26, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Linguists
Creative and powerful use of the written word to convey deep emotions and connections outside the typical realm of word choice and structure. Dark but meaningful relationships and means to deal with life in all it's absurdity. Sparse presentation, dense content. I loved it! ...more
Oct 27, 2011 rated it really liked it
OTHER ELECTRICITIES is a story collection crackling with light, heat, and—well—lots of snow and broken ice. It’s logical to assume that a story collection from the editor of DIAGRAM isn't likely to be any old story collection. The short answer is that it isn't.

I can see where a collection of this kind might be polarizing for many as its overall concept is a sprawling one, mixing solid short fiction with heavily stylized poetic elements, sometimes [de]generating [into] surreal lists of text or ab
Mar 09, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: People searching for a connection
It's been a really long time since I've read a book that has connected with me in a way that this book has. Maybe it's because I'm from a Michigan small town (albeit Lower Peninsula) and can recall, if not somewhat relate to the many characters in these series of seperate, yet intertwined stories. Ander Monson has definitely picked up a new fan and I can't wait to read more from him.

Added note:
I was finally able to see Ander Monson at the Printer's Row Book Fair after a couple of previously fail
Jan 12, 2010 rated it really liked it
One of the most unique books I've come across. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience of reading what reminded me of a diverse set of poems. Clearly the author is fascinated with words, structure and all things literary. I imagined him sitting with an image, a scene, a plot and transcribing in almost a free association way all the words that came to him without a filter. But that's not quite right either as he clearly put much careful construction into the book -- like chapters built entirely out o ...more
Mar 06, 2008 added it
I bought this in preparation for a trip to Michigan where I thought I might look up Ander, a friend of a friend. I had just bought a new bike helmet, but I was also *wearing* a helmet, and the two-helmet deal was almost too much for the bookstore clerk. "What, you're wearing *two* helmets now?" she asked. "Is that supposed to be *safer*?"

I went to Michigan, didn't manage to look up Ander, and failed to read the book until a few months later.

All of this is by way of putting off the moment of reck
Jan 26, 2011 rated it it was amazing
The cover declares Other Electricities "stories," but I think of it as a story cycle, or a novel in stories. What connects the stories is their location, which is not just a small town in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, but a small town in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan in midwinter: snow and ice fill the book, or empty it out, blank as empty pages, empty spaces, loss; lost girls and women, murdered or drowned by misadventure or simply gone away.

Full review at: http://coffeeandink.dreamwidth.o
Apr 15, 2008 rated it liked it
Monson's Other Electricities is collection of delicate and moving short stories, or rather "shorts" that piece together the life of a group of friends and families who are coping with death, love loss, boredom, malaise. The best story in this book remains the title piece, that to me seems the heart of the entire book. ...more
Aug 19, 2008 rated it really liked it
Monson has some great characters here and you've got to love the odd interconnections between characters. You get these weird kind of snapshots, collage-like, from the various characters lives. Monson does a good job connecting the reader to the characters' senses of loss. Oddly put together, but interesting nonetheless. ...more
Oct 04, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Monson's stunning stories move 'from a world of hard but sparse facts to a storyscape of soft, fulfilling fictions.' He writes with distinctive whimsy and obsesssion, earning moments of inevitable, surprising beauty. At the center of everything is the ‘radio amateur,’ a meditative youth in Michigan’s upper peninsula, whose father is withdrawn into a world of ham radio, whose mother has vanished, and whose older brother is armless and aphasiac. Around him gather stories of friends and town-folk t ...more
Apr 03, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: poets and midwesterners
this book of short stories/pieces left me verbally imprinted with loneliness and grief. don't read this if you are depressed. Monson is from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Funny, because I once had a long distance boyfriend who lived in this strange little town and I often took the greyhound up to visit him. Such a weird place! It is like being in some 1950's Finnish town and I love that the acronym for the university there is F U. I spent a year 2000 New Year's eve there, far away from techno ...more
Mar 11, 2012 rated it really liked it
I was very impressed with this book. I had never read anything like this before. The structure threw me off at times and made me feel frustrated because I didn't always understand what was going on and how the different characters were related to one another. I know I am going to have to read it again to get the full meaning behind it. While it says that it is a book of Stories, the stories really work together to form a novel. The use of Indexes, character guide, and table of contents really he ...more
Feb 28, 2008 rated it liked it
My favorite part of Other Electricites was the form--short stories told from differing perspectives and centered around the deaths in a Northern Michigan town. I found Monson's writing most interesting when it was at it's most poetic and his forms were more experimental. I truly liked the index of themes at the end.

I definitely felt the characters were always real and never being looked down on. My only criticism was that there are few light spots in the dark/wintery tone that permeates the stor
Eric Susak
Jul 21, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I think that every hopeful writer should read this. Ander Monson has crafted this so well that he can lay all the metaphors and motifs out for the reader and still make you think about each line you've just read.

The book is a collection of short stories, but they are all thread through the idea of distance between people--radio waves, snow, stars. The writing alone is beautiful, but the concepts and the cohesiveness is something that could be studied.

I know I'll reread this book (which I don't o
Valerie Valentine
Jan 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I loved the sense of place here. It's not just about death, this is a book about weather. So much snow. When you read about cold places when you are warm inside it creates a very cozy feeling. Because this author knows upper-midwestern things his dialogue was familiar and the topics were homey. Isle Royale, Lake Superior...he mentions Highway 41 going to the land of sausage and beer (WI).

read the rest of my review at
Mar 29, 2007 rated it really liked it
A series of interrelated, experimental short stories. The best stories in this collection (even though they are often bleak) make me excited about reading and living. There are several that are just alright and there are one or two things I thought he could have handled much better. I am probably a little more generous than others might be, but I give him a lot of credit for trying new things and because the good stories are that good.
Oct 16, 2008 rated it really liked it
Wow! What to say about this book...
Monson expertly transports the reader to the dark, icy, snowy world of upper Michigan. The several characters--and their reflection upon a girl who once fell through the ice and drowned--reveal who they are through the lens of this experience as well as a mysterious murder of another girl. It's a somewhat complex kaleidoscope of accounts, but absolutely worth every word and page.
Jan 03, 2009 rated it it was ok
I really wanted to like this. Ander Monson came to my writing class and showed us his website, which was awesome, and lectured, which was awesome, and this book was experimental and unique and interesting, which should be awesome.

But it ended up being so experimental that it wasn't engaging at all. I found it hard to stay focused. And I imagine it would be harder for a reader who is not a writer as well to appreciate it.
Elizabeth Mcnair
Feb 08, 2015 rated it it was ok
I got this book as I needed a book to read for a challenge that was published by an Indie Press-this was. This also intrigued me because it was about people who lived in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and my daughter has decided to go to college there. That being said-this book was extremely hard to follow. What I learned from this people is a lot of people die going through the ice in the winter. Hopefully my daughter will stay off the ice!
Mar 02, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Michiganders, people who like strange things
I loved this strange, inventive, beautiful collection of stories, halfway between poetry and insanity.

I love the lonely, fucked-up, snowy, magical setting of the UP. I love the radio schematics and diagrams. I especially love everything having to do with Liz, Carrie, and Yr Protagonist. There were a few stories I didn't love, but that doesn't dull my appreciation for the work as a whole.
Ander Monson's Other Electricities won our seventeenth annual John C. Zacharis First Book Award. The award honors the best debut book by a Ploughshares writer, alternating between poetry and fiction.

You can read the full announcement here:
Joe Sacksteder
Dec 04, 2012 rated it really liked it
There are several central traumas in this book - but one main one - and Monson uses various characters, frameworks, and genres to give different perspectives on the events. A picture of Midwestern desolation and love set in one of its most godforsaken, evacuated outposts, Michigan's upper peninsula. ...more
Feb 22, 2007 rated it really liked it
I need to re-read this one, to look at how it works too, like I'm doing with Austerlitz and did with Impossible Object. It's similar to Impossible Object, because it's seemingly made up of short stories, but they're actually part of one narrative, sort of splintered and seen from different angles. ...more
Shawn Aldridge
Dec 03, 2007 rated it liked it
First story is well worth a read by anyone.

The rest of the book is a bit more peculiar. It's filled with schematics, diagrams, and other odd structure devices. None are overly distracting, but might not be to everyone's taste.

Definitely, a unique voice in short stories.

Feb 15, 2009 added it
Shelves: novels
Poetry, novel, stories, investigation, meditation on the nature of place and currents... this is a wonderful book. Strange. Lyrical. Associative in vibe yet anchored by plot and relationships and place.
Nov 04, 2010 rated it it was amazing
I recently revisited this one and boy was it great. Lots of lovely imagery that makes me think of the kind of haunted world you make for yourself when you're young and alone and exploring the things and people around you. Satisfyingly midwestern in a really relatable way. ...more
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Ander Monson is the author of Vanishing Point; Neck Deep and Other Predicaments, winner of the Graywolf Press Nonfiction Prize; the novel Other Electricities; and the poetry collections Vacationland and The Available World. He lives and teaches in Arizona and edits the magazine DIAGRAM.

Although Ander is a proud graduate of Knox College, he also received advanced degrees from Iowa State and the Un

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