In Middle Men, Stegner Fellow and New Yorker contributor Jim Gavin delivers a hilarious and panoramic vision of California, portraying a group of men, from young dreamers to old vets, as they make valiant forays into middle-class respectability. In “Play the Man” a high-school basketball player aspires to a college scholarship, in “Elephant Doors”, a production assistant on a game show moonlights as a stand-up comedian, and in the collection’s last story, the immensely moving “Costello”, a middle-aged plumbing supplies salesman comes to terms with the death of his wife. The men in Gavin’s stories all find themselves stuck somewhere in the middle, caught half way between their dreams and the often crushing reality of their lives.
A work of profound humanity that pairs moments of high comedy with searing truths about life’s missed opportunities, Middle Men brings to life a series of unforgettable characters learning what it means to love and work and be in the world as a man, and it offers our first look at a gifted writer who has just begun teaching us the tools of his trade.
"In Jim Gavin's debut story collection, his LA based characters aren't exactly living the Hollywood dream but are at least living near it. They eek out a living in barely affordable dwellings, eat at Del Taco, and spend way too much time on the freeway.
The first story concerns a better than average high school basketball player who senses the end of his athletic dreams but is perhaps on the cusp of something new. The last story features an empty nest widower nearing the end of his career as a plumbing rep. And in between you get a wide variety of west coast characters at unique points in their lives, somewhere in the middle of something, where most of us are or most of us have been.
In the story 'Bermuda,' a young man travels an awfully long way (to Bermuda) to obtain some sort of closure from a relationship that's fizzled out. In 'Bewildered Decisions in Times of Mercantile Terror,' Bobby ends up broke in a bar with a Beatles cover band and ends up going home with Ringo -- or a Ringo. My favorites are 'Middle Men' Parts I and II. If you've ever been in a job that you were ill suited for, and tried to gut it out anyway, then looked back upon the experience in either laughter or tears, then these are the stories for you.
It was a refreshing experience to be reading short stories again, in which an author ends up saying so much in so few words. I believe fiction lovers will really enjoy this new collection of stories."