In the stories of Inappropriate Behavior, characters teeter on the brink of sanity—as those around them reach out in support, watch helplessly, or duck for cover.
Some of these characters come from the darkest recesses of American history. In one story, an innocent sets out on a transatlantic voyage aboard a freighter, only to find himself with a subversive, vaguely threatening bunkmate. In another, a student recognizable as John Hinckley Jr. writes hundreds of songs for Jodie Foster as he grows increasingly estranged from reality. Meanwhile, other characters are recognizable as contemporaries. A socially isolated young couple find themselves unable to resist their deviant sexual urges. A mid-level manager spots a man in a blue suit crawling across a parking lot from his office window. And in the deeply touching title story, a couple stretched to their limit after a layoff struggle to care for their emotionally unbalanced young son.
Set in cities across America and spanning the last half century, these stories draw a bead on our national identity, distilling our obsessions, our anxieties, our hauntings. By turns unsettling and hilarious, inscrutable yet illuminating, Inappropriate Behavior heralds the arrival of a meticulous, highly original voice in American fiction.
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Praise and Prizes
“Inappropriate Behavior is the best first collection I have read in years: darkly funny, thoughtful, heartwrenching, altogether brilliant. Its pleasures are both old-fashioned—riveting plots, beautiful language—and up-to-the-minute: nobody writes better than Murray Farish about the particular anxieties of our time in history. Conspirators, assassins, modern love, modern parenthood: this is a terrific, strange book.”
“Inappropriate Behavior is a collection of lovely surprises: the tartly fresh, felicitous phrase, followed by the astonishing plot turn, and then by the lightning-streaked illumination of character.”
“In these stories featuring conspiracy theorists, perverts, psychopaths, and out of control adolescents, Murray Farish plays with a stream of consciousness narration, sliding in and out of his characters’ deranged psyches. For all its darkness, this is a funny book. Farish sets out to prove that you don’t have to be an optimist to be happy, nor do you have to be successful to be interesting.”
“Set mostly in a South that straddles the landscape between strip malls and lush, green, almost tropical heat, Murray Farish captures modern America in all its crumbling, winning-obsessed, alienating glory. Inappropriate Behavior is a naughty, smart, comic, bereft, rich, seductive collection of truly modern American tales.”
“Murray Farish is a master at placing a twist right where we least expect it, yet crave it the most. He masterfully balances the absurd, the horrific, and the humorous in a blend that will satisfy a broad spectrum of readers.”