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Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Between Here and the Yellow Sea by Nic Pizzolatto

Nic Pizzolatto, Between Here and the Yellow Sea
Grade: A

In my fledgling days here at Chapter 11 Books, I expressed to Joe Davich, Assistant Director of the Georgia Center for the Book, a need for a book that was, as I phrased it, “achingly good”. As such, he passed me a copy of Nic Pizolatto’s debut short story collection Between Here and the Yellow Sea. It takes a lot for a short story to reach me on both an intellectual and an emotional level--usually for me the format falls far short of satisfying. Pizolatto’s stories, however, ring with a bare and honest truth of emotion, the sort of emotional vignette usually reserved for authors much, much older (read as: dead). Although I, during my initial reading, actually at times attempted to put the book down and break away, I was continuously pulled back in until I’d devoured the entire thing in one sitting. The simple, elegantly composed prose stories all are thematically united through the common thread of modern society’s inability to truly connect with one another for very long, if at all (as Bret Easton Ellis once wrote, “people are afraid to merge”). From a story about BASE jumping to a few simple words on a woman competing for love with her sister’s ghost, Between Here and the Yellow Sea holds tightly to the ghostly, grey fog of memory clouded by perception. Pizzolatto makes a powerful, and possibly self-aware, statement when, in the titular story, he writes, " answer isn't the same thing as a solution, and a story is sometimes only an excuse".

If this is just the start of Pizzolatto’s career, I look forward with the utmost anticipation to what’s to come. This is one of the greatest things I’ve read this year.

--By Russ Marshalek (media/events/sales) (

Also Recommended: Julie Orringer, How To Breathe Underwater


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