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October 2004
192 pages  

6 x 9
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Bring Your Legs with You
Spencer, Darrell
Winner of the Drue Heinz Literature Prize, this set of interconnected stories center around a retired prize fighter living in Las Vegas. The characters are as unforgettable and intriguing as the dialogue.

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Darrell Spencer, a professor of creative writing at Ohio University, grew up in Las Vegas. He is the author of three previous books of short stories, including Caution: Men in Trees, cowinner of the 1998 Flannery O'Connor Award.
“Spencer lets his characters do the talking, anddd their dialogue is pitch-perfect. . . . go 12 rounds with this collection, and chances are its emotional wisdom will seem like sweet science.”—Orlando Sentinel, Sunday, Nov. 21, 2004

“Spencer’s descriptions of Las Vegas are haunting; it’s often hard to remember which time period to place the narrative in when it’s surrounded by such an idyllic and seldom-experienced side of the city.”—Pittsburgh, Feb. 2005

"Spencer possesses a remarkable ear for the cadence of everyday speech, as his characters circle and spar and contend with one another in the clinch of family and marriage, friendship and enmity. His depiction of Las Vegas is so fresh and affecting that I will never be able to visit the city again without seeing it, in part, through the lens of this collection."—Michael Chabon

"An introduction to the art of being a grown-up person in a slightly foolish world. . . . This is the best thing I've read in years-tough and sad, frivolous and deep, and full of words like little sharp rocks in your shoes when you still have a long way to walk." —Francois Camoin

"Darrell Spencer's world is right outside the window, but it isn't, friends, any world you know. Like Grace Paley and Raymond Carver, Spencer fashions stories out of a language all his own--a lot like English, but stranger and more surprising." —Bernard Cooper

“Part of the pleasure of reading this book is Spencer’s ability to render character, to reveal the speakers’ vulnerability behind their machismo and rough eduges. Readers are likely to be reduced by this book’s language--dialogue so hard-hitting you feel as if you might have toughed up just by reading it. But the emotional weight of the characters’ lives is what makes them so memorable. . . .The bewitchng language and poignancy of these characters remains long after the stories are over.”—Ohioana Quarterly

Complete Description Reviews
Drue Heinz Literature Prize
Fiction/Drue Heinz

A boxer who brings his legs with him comes to the ring with the strength and stamina to make it through every round of a tough fight. In this new collection, winner of the prestigious Drue Heinz Literature Prize, Darrell Spencer delivers fiction with just that kind of power. Bring Your Legs with You contains nine interconnected stories set in Las Vegas. Featuring various perspectives and narrators, they are filled with unforgettable characters, including Carl T. Plugg, a sharp-dressed, smooth-talking, non-hustling pool shark; Spinoza, the philosophical day laborer with “Department of Big Thoughts” lettered on the door of his pickup; Jacob, an arrogant lawyer who learns too late the dangers of swimming with the sharks; Gus, a man who has never seen his son fight despite his insatiable fascination with the sweet science; and Jane, a woman wary of her ex-husband, but still in love enough to share her bed with him. Above them all looms Tommy Rooke, retired prizefighter and self-employed roofer. Undefeated in the ring, Rooke walked away from boxing at the top of his game, to the confusion and consternation of his friends and family. As his father, former manager, and various other hangers-on encourage him to stage a comeback, Tommy moves through the gated communities and sun-blasted strip malls of Las Vegas, wrestling with personal choice, the caprices of fate, and the price the gods demand for our sins. More than a book about boxing, gambling, luck, and broken dreams, Bring Your Legs with You delves deeply into the life of its flawed but intelligent hero, a man deeply devoted to his friends but lost in a violent world. A writer unafraid to show the connections between people, Spencer delivers a hard-hitting collection filled with rich dialogue and spare prose.


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