In 2008, the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography was proud to kick off its new publishing program with the release of Ben Tanzer's Repetition Patterns, dark stories about childhood and twentysomething repercussions all set in a small town in upstate New York similar to the one where Tanzer grew up; and now CCLaP is equally proud to release part two of this story cycle, entitled So Different Now. Set in the same town where Repetition Patterns takes place, and sometimes featuring even the same characters from the first book, these stories instead mostly concern themselves with the issues facing these people as they enter middle-age, taking Tanzer's astute use of popular culture and his fondness for black plotlines to deliver a stunning meditation on aging, maturing, and the struggle to do the "right thing" in the face of sometimes not understanding what that even is. Sure to both delight and horrify in equal measures, these interconnected short pieces (nearly all of them originally published in various literary magazines in the three years leading up to this collection) easily have the capacity of getting under your skin in a deep and profound way, and you are guaranteed to remember their exquisite language and ambiguous morality for a long time to come.
"[A]midst all the fantasies of what could have been, or what should have been, the characters in these stories are left only with the realization that the present is reality. And it is in this realization--and the different way each character reacts to it--that these stories find their meaning, transcending off the page and touching your heart in a way made possible only by Tanzer's conversational and evocative style." --Curbside Splendor
"The characters are pretty powerful simply because they are believable....Tanzer just gives us what life has thrown at each character." --The Local Tourist
"Not expected. I've read Ben Tanzer before. I thought it was good, but it didn't 'wow' me. That's the thing with literary fiction. It's about nothing in particular.... So literary writers have to work extra hard and dig deeper into the human heart to offer their readers satisfaction.... SO DIFFERENT NOW left its imprint on me. Because that's what powerful stories do. They scar you and chip away at you, make you a different person." --Dead End Follies
"I am drawn to Tanzer's writing for the same reasons I enjoy getting a beer with him: there is a charm, in both his manner and his writing, which is simply entertaining, yet hints at a much more complex, sometimes dark, psychological underpinning. While reading this collection I continuously found myself lulled into the natural cadence of his writing, only to come to the end where I would find myself helplessly sitting in a pot of boiling water, unable to jump out." --Author Jason Fisk
"I've reviewed Ben's work over at my own blog before, and I remember saying that Ben makes writing, specifically the process of building a character arc, look way easier than it really is. His new collection of short stories shows that his already-impressive gifts for astute narrative observation have sharpened. It's infuriating. And you can't even hate him for it because he's so damn nice and helpful." --The Lit Pub
"[I]t'll knock you on your ass. Every story is poignant and ridiculously well written. Like Ray Carver, Tanzer knows how to show little pieces of our life that make us who we are and crush our expectations.... I'm hooked on this guy." --Mourning Goats
"Every story left me feeling intense emotions about the protagonist or his situation, weather it was victory, defeat, or a just plain, that totally sucks, and that's what Tanzer does. He can evoke an intense reaction in his reader in a mere flash fiction piece. All the characters yanked at my heart strings in one form or another, I felt sympathy for them no matter how confused or fallen they were." --Small Press Reviews
The electronic version of this book is being offered for free download to increase readership, although you're encouraged to make a voluntary payment through Paypal. To start the process, choose one of the options below:
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Want a paper copy of So Different Now? Then please consider purchasing The New York Stories, a special deluxe compendium of both this book and Tanzer's 2008 story collection with CCLaP, Repetition Patterns. This premier "fine art" publication, designed specifically for professional collectors and hardcore fans, features 30 illustrations by local artist Laura Szumowski (six in full color and inserted via special vellum sheets), held together with faux-suede covers and external Coptic stitching. Click here to learn more, and to see samples of the illustrations found within.
Supplemental and promotional material:
A podcast interview with the author, explaining more about how this book came out
Repetition Patterns, part one of this story cycle
This book has been released under a Creative Commons license (click the above icon to actually read it in full); this gives you permission to make unlimited copies for yourself, convert it into other formats, translate it into other languages, and use it as a basis for nonprofit multimedia projects (audio, film, animation, stage performance, calligraphy, etc), in return for you not changing the contents or removing the credits.
CCLaP is always on the lookout for great unsigned manuscripts. Click here for more on how to submit your own.