Aliens in the Prime of Their Lives

Aliens in the Prime of Their Lives

by Brad Watson


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Finalist for the 2011 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction: "Watson's talent is singular, truly awesome; [his stories] are infused with an uncanny beauty."—A. M. Homes

In this, his first collection of stories since his celebrated, award-winning Last Days of the Dog-Men, Brad Watson takes us even deeper into the riotous, appalling, and mournful oddity of human beings.

In prose so perfectly pitched as to suggest some celestial harmony, he writes about every kind of domestic discord: unruly or distant children, alienated spouses, domestic abuse, loneliness, death, divorce. In his masterful title novella, a freshly married teenaged couple are visited by an unusual pair of inmates from a nearby insane asylum—and find out exactly how mismatched they really are.

With exquisite tenderness, Watson relates the brutality of both nature and human nature. There’s no question about it. Brad Watson writes so well—with such an all-seeing, six-dimensional view of human hopes, inadequacies, and rare grace—that he must be an extraterrestrial.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780393338850
Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
Publication date: 03/14/2011
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 272
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.10(h) x 0.80(d)

About the Author

Brad Watson teaches creative writing at the University of Wyoming, Laramie. His first collection, Last Days of the Dog-Men, won the Sue Kauffman Award for First Fiction from the American Academy of Arts & Letters; his first novel, The Heaven of Mercury, was a finalist for the National Book Award, and his Aliens in the Prime of Their Lives was a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction.



Date of Birth:

July 24, 1955

Place of Birth:

Meridian, Mississippi


Meridian Junior College; B.A., Mississippi State University, 1978; M.F.A., University of Alabama, 1985

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Aliens in the Prime of Their Lives 3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 13 reviews.
jasonlf on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I read about three-quarters of the stories in this collection over the past year and as I don't plan to finish it, decided I would write a review now.The stories in the collection could most easily be characterized as modern southern gothic. Their subjects are deeply dysfunctional families in deeply dysfunctional situations and often in deep pain. I started it a year ago and some of them are quite memorable. My back almost hurts thinking back to the boy who jumped off his roof onto a rocking horse or some such. And in another story I read months ago, I can still see the nearly feral girl who walks around with her headphones. Or the story about a dead woman's body.Several of them were worth reading, but as one might follow from those descriptions, it did not feel to me like a collection that I, at least, wanted to read from beginning to end.
tdmatthews on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Brad Watson's roots in the South are apparent in this collection that has a decidedly gothic feel. Highlights for me included the short story Noon and the title novella. The female characters in Noon are rich with a very real, and at times subtly palpable, sadness. The title novella stuck me as It's a Wonderful Life meets Twilight Zone, and really was the stand-out of the collection. Other stories fell a bit flat. I was cheering for them, but the voices of the characters just didn't seem fully realized. It may have suffered a bit after my recent reading of Thomas Lynch's Apparitions and Late Ficiton, which also was quirky and dark, but with humor that resonated more with me. I look forward to more from Brad Watson.
spurnell on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed Aliens in the Prime of Their Lives. This quirky collection of stories held my interest and left me excited to read more from Brad Watson. The title novella was my favorite of the collection. After reading some of these reviews, this seems to be the dominant opinion. I'm always drawn to somewhat dark, odd tales so this collection suited me perfectly. I loaned it to a friend who prefers lighter fare and she was not impressed. So I think reactions to this book can run the gamut depending on whether or not you have an appreciation for the darker side of life. If you do, be sure to give Watson a read.
MelodyFeldman on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Brad Watson's quirky story collection captures the strange and sometimes disturbing side of domestic life. Each story has its own distinct voice and rhythm, from the three boys in "Vacuum" who attempt to cheer up their depressed mother, to the man in "Water Dog Good" who takes in his neice who has experience unspeakable horror at the hands of her brother and father, and to the title story where a young man and his reluctant wife lives change after a visit from two possible aliens. Watson's prose is lovely and while there are a few stories that are not as strong as others, the collection as a whole is beautiful and at times heartbreaking.
speakfreelynow on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book was glorious. The short fiction was all beautiful and indeed made me begin to feel as alienated as the characters whose lives we were peeping in on. And then boom, the title novella outdoes them all. Interesting, gorgeously written and bravely open-ended, Aliens In the Prime Of Their Lives will not let you down.
4daisies on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This collection of short stories is intriguing and disturbingly relatable but many left me wanting more. They would take you to the edge of an idea then just leave you there - neither grabbing you back to safety, nor pushing you over the cliff. I just wanted more. It did keep me involved until the end and I will certainly be looking for more of Brad Watson.
madhatter22 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The quirky, darkly humorous plots of Brad Watson's short stories offer a lot of promise, but are mostly disappointing. His writing is full of vivid descriptions and lyrical prose, but his interesting premises seem to go nowhere or fizzle out. He seems to succeed better when he has time to get going - his longer stories are more fulfilling, with the best piece being the title novella.If you're a fan of short stories and think "dark" and "strange" are positive adjectives, you'll find enough to like in this book despite it not living up to the potential it seems to have.
wordtron on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
a cross between raymond carver, richard ford and david lynch. each story takes a wonderfully unexpected, usually inspired weird/odd/brilliant turn. deft, moving characterizations. watson's is a world of great compassion amidst (comical) violence, where the boundaries between human, animal and otherworldly are blurred. a very unique american voice. thoroughly enjoyed.
Sean191 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This collection of short stories introduces a weird cast of characters contemplating ordinary events and seemingly ordinary characters involved in weird situations. Most of the stories are a hit. I did laugh out loud a few times, but it would be misleading to say the stories contained in this collection are light-hearted. They're humorous, but it's dark humor. I believe the book would likely appeal to a George Sauders audience, although to be honest, I think I might have enjoyed these more than stories from Saunders.
themockturtle on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The thread that linked this set of stories was that the author came across as trying too hard. Flannery O'Connor made it look easy, Brad Watson does not. The thing that stuck with me most after reading this book is how in the very first story, "Vacuum", the use of offensive language for the sake of atmosphere seemed cheap and gratuitous and that sense colored all the pieces that followed.
upstairsgirl on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Watson's stories live in a sort of American dreamland. They are beautiful and heartbreaking and hilarious.
blakefraina on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
"[T]he inexplicable everyday, the oddness of being, the senseless belonging to this and not that." This line, from the story "Alamo Plaza," seems to sum up the outlook of the disaffected characters in Brad Watson¿s Aliens in the Prime of Their Lives.I picked this book up thinking it would be similar to the quirky hipster tales of Kelly Link, Karen Russell or Aimee Bender, so I was surprised to find a collection that shared more in common with the subtle, disquieting stories of Raymond Carver. That being said, I suspect I'm one of the few people out there who doesn't really "get" Carver, so perhaps the comparison shouldn't be viewed as great praise coming from me.Watson¿s prose is spare and perfectly distilled to create a vague, low grade tension throughout each piece. There often seems to be something lurking just outside the margins, something unspoken and potentially appalling. Something that exists always just beyond the reader¿s peripheral vision. My favorite piece, "Terrible Argument," about the rapid disintegration of a marriage after one strange and violent episode, is told from the point of view of the couple¿s bewildered and melancholy dog. Another, "Fallen Nellie," relates the unfortunate history of the corpse of a young woman lying about ten feet from a hiking trail. The author focuses his lens on the minutiae of his character¿s lives, while the larger, and ostensibly more important issues, like racism, adultery, divorce, domestic violence, rape, incest, murder, serve as a backdrop or a by-product, kind of blurry and slightly surreal. This makes the experience of reading the stories more like scientific observation, as opposed to emotional engagement. I suspect this is the author¿s intent.But it¿s not all doom and gloom. Watson still manages to insert scattered moments of dry, offbeat humor. Particularly in "The Misses Moses," in which a would be renter is doted upon by two spinster sisters or the opener, "Vacuum," wherein all hell breaks loose when a depressed mother of three nearly falls for the charms of an opportunistic neighbor. Ultimately though, both tales end on a poignant note.I tend to shy away from contemporary short fiction, finding it more difficult to connect with than novel-length works. However, I approached Watson¿s work with an open mind and was rewarded with a collection that was both atmospheric and thought provoking.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago