In the stories that make up Together, Apart, the heroes aren’t very heroic. They are flawed. Failures. They are people figuring out how to grieve when their losses should feel more like relief: a teenage boy who loses the egg he was supposed to care for like a child, a mother whose son can’t find happiness in a strange book. But this collection is not just about failure—it’s about resilience. Ben Hoffman writes with unwavering compassion, from the many ex-wives of a recently deceased father to the brothers who listen to their parents fighting in a hotel, hoping instead to hear some sound, some sign of love. Put your ear to any of these stories and you’ll hear it.
“A fine combination of smart, funny, and moving, and of long and short work—I thought it had a lot of variety while still feeling cohesive as a chapbook. And it’s the one that I found myself continuously coming back to.”
—Matt Bell, judge of our 2012 contest and author of In the House upon the Dirt between the Lake and the Woods
“Ben Hoffman’s stories are fantastic, funny, feverish, and in love with language. The conclusions they reach are genuine ideas and they float into the reader’s mind so beautifully, so full of a certain kind of intelligent life.”
—Rebecca Lee, author of Bobcat
Heavy Feather Review: “Hoffman’s fiction is one of cruelty and trauma, loss and pain, desperate attempts at redemption. Neither heroes nor villains, his characters live in that purgatorial and immeasurably more believable space between good and bad, ecstatic and despondent. A space between ‘together’ and ‘apart.’”
The Master’s Review: “The prose is by turns funny and sad. The narrators are cynical, then kind. The characters are constantly grappling with the difference between their desires and the realities they are presented with. It is in this impossible, transitional space that Hoffman’s stories flourish.”