For the Bookshelf: Man’s Companions

Book cover of "Man's Companions" by Joanna RuoccoMan’s Companions

By Joanna Ruocco

Tarpaulin Sky Press, 2010

For the characters in Man’s Companions — a collection of 31 linked short stories — the self is a degraded version of someone else. Fantasy is stymied by performance anxiety. Delayed gratification phones in a last-minute cancellation. At the heart of the book is the figure of the unwanted woman, a degraded version of man. Using language by turns digressive, obsessive, overblown, romantic, fickle and mundane, Man’s Companions manipulates feminine tropes and finds a kind of joyous liberty in its proliferation of thwarted affairs and awkward interludes. Man’s Companions “underscores absurdities in the human species,” according to Publisher’s Weekly, and “Ruocco’s understated humor and irony have a playful, experimental appeal.” Ruocco — a PhD candidate in DU’s creative writing program — also penned The Mothering Coven (Ellipsis Press, 2009), a novel about a coven of witches organizing a 100th birthday party for the group’s oldest member.

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