David’s second collection of short fiction, Into the Wilderness, winner of the Washington Writers’ Publishing House Fiction Prize, explores the powerful and complicated experience of parenthood from many angles: an eager-to-connect divorced father takes his kids to a Jewish-themed baseball game; a lesbian couple tries to decide whether their toddler son needs a man in his life; one young couple debates the idea of parenthood while another struggles with infertility; a reserved father uses an all-you-can-eat buffet to comfort his heartbroken son. But the backbone of the collection is Judith, who we follow through her challenging first weeks of motherhood, culminating in an intense and redemptive baby-naming ceremony. In the words of author Joan Leegant, “These stories are fearless, honest and true. They are also a joy to read.”
WANT TO GET YOUR OWN COPY?
You can order Into the Wilderness through your local bookstore, or get one online, at IndieBound (which sells you the book through your local independent bookstore), Powells, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Better World Books.
WANT TO CHECK IT OUT FIRST?
Here are a couple sample stories from the collection that have been published online:
“Jewish Day.” first published in the Antioch Review.
“Person of Interest.” first published in Ascent.
Are you part of a BOOK GROUP? Here are some Book Group Discussion Questions for Into the Wilderness. And HERE’S a blog post about David’s recent visit to a book group.
“This fiction focuses on the most important human relations, the ones central to our conceptions of who we are and what life is about. Ebenbach does this all while playing to his strength: using the small, the ordinary, the everyday to give little glimmering glimpses of the enormous, the extraordinary, and the startlingly true.”
-Eve Ottenberg, the Washington City Paper
“The souls of Judith’s story and each of Ebenbach’s stories about the wilderness of parenthood shine brightly in this lush, honest and beautifully written collection.”
-Karen Paul-Stern, CurrentMom
“These quiet and luminous tales linger. With charm, insight, and humor, Ebenbach reveals a deeper meaning to everyday events that by their very ordinariness rush by unnoticed, moments typically experienced without thought or examination.”
-Linda Morefield, the Washington Independent Review of Books
“Ebenbach’s characters are real and memorable, and readers will have no trouble identifying with their struggles. Ebenbach’s manuscript won the Washington Writers’ Publishing House Fiction Prize, and with good reason. Into the Wilderness is a delightful read.”
-Simone Ellin, Baltimore Jewish Times’ Insider
“[Ebenbach’s] gifts of perception and storytelling are anything but common. The stories in his book delve into the changes wrought by parenthood, an experience he explores from multiple angles like a photographer trying to capture an infinitely captivating subject…. Each story in Into the Wilderness is like a sharp-focus snapshot of a moment of parenting: sad, funny, perplexing, but always honest.”
-Stephanie Bedford, The Capital Times
“Ebenbach’s range is as varied and nuanced as the parental experience….Ebenbach’s empathy, of showing the complexity of his characters no matter how dark…give it an authenticity that transcend gender or parental roles into what is at heart what it means to be human. It’s as if the stories have always existed and we’re hearing about it now; they weren’t created by some guy, they happened to someone.”
-Robert Duffer, The Good Men Project
“All the stories of Into the Wilderness revolve around empathy and basic day-to-day human reality and struggle. It reminds us that we love to live but that it’s also hard to live.”
-John McGeary, Philadelphia Stories
“This undercurrent of human struggle is a constant reminder that, as with all people, ‘something dangerous’ may very well be ‘close at hand.’ Perhaps ironically, it’s his artful acknowledgment of these imperfections that makes Ebenbach’s prose shine.”
-Anne Pharr, Prime Number
“The prose is deceptively simple (a la Raymond Carver) and the stories are lovely and often heartbreaking.”
-Amanda Nelson, Book Riot
“The arrival of a child throws the various characters in Into the Wilderness into confusion. With delicacy and generosity, David Ebenbach follows as they try to find their uncertain ways, discovering that, whatever their ages, some reach parenthood before they’re ready to tackle adulthood.”
“For the very real people in David Ebenbach’s vivid and emotional stories, becoming a parent—as Judith, the single mother in four of the stories, says—is going ‘into the wilderness.’ A trip into the unknown, the primitive, the real. One single moment, the birth of a child, changes everything. It is the oldest human story and, in Ebenbach’s sure hands, the truest and most moving.”
-Jesse Lee Kercheval
“There’s a Yiddish proverb that says, ‘Small children disturb your sleep, big children, your life.’ Whether writing about accidental mothers or gay fathers, dewy-eyed newborns or huffy teenagers, unwitting grandparents or noncommittal thirty-somethings, David Ebenbach takes us deep into the heart of the messy confusion and terror and unfathomable love that make up that shaky state we call parenthood. These stories are fearless, honest and true. They are also a joy to read.”