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Dan Chaon Books In Order

Publication Order of Standalone Novels

You Remind Me of Me (2004) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Await Your Reply (2009) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Ill Will (2017) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Publication Order of Short Stories / Novellas

How We Escaped our Certain Fate (2014) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Little America (2014) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Dan Chaon is an American author that is best known for his short stories, though he has written quite a few novels. The easiest thing that could be said about Dan Chaon as an author is the fact that he writes fiction.

It is a difficult task categorizing Dan’s work in more specific terms than that.

+Biography

Dan Chaon was born in 1964. Adopted as a child, Chaon spent most of his earliest years in a small village outside of Sidney, Nebraska. Those people who do not know Dan well envision him as a pretty dark and demented individual, and that has something to do with the horrific nature of his stories.

Readers often speculate about Dan’s childhood and the events he might have encountered to drive him down such a brooding and gloomy literary path. The author’s father worked construction. His mother, on the other hand, stayed at home and didn’t work.

Dan will be the first to tell you that nothing overtly disturbing and demented happened during his childhood. He admits to being a nerd when he was a child. Even at a young age, Dan Chaon preferred to spend his time reading and writing creepy stories, this while kids his age went to parties and had sex.

And Dan wasn’t merely content with putting his stories on paper. Whenever the opportunity arose, the author would send his work to the New Yorker. He always used a pseudonym, though very little came of his earlier submissions.

No one really took him seriously, not until Dan encountered Reginald Gibbons. Gibbons was the editor of TriQuarterly, and Dan sent them a story when he was a junior. Gibbons, unlike so many other editors, actually made an effort to reach out to sixteen year old Dan Chaon.

Not only did Gibbons encourage Dan to keep writing, he also advised him to find his way to Northwestern. Over time, Gibbons’ advice bore fruit, with Dan Chaon’s first short story collection finally hitting the shelves via the Northwestern University Press.

Dan often cites Gibbons as one of the most important mentors in his life.

Dan has come a very long way since his earliest days, and he admits that he understands why some people might question his sanity when they read his work. Dan’s very first story chronicled a middle-aged man who lusted after his 12-year-old daughter.

Dan is happy that the story never drew much attention; there is no telling the negative attention it would have elicited from his high school psychologist.

Dan Chaon’s fans appreciate the fact that he writes about the darkest aspects of humanity. Dan’s motif has followed him since he was a child. The author always loved sad music.

Dan also seems to have an obsession with fate. His stories are very morbid in the way they represent fate and destiny as unstoppable forces that manipulate life indiscriminately, driving individuals down unavoidable and inescapable destinations.

Many of Dan’s stories spring from his own anxiety about life. Dan often wonders about the paths his life would have taken if, for instance, he had stayed with his biological parents or if he hadn’t taken certain classes in college. Would his life have changed in any drastic manner?

Would he have met his late wife or had their children? Questions like this are profound to Dan Chaon and they sometimes drive the direction of his storytelling. Dan Chaon’s work usually plays with the same themes, this including adoption, amputation and fires.

Dan doesn’t think that his obsession with these themes restricts him. He likes to speak of artists like Hitchcock and Dickens who kept going back to the same tropes and ideas. That did not stop them from scaling the heights of creativity.

Dan, who had two children with his wife Sheila Schwartz, also a writer, teaches at Oberlin College. For his efforts as a writer, Dan Chaon has taken home accolades like the O. Henry award and the Pushcart prize.

The author has also been awarded by The American Academy of Arts and letters, not to mention being a finalist for the National book Prize.

Dan has a very complicated approach to writing. He has been known to use a variety of tenses in his books, this along with cycling through all the points of view one can think of, giving his readers a very visceral exploration of the human mind.

Dan Chaon is definitely an acquired taste.

+Stay Awake

This is a series of haunting short stories that seek to expose the psychological frailties of human beings as they experience every emotion on the spectrum from love to loss and loneliness.

Dan Chaon explores scattered families and weary souls as his characters wander between ordinary life and a shadowy place.

It is books like this that get Dan Chaon associated with the word ‘Weird’. And the author’s work here is definitely on the strange side of things, though in this case, strange isn’t so bad.

The characters in these short stories leave readers feeling haunted and reflective. There is a reason why some people call this the best Dan Chaon book out there. Even the least impressive of the short stories stands out because of the wondrous nature of the world that the author creates.

To an extent, the life Dan describes in these short stories is pretty mundane. However, there appears to be something sinister hidden within each story, something that keeps audiences engaged as they dig for the truth.

+You Remind Me of Me

The first novel in Dan Chaon’s bibliography explores a number of disparate incidents, from a boy that suddenly disappears to a pregnant teen that tries to give her child up for adoption, and a young man that is awfully close to becoming a drug dealer.

While these incidents appear separate, something connects them. Dan reveals this connection even as he asks difficult questions about fate and identity.

This book doesn’t have the most positive of messages as it tries to suggest that everyone follows a predestined path and, once the die is cast, one can do little more than play their role as it was preordained.

Dan Chaon sets out to leave his readers disturbed and unsettled, and he succeeds.

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