PUBLISHER’S WEEKLY: Barton impresses with his fresh voice and vibrant imagination.
ETERNAL NIGHT AT THE NATURE MUSEUM: Stories
(Sarabande Books, 2021)
Loss and rediscovery occupy the heart of this adventurous collection. The characters in Eternal Night at the Nature Museum find refuge in strange, repurposed spaces: a middle-aged addict emcees a demolition derby, which transforms into a hostel, then a cult; a church congregates in an abandoned Hardee’s; octogenarians escape their nursing home; unsupervised children sell knives to the neighborhood. In a contemporary America blemished with loneliness and late-capitalism, there is no end to the fractured places in which these characters find ‘home.’ In twenty vivid, rowdy, buoyant stories—ranging from one-page flashes to thirty-page odysseys—Barton assembles a collection of unforgettable safe havens perfect for crashing, even if only for a night.
KIRKUS: Funny, surprising, and disarmingly poignant stories that can appear laissez faire but are in fact, very finely crafted.
“Raucous, laugh out loud funny, explosively imaginative, every story in Eternal Night at the Nature Museum brims with heart. Barton’s prose shines with earth quaking sonics, sentences with teeth, and characters to love, revere, and always remember. This collection is an instant favorite, a wild ride from which I never wanted to depart.”
—T. Kira Madden, author of Long Live the Tribe of Fatherless Girls
“Startling, gritty, wistful, lonely, quick, sharp, hopeful, hopeful, hopeful. Yes, this is what you want to read.”
—Daniel Handler, author of Bottle Grove
“Eternal Night at the Nature Museum is a dizzying, brilliant collection, carried by Tyler Barton’s hypnotic ability to pull narratives into the strangest places, grounded by his genuine love and empathy for his characters, no matter how broken they might seem. There is such a precision in his writing, to let the wildness bend and twist the narrative without ever losing the heart of what makes these stories so special. To borrow from Barton’s own work, these are “painfully beautiful” stories, and I could not love them more.”
—Kevin Wilson, author of Nothing to See Here
“The twenty-one stories in Tyler Barton’s extraordinary Eternal Night at the Nature Museum take the reader on a drift through in-between places populated by people in search of more permanent homes. In busted cars and hotel elevators, underground shelters and single-wide trailers, museums and assisted living facilities, churches and stages, these idiosyncratic and aggrieved weirdos, lovably disgruntled, seek sanctuary and try to succeed at impossible tasks. They want to help (or be helped) but don’t know how (or how to ask). The humor and humanity with which Barton depicts his characters’ plights is nothing short of a delight, and his cracked wit shines on every page.”
—Kathleen Rooney, author of Cher Ami and Major Whittlesey and Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk
“A gem of a collection; fresh and special, full of heart. Fans of George Saunders and Gary Lutz will find a familiar.”
—Amelia Gray, author of Isadora
“In these terrific stories, I hear echoes of Chekhov (clear-eyed humility), Barthelme (wackiness that breaks your heart), and Cheever (American bewilderment). Mostly, though, what I hear is the voice of a winning and graceful young writer with a gift for narrative and an instinctive feel for the American landscape in all its tilted, hopeless, hopeful splendor and misery.”
—David Leavitt, author of Shelter in Place