The stories in Merrill Feitell’s award-winning collection, Here Beneath Low-Flying Planes, examine the fleeting and unexpected moments of human connection, reminding us of the indelible impact we have on one another no matter how insignificant or anonymous we might feel under our huge, collective sky.
Feitell’s characters deal with shifting dynamics in relationships—whether they be best friends, lovers, family, or even strangers—that consistently leave them torn between two places or commitments. In the title story, Janie has undergone a painful childbirth experience and her group of friends must pioneer new dynamics while she wonders how to bring her old self back. In “Bike New York!” amid thirty thousand cyclists, a man on the brink of marriage meets a young girl who, in a tiny Brooklyn bakery, affirms both who he has been and who he is going to be. On this short detour from normal life he comes to understand “the funny thing about finding your way in the world. There was a place laid out for you . . . and even as you stepped into it, happy for the chance to rest, you wondered how you ever ended up there.”
Funny, big-hearted, and deft, Here Beneath Low-Flying Planes navigates the reader through the life that happens when you’re planning other things. It is a collection of experiences, roads not taken, and the intense and unforeseen sparks of connection we hope for.
“Rueful, bittersweet, funny, written with tenderness and bite, Merrill Feitell’s stories, like so many classic short stories, are made from the plain and painful stuff of this world, and haunted by the possibility, and the impossibility, of a better one.”—Michael Chabon
“This award-winning display is a saucy, vibrant collection, both timely and timeless. These stories never disappoint—they are funny, unpredictable, skillfully honed, and very moving. Merrill Feitell loves her characters even if they don’t love themselves, and that makes for a rich, impressive debut.”—Antonya Nelson, author of Female Trouble
“Merrill Feitell’s stories are keenly observant: they show us the almost invisible gestures people engage in at those moments when their emotions are about to seize up. She writes beautifully and unsentimentally about the kindness strangers can sometimes, and unexpectedly, show each other. This is a fine and wonderful collection.”—Charles Baxter
“Merrill Feitell’s charming stories nicely balance the longings of the single life with its triumphs. Her characters are a delight, and the pages resonate with humor, generosity, love, loss, and that elusive sense of the world truly spinning beneath our feet.”—Andrea Barrett, author of Ship Fever and Servants of the Map