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Extended Audio Sample The Dangers of Proximal Alphabets, by Kathleen Alcott Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (258 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Kathleen Alcott Narrator: Carrington MacDuffie Publisher: Blackstone Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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Ida grew up with Jackson and James—where there was “I” there was a “J.” She can’t recall a time when she didn’t have them around, whether in their early days camping out in the boys’ room decorated with circus scenes or later as teenagers when they were drinking on rooftops. While the world outside saw them as neighbors and friends, to each other the three formed a family unit—two brothers and a sister—not drawn from blood but from a deep need to fill a void in their single-parent households. Theirs was a relationship of communication without speaking, of understanding without judgment, of intimacy without rules and limits.

But as the three mature and emotions become more complex, Ida and Jackson find themselves to be more than just siblings. When Jackson’s somnambulism produces violent outbursts and James is hospitalized, Ida is paralyzed by the events that threaten to shatter her family and put it beyond her reach.

Kathleen Alcott’s striking debut, The Dangers of Proximal Alphabets, is an emotional, deeply layered love story that explores the dynamics of family when it defies bloodlines and societal conventions.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “In fluid, bubbling prose, and with a good deal of plaintive humor, Ms. Alcott has written a beautiful story of love and heartbreak. Mirabile dictu—here is another joyously good first novel.”

    Wall Street Journal

  • “The initial sense of beauty and sweetness between [Ida and Jackson] is tempered by uncomfortable intensity and claustrophobia…and what emerges as a whole is an emotional narrative that is not easy or relatable but that sparks with convincing pain and nostalgia.”

    Publishers Weekly

  • The Dangers of Proximal Alphabets is a powerful and emotionally resonant novel that beautifully and with rare precision explores the magnetic danger of love. Alcott has found a language for the unsayable.”

    Peter Orner, author of the New York Times Notable Book Esther Stories

  • “The narrative…expertly interweaves Ida’s current reflections with her introspection about past events, some simple and innocent, others complex and appalling…All add dimension to each character and help establish the emotional depth of a well-told story. An accomplished debut.”

    Kirkus Reviews

  • “A wholly original and moving work, a nuanced consideration of the complicated ways in which we love and fail one another. A lovely and intelligent debut.”

    Emily St. John Mandel, award-winning author of The Lola Quartet

  • “To say I adored this book would be an understatement. I fell so hard into the wise, strange world Alcott creates for her characters that closing this book was like waking up from a dream I never wanted to end. A powerful debut from a writer I expect to see a lot more from.”

    Claire Bidwell Smith, author of The Rules of Inheritance

  • “Every once in a while a book comes along that you didn’t know you were missing until you found it. The Dangers of Proximal Alphabets is one of those books: dreamy and captivating, it nestles up inside of you, even as it tells you a devastating tale. What a wonderful debut for Kathleen Alcott.”

    Jami Attenberg, author of The Melting Season

  • The Danger of Proximal Alphabets is a novel as fugue state between childhood obsessions and adult behaviors. It exists in the gaps between memory and hope, between love and obligation. Reading it, you will at once be sixteen again, drinking a beer somewhere you shouldn’t, sure that the entire world lives inside your heart, beating three times as fast as it should.”

    Emma Straub, author of Laura Lamont’s Life in Pictures

  • “Disenchanted and creative, The Dangers of Proximal Alphabets is a surreal and thought-provoking debut.”

    Lonely Owl Books

Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Kaia | 2/19/2014

    " Poetic writing and interesting characters. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Tanya | 2/3/2014

    " This debut novel by Kathleen Alcott is evocative, dream like, and moving. I am inclined to like Alcott who grew up in Petaluma, lived in San Francisco and moved to Brooklyn (favorite places, all), and the characters and the setting of this novel are familiar and lovely. I look forward to seeing what Alcott does next. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Maureen | 1/12/2014

    " I loved the writing but the story fell flat. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 by Susan | 1/4/2014

    " A tedious and overwrought fictional biography about a young woman who was joined at the hip to the boy next door. "

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About the Author

Kathleen Alcott is the author of the novel The Dangers of Proximal Alphabets, which was translated into several languages. Her fiction, criticism, and essays appear in such publications as the Los Angeles Review of Books, the Coffin Factory, The Rumpus, ZYZZYVA, and elsewhere. Born in Northern California, she currently resides in Brooklyn.