The Cornelius Arms (MIssing Spoke Press) is a collection of 15 interrelated short stories about the residents of a low-rent apartment building in downtown Seattle just prior to the city's dot.com boom. The book's inhabitants include an aging tenant organizer, a Korean-American butterfly breeder, a Norwegian artist in exile from his past, an alcoholic Mormon woman, a pair of destitute junkies, a gang of skinheads plotting to assassinate the city's African American mayor, a middle-age gay man with HIV, and others trying to get by in a rapidly changing city. In the tradition of short story cycles such as Sherwood Anderson's Winesburg, Ohio and Stuart Dybek's The Coast of Chicago, the stories in The Cornelius Arms develop the themes of place and community through the process of accumulation and recursiveness—resulting in a compelling portrait of a unique moment in Seattle history.
Praise for The Cornelius Arms
"THIS IS FICTION TO REMIND YOU why you read: to see into the heart of human life.” — Thomas E Kennedy, author of In the Company of Angels, Beneath the Neon Egg, Unreal City, and other titles.
“DONAHUE'S STORIES INTRODUCE A GROUP OF TENANTS who, in their varied, decidedly non-affluent circumstances, define a pre-dot-com city on the verge of overwhelming change . . . These characters speak with distinct, memorable voices. Together, their voices thread together and ultimately define a specific time in Seattle . . . The Cornelius Arms stories deliver a cumulative effect that is quite powerful.”
— The Seattle Weekly
“DONAHUE INTRODUCES A KALEIDOSCROPE OF CHARACTERS and tone to give a rare, intimate view of tenants' lives . . . Donahue is an extraordinarily talented writer.” — The Birmingham News
“IN THE CORNELIUS ARMS, Peter Donahue has gone to the hidden heart of Seattle, a city that has become increasingly known for its writers. In The Cornelius Arms—an evocative collection of short stories centered around the tenants in an old apartment building—he has given readers a rare view of this city beneath its smug, prosperous façade. There are people in Seattle who struggle and often fail. Donahue’s prose is sometimes subtle, sometimes vivid, but always appropriate. He has brought his characters and their settings to life and has made them memorable. This is a lovely collection that will draw readings into his Seattle-centered world and keep them there.” — Peter Bacho, author of Dark Blue Suit and Other Stories and Cebu
“IN VIVID PROSE, Donahue maps the declining years of an apartment building by chronicling the lives of its differently marginalized residents—from neo-Nazis and drug addicts to Native Americans and the self-exiled elderly. Donahue’s The Cornelius Arms is a place where the down-and-out rub shoulders with the hip, the bitter, the persistent, the abandoned, the exiled, and the mad. A wonderful, illuminating portrait of both Seattle and of an unsanitized and peculiarly rich life.” — Brian Evenson, author of Fugue State, Father of Lies, The Open Curtain, and other titles
“AN ADDED ATTRACTION OF THESE GATHERED STORIES is the interesting employment of milieu (as indicated by the collection’s title) as a foci of the lives portrayed in the world of hard and hardening realities—contemporary Seattle—that the fictions constitute by a process of accumulation as one reads from story to story. I am put in mind of story collections as established in our tradition as Sherwood Anderson’s Winesburg, Ohio and Mark Costello’s Murphy Stories.” — Gordon Weaver author of Long Odds and Four Decades: New and Selected Stories