Anything You Recognize

Daniel Mueller

220 pages
$18.50 paperback

September 2023

A new cycle of stories from the acclaimed author of Nights I Dreamed of Hubert Humphrey and How Animals Mate.

ANYTHING YOU RECOGNIZE is the exuberant new collection from the acclaimed author of Nights I Dreamed of Hubert Humphrey and How Animals Mate. In Mueller’s latest, the central cycle of stories follows an upwardly mobile family navigating the late ‘60s in west Texas, with an adventurous young boy coming face to face with the era’s newly blurred lines around sex, race and family. From an inexhaustible storehouse of period details, Mueller sets the unbridled freedoms of bike-riding boyhood against the subtle and not-so-subtle pressures of newly liberated adults —and then adds several stories set years later, including a dreamy backpacker’s hilarious fantasies of his would-be girlfriend to scenes from a circle of aging gay artists, reminders of the ever-shifting boundaries we all still face.

The grateful recipient of fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, Massachusetts Cultural Council, Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, University of Virginia, Iowa Writers’ Workshop, and Sewanee Writers’ Conference, Daniel Mueller teaches on the creative writing faculties of the University of New Mexico, Low-Residency MFA Program at Queens University of Charlotte, and Tinker Mountain Writers’ Workshop.

“Dan Mueller’s ANYTHING YOU RECOGNIZE is the work of a mature writer at the height of considerable powers, whose subject is America.  What made me love this book was its pervading joyfulness.  Mueller doesn’t shy away from human suffering—neither the suffering his characters experience nor that they cause.  But even in their darkest moments—and there are several—an overtone of cosmic laughter rings in the background.  Mueller holds his people to account, but never ceases to extend them the humane and beautiful acceptance these stories offer us.” – David Payne, author of Barefoot to AvalonEarly from the Dance, and Ruin Creek

“These sexy, poignant, unpredictable stories explode quietly across the pages, shards ripping into the vulnerable, often dark, underbelly of the American Dream. I can’t stop thinking about these people. I feel like I’ve met them, grown up with them…and maybe been them.” – Tom Coash, international, award-winning playwright of Veils and Cry Havoc

“…heaps of praise for ANYTHING YOU RECOGNIZE and the startling ways in which its elegantly composed stories—funny and heart-breaking, innocent yet laced with menace—lay bare the yearnings and secrets of middle-class Americans. Dan Mueller may be the steeped-in-darkness nephew of Garrison Keillor.” – Elizabeth Evans, author of As Good As Dead, Carter Clay, and Suicide’s Girlfriend

“An artful and unflinching examination of life’s oft-obscured lines between convention and morality, human fragility and resilience. These 15 stories comprise a vivid portrait of childhood joys and dangers, young love, and mature loss, including the navigations of youth, boyhood, race, truth, and the relationships that ultimately define and then break us. With exquisite detail and prose to savor, ANYTHING YOU RECOGNIZE is a masterclass in the art of short fiction.” – NYT bestselling author Tosca Lee (Demon: A Memoir, Havah, Iscariot, The Progeny, and The Line Between)

“Never predictable, these stories trumpet the pleasures and troubles of adulthood, often encountered by a curious young boy who is both drawn to and repelled by the mysteries of desire, sexuality, morality, love, and heartbreak. The stunning sentences in Mueller’s ANYTHING YOU RECOGNIZE will guide you deftly into stories that end in a gut-punch, leaving you feeling surprised, raw, and awestruck, a greater understanding of the human experience having passed like a ghost before you.” – Kim Henderson, author of The Kind of Girl