Guess and Check

Thaddeus Rutkowski

Guess and Check is not an ordinary memoir; instead, it is a creative look at the life of a biracial boy—later seen as a young man—who adjusts with difficulty to lessons learned from the behavior of his parents and the people around him. In his rural-America world, he is an observer of dysfunction. He doesn’t identify with either of his parents—his mother is Asian and his father is Caucasian—or most of the children he meets in school. He observes the addictive pattern of his artist father and the ”alien” behavior of his Confucian mother, but he doesn’t understand what he sees. At times he is bullied, at other times ignored, so he seeks a way out. In this series of short stories, we observe his outsider experience which doesn’t improve during his college years or his life as a young man. His quirky ideas about sex and relationships hold him back. Romantic situations usually devolve into obsessive-compulsive 'acting out.' Such insobriety leads him into dark, half-humorous encounters. Later, we see him as an employee for an unnamed company, where he feels anxiety that leads to surreal incidents, bordering between bad dreams and what might actually happen. Through the experiences of life, he eventually learns to get along with others, even love the people around him, though these feelings don’t come easily. As a first-time father, he observes the ”alien” behavior of his child; other times, he feels as if he’s sleepwalking. Yet through it all, his journey with his own family ends on a positive note.

“A stark, engrossing, Hemingway-esque portrait of a life spent in the   margins.”—Kirkus Reviews

“ . . . tough and funny and touching and harrowing.” —John Barth

"Guess and Check is spare, subtle and deadpan, Charles Simic married to Joyce Carol Oates. A beautifully constructed delicate narrative, a near dream of a book, a place ‘vulnerable to anyone who wants to break through the glass.’” —Terese Svoboda, author of Bohemian Girl

Guess and Check is a thought-provoking book, subtly nudging the reader to reflect how our choices shape our reality and lead us to our present selves.” —Mark Danowsky

“Rutkowski seems to have led a life with very little fear, and has always been open to all kinds of people, places and experiences. That’s what makes him such an admirable storyteller: He doesn’'t pull any punches; tales from his life are told in such a straightforward and honest manner manner that it’s impossible not to admire them.” —Angela Sloan

Thaddeus Rutkowski

Thaddeus Rutkowski grew up in central Pennsylvania. He is the author of the book Violent Outbursts (Spuyten Duyvil Publishing), Haywire (Starcherone Books / forthcoming from Blue Streak Press), Tetched (Behler Publications) and Roughhouse (Kaya Press). Haywire won the Members’ Choice Award, given by the Asian American Writers’ Workshop in New York. He teaches literature at Medgar Evers College in Brooklyn and fiction writing at the Writer’s Voice of the West Side YMCA in Manhattan, where he lives with his wife, Randi Hoffman, and their daughter, Shay. He received a fiction fellowship from the New York Foundation for the Arts.