Books by Deborah Eisenberg

YOUR DUCK IS MY DUCK by Deborah Eisenberg
Released: Sept. 25, 2018

"These brilliant stories invoke the desire for something other than what you've been given, which applies to us as much as to Eisenberg's characters, whose distracted desperation can't help, in the end, but reflect our own."
A vivid mix of stories that pick up and expand on Eisenberg's (The Collected Stories of Deborah Eisenberg, 2010, etc.) signature concerns. Read full book review >
Released: Feb. 1, 2006

"Not quite equal to Eisenberg's All Around Atlantis (1997), but she's still the closest thing there is to an American Alice Munro. And this is one fine source for Woody Allen to mine for his next New York movie."
Complex relationships and troubling histories are skillfully telescoped in Eisenberg's new collection of six urbane, probing stories. Read full book review >
ALL AROUND ATLANTIS by Deborah Eisenberg
Released: Sept. 1, 1997

An impressive gathering of seven painstakingly wrought, ambitious stories by the critically acclaimed author of the collections Transactions in a Foreign Currency (1986) and Under the 82nd Airborne (1992). Eisenberg's stories typically explore unusually complex relationships among strongly realized characters who are often both inexorably drawn to—and hopelessly wrong for—one another. She has a flair for developing an initially simple story in unexpected directions, and something of (her exemplar?) Katherine Anne Porter's ability to bring a novel-like depth to the confines of her stories. One or two gathered here misfire—notably ``Rosie Gets a Soul,'' a sprawling tale about a screwed-up female painter's experiences with peers, lovers, art, and drugs: Eisenberg's heart doesn't seem to be in it. But there are several stunners, including the title story's ``imaginary conversation,'' which its unfulfilled middle-aged protagonist holds with the charismatic older man who had tutored her and, it appears, never noticed her; and ``The Girl Who Left Her Sock on the Floor,'' which traces with both irony and empathy its boarding-school protagonist's initiation into the facts of mortality, as well as of adult hypocrisy and folly. Another exploration of childhood, ``Mermaids,'' limns the fractious and contentious nature of an outwardly contented family through the eyes of its young daughter's schoolmate, who accompanies them on an eye-opening trip to New York City. And in the best of several stories set in, and redolent of, Mexico, the superb ``Someone to Talk To,'' Eisenberg reveals the rude political awakening of a pampered concert pianist in a series of ingeniously unfolding levels of emotion and meaning. Exceptional work from one of the contemporary masters. Read full book review >
Released: Nov. 1, 1995

Artist Jennifer Bartlett's series of 24 paintings, each corresponding to an hour of the day, are shown here in glorious reproductions with commentary by short-story writer Eisenberg (Under the 82nd Airborne, 1992, etc.). The scenes progress from 12 a.m. to 11 p.m., from nighttime horrors through waking, working, and playing. Midnight's somber gray palette gradually gives way to the pinks of dawn (Six a.m.), the clear yellow sunlight of midday (Twelve Noon), the deepening shadows of late afternoon (Five p.m., Six p.m.), and night's cerulean tones (Nine p.m., Ten p.m., Eleven p.m.). Although not terribly obtrusive, Eisenberg's straightforward, unscholarly analyses alongside the works add nothing to the volume; readers would do better to ignore them and form their own conclusions. Far more interesting are the conversations between Eisenberg and Bartlett in the back of the book, where the artist describes her inspirations, methods, and thoughts about each of the paintings. The explanation of the mathematical grids underlying each hour is especially enlightening. Read full book review >
Released: Feb. 1, 1992

Once more, as with her debut collection, Transactions in a Foreign Currency (1986), Eisenberg's range of interests and formal containers is very wide. Her stories take a while getting up to speed, but because there is so interesting a stylist behind them, we give them the time. Still, the problem, as with her first collection, is that the voice sometimes seems all that there is of substance. Two political stories, both about Central America—the title piece and ``Holy Week''—are finally thinned by the predictability of their old-hat premises: that an innocent abroad apprehends rottenness soon enough. Two stories, ``A Cautionary Tale'' and ``In The Station,'' are a bit too portentous about Manhattan flakiness (in the first) or about the vicious irresponsibility of the young bored rich (in the second). Eisenberg's social intelligence is more subtly flexed in ``The Robbery''—a dinner party at which prejudices and presumptions are imperceptibly dismantled; and the world of rich actors and coke- dealers gets an improbable and satisfying burnish in ``Presents.'' The book's most remarkable story, though, is the already anthologized ``The Custodian''—again innocence lost, but in a tale that suggests how cruelly manipulative of reality innocence itself may be. Eisenberg here gives up most of her gorgeous yet finally merely verbal mannerisms (``His voice was a graphitelike emollient, a granular medium in which the words spread out soothingly'') in favor of sustained mood-building that results in a story of finely shifting, nearly dreamlike amorality. In this story (though in no others here to this degree), Eisenberg exhibits her potential mastery. Read full book review >