Books by Stanley Elkin

THE MAGIC KINGDOM by Stanley Elkin
Released: Oct. 1, 2000

"Unfunny and unaffecting, difficult yet unrewarding: a novel seemingly modeled on some of William Gass' most iffy precepts—demonstrating that sometimes language-for-it's-own-sake has the power to kill meaning, interest, and emotion."
In The Living End, Elkin offered a caustic, hilarious, haunting triptych on the themes of mortality, life-after-death, and God's unabashed injustice. Read full book review >
MRS. TED BLISS by Stanley Elkin
Released: Sept. 7, 1995

"A fiendish and, by end, thoroughly engrossing life study."
An extremely vexing if entertaining novel about an 80-year-old Jewish widow, by the late master of obsessive dark humor (Van Gogh's Room at Aries, 1993, etc.). Read full book review >
Released: March 1, 1993

"All vehicles for Elkin's infectious delight in language, his ability to find a fresh way of looking at everything—from a take-out pizza to a Van Gogh painting—and his sense that life is more often than not a tragic joke."
From Elkin (The MacGuffin, Pieces of Soap, etc.), three novellas that limn with controlled passion and wry humor the anguish of disjointedness—of not quite catching "the beautiful ruin of the world and the other moving parts of vision." Read full book review >
PIECES OF SOAP by Stanley Elkin
Released: Feb. 1, 1992

"Bed-table sedative that amuses with hairpin turns and arabesques."
Twenty-nine high-wire acts that prove Elkin (The MacGuffin, 1991; The Rabbi of Lud, 1987, etc.) one of our zaniest acrobats of the acerb since Perelman. Read full book review >
THE MACGUFFIN by Stanley Elkin
Released: March 1, 1991

"Teeming with ideas and allusions, but cumulatively lifeless."
When the man in charge begins to feel out of control, Elkin (The Rabbi of Lud, 1987) has a situation tailormade for displaying his virtuosity—but this time around the humor, plot, and theme seem as tired and over the hill as the hero. Read full book review >
THE RABBI OF LUD by Stanley Elkin
Released: Oct. 14, 1987

"And while only a limited audience will appreciate all the layers of intensely allusive humor here, this is a bouncy, zestily outrageous comeback from The Magic Kingdom."
Though all of Elkin's work is saturated with Jewish-American, Yiddish-tinged rhythms, few of his novels are explicitly, centrally Jewish in character and theme. Read full book review >
EARLY ELKIN by Stanley Elkin
Released: July 1, 1985

"After all, there's life in this unpretentious little volume, a thread of melancholy woven into the drollery, and a few pieces of early Elkin for those who want to see what they're like, or to make their collection complete."
As the title suggests, this is a small handful of early pieces by Elkin (three short stories and a brief memoir-essay), including his very first published story, "A Sound of Distant Thunder," which appeared originally in Epoch magazine. Read full book review >
GEORGE MILLS by Stanley Elkin
Released: Oct. 25, 1982

"So, though this 488-page novel is a leaky collection of parts rather than one whole strong book (Elkin is a short-form writer no matter how he's packaged), connoisseurs of comic fiction will consider it required reading: a brilliant set of flags blowing the irrepressible wind of Elkin's fierce, bold comedy."
George Mills, who lives in St. Read full book review >
Released: Oct. 1, 1980

"But, if only for that superb Evanier story, it's a valuable item."
Stanley Elkin is this year's guest editor for the Best Stories—and, not surprisingly, the kinds of stories he likes are the kind he writes: longish, comically operatic, frequently about Jews or the momentarily possessed. Read full book review >
THE LIVING END by Stanley Elkin
Released: June 12, 1979

"Spotty, minor work, perhaps—but flash after flash of real brilliance."
God is a stand-up comic. Read full book review >
THE FRANCHISER by William H. Gass
Released: May 28, 1976

"The message, after all, is one that we all know and flinch at—America the Beautiful, Martinized, Simonized, Transistorized, Grand Unionized, and franchised to the lowest taste buds—those that you can euphemistically improve with Champagne Ripple at your nearest Baskin-Robbins."
Let's face it—Stanley Elkin writes variations of the same book which are essentially percussive hyperhypes like The Dick Gibson Show which is turned on briefly here. Read full book review >
Released: Oct. 19, 1973

"These are darkly hilarious tales about the encounter with the black void: a highly crafted intelligent book for intelligent, verbally attuned readers for whom the baroque is but a heightened way of approaching reality."
Three novellas by the marvelous black-comic author of Boswell, The Dick Gibson Show, and Criers and Kibitzers, Kibitzers and Criers. Read full book review >
Released: June 4, 1971

"Younger talents such as Leonard Michaels, Barton Midwood and Robert Coover are represented along with two older innovators — John Barth and Tillie Olsen — and other up and comers."
Mr. Elkin's brief preface doesn't leave much maneuvering room, but he does manage a quick limn of the genre, based let's say on the twin prongs of inspiration ("the brain's bum's rush") and a "learned" backlog of fictional assumptions. Read full book review >
Released: Feb. 19, 1970

"Like Boswell, like The Bad Man, it's a showcase presentation and something of an apocalyptic hype, more to be admired than actively enjoyed."
The Dick Gibson Show is a talk show with a very loud speaker, an obsessed, obliterating performance as the turntable turns and turns and attempts to fill the void. Read full book review >
A BAD MAN by Stanley Elkin
Released: Oct. 13, 1967

"Feldman represents not a man, but a good short story gone bad at novel length."
Elkin, whose Boswell (1964) heralded a major talent, continues to dazzle; he's got the wit, he's got the words, but he still lacks a story capable of attracting and holding a large audience. Read full book review >
Released: Jan. 11, 1965

"Watch Elkin."
Our most important novelists were and are important for their short stories, too-Fitzgerald, Faulkner, Hemingway, O'Hara, et al. Read full book review >