Next book

AMONG THE MISSING

STORIES

A gem of a second collection from an immensely promising writer of unmistakably original—and distinctively...

Twelve new fictions, notable for their stylistic grace and captivating selection of incident, by the author of Fitting Ends (stories: 1995).

In imagining other lives we discover the gift of empathy, these tales suggest, yet dwelling too hard or too long on other people’s experiences may lead to erasure of the self. Indeed, Chaon’s characters often seem to be renewable variations of a single personality, inevitably egocentric and selfish, but he presents these traits as the curse of the hapless dreamer. Here, dreams do not waft up out of idle enchantments and lazy afternoons; they struggle forth, life rafts offering rescue to mauled and sinking adults, usually in their 30s, who recall the genesis of their dreaming in troubled childhoods. In the title story, a car bearing an entire family disappears near a lakeside summer cabin occupied by a boy and his mother; months later, the vehicle is discovered mysteriously intact at the bottom of the lake. This eerie incident teaches the boy about the final ineffability of his world and of his own family. In another fine piece, “I Demand to Know Where You Are Taking Me,” a woman’s brother-in-law, Wendell, is convicted of rape after her lawyer husband fails to successfully defend him. The couple agrees to store Wendell’s belongings until an appeal can be made, and the foul language of his parakeet, Wild Bill, prompts the wife’s doubt about Wendell’s innocence. The volume’s brilliant centerpiece, “Big Me,” involves Andy’s childhood spying on his neighbor, a man the child is convinced represents his future self. Andy makes notes on how to avoid becoming this distasteful man and is eventually caught snooping; the moment when the neighbor reads his life, inscribed in Andy’s notebook, as a foretelling of the boy’s is a breathtaking arrangement, a renewal of fiction’s special power. Chaon’s work is especially notable for his casually precise prose and deep intelligence for the resonant scene.

A gem of a second collection from an immensely promising writer of unmistakably original—and distinctively rewarding—literary gifts.

Pub Date: July 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-345-44162-1

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Ballantine

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2001

Categories:
Next book

THE THINGS THEY CARRIED

It's being called a novel, but it is more a hybrid: short-stories/essays/confessions about the Vietnam War—the subject that O'Brien reasonably comes back to with every book. Some of these stories/memoirs are very good in their starkness and factualness: the title piece, about what a foot soldier actually has on him (weights included) at any given time, lends a palpability that makes the emotional freight (fear, horror, guilt) correspond superbly. Maybe the most moving piece here is "On The Rainy River," about a draftee's ambivalence about going, and how he decided to go: "I would go to war—I would kill and maybe die—because I was embarrassed not to." But so much else is so structurally coy that real effects are muted and disadvantaged: O'Brien is writing a book more about earnestness than about war, and the peekaboos of this isn't really me but of course it truly is serve no true purpose. They make this an annoyingly arty book, hiding more than not behind Hemingwayesque time-signatures and puerile repetitions about war (and memory and everything else, for that matter) being hell and heaven both. A disappointment.

Pub Date: March 28, 1990

ISBN: 0618706410

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: Oct. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 1990

Categories:
Next book

THE COMPLETE STORIES

The thirty-one stories of the late Flannery O'Connor, collected for the first time. In addition to the nineteen stories gathered in her lifetime in Everything That Rises Must Converge (1965) and A Good Man is Hard to Find (1955) there are twelve previously published here and there. Flannery O'Connor's last story, "The Geranium," is a rewritten version of the first which appears here, submitted in 1947 for her master's thesis at the State University of Iowa.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1971

ISBN: 0374515360

Page Count: 555

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Oct. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1971

Categories:
Close Quickview