Although Mozzi’s style is crisp and straightforward, the stories themselves are beautifully nuanced and elliptical.

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THIS IS THE GARDEN

Eight elegantly translated short stories—cryptic, wry and witty.

Mozzi tends to focus on the outré and is masterful at creating individuals in isolation. “Cover Letter,” the first story in the collection, is a love letter of sorts from a professional purse-snatcher to a woman who was a victim of his predations. He lingers over the contents, speculating about her life and loves, and evokes her presence from the artifacts he finds in the purse. By turns apologetic, proud, empathetic and confessional, he quotes to her from two letters he’s found in her purse and speculates about their significance in her life before he sends them back to her. The next story is “The Apprentice,” a long story about an apprentice in a shop who tries to work his way up from messenger boy to skilled laborer, though he’s subject to the vagaries of office politics and nepotism. “Claw” is a story about Yanez, a recluse in a small village who’s visited every day for over 20 years by the only woman who seems to care about his existence. One day, an Englishman, self-described as a “saint,” comes to “save [the villagers’] souls from certain death...if they refused his help,” and his plea is intriguing enough to lure Yanez out of the house he’s scarcely left for years. “Tana,” one of Mozzi’s most cryptic stories, concerns a woman who comes across an angel, complete with wings, and this angel inadvertently (and ironically) helps her overcome her aversion to sexuality.

Although Mozzi’s style is crisp and straightforward, the stories themselves are beautifully nuanced and elliptical.

Pub Date: Jan. 21, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-934824-75-7

Page Count: 130

Publisher: Open Letter

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2013

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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

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Visionary speculative stories that will change the way readers see themselves and the world around them: This book delivers...

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EXHALATION

Exploring humankind's place in the universe and the nature of humanity, many of the stories in this stellar collection focus on how technological advances can impact humanity’s evolutionary journey.

Chiang's (Stories of Your Life and Others, 2002) second collection begins with an instant classic, “The Merchant and the Alchemist’s Gate,” which won Hugo and Nebula awards for Best Novelette in 2008. A time-travel fantasy set largely in ancient Baghdad, the story follows fabric merchant Fuwaad ibn Abbas after he meets an alchemist who has crafted what is essentially a time portal. After hearing life-changing stories about others who have used the portal, he decides to go back in time to try to right a terrible wrong—and realizes, too late, that nothing can erase the past. Other standout selections include “The Lifecycle of Software Objects,” a story about a software tester who, over the course of a decade, struggles to keep a sentient digital entity alive; “The Great Silence,” which brilliantly questions the theory that humankind is the only intelligent race in the universe; and “Dacey’s Patent Automatic Nanny,” which chronicles the consequences of machines raising human children. But arguably the most profound story is "Exhalation" (which won the 2009 Hugo Award for Best Short Story), a heart-rending message and warning from a scientist of a highly advanced, but now extinct, race of mechanical beings from another universe. Although the being theorizes that all life will die when the universes reach “equilibrium,” its parting advice will resonate with everyone: “Contemplate the marvel that is existence, and rejoice that you are able to do so.”

Visionary speculative stories that will change the way readers see themselves and the world around them: This book delivers in a big way.

Pub Date: May 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-101-94788-3

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Feb. 17, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2019

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