From a distinguished Southern writer, a very fine collection capped by a masterful novella.

EVENINGLAND

A quiet, beautifully modulated group of six short stories and a novella set in or near Mobile, Alabama.

Knight (The Typist, 2010, etc.) focuses mostly on characters who belong, as he says with gentle irony, to "the right kind of Mobile family." These are for the most part white Southerners working with—and sometimes against—hereditary privilege: an older generation of male real estate moguls, shipping magnates, lawyers, marina owners and their well-meaning but insulated children, who must grapple with the shadows thrown by these gruff, un-self-conscious self-made men, who, as one of the younger generation puts it, "could take up space like nobody in the world." Knight's style is deceptively plainspoken, with low-key wit and a laconic precision that often ripens, as a story proceeds, into poignancy. One standout, "Jubilee," focuses on a middle-aged bourgeois cliché, a 50th-birthday bash at a grand hotel, but does so with such deftness and delicacy that the reader is ambushed, in the end, by mingled envy, pity, and empathy. As Dean and Kendra walk along the boardwalk toward the party and spy their assembled friends inside, there's a frisson of nerves, a kiss quickly wiped away, and finally a bittersweet revelation, half joy and half caution: "They must stay this course until the end." But the centerpiece and triumph of the collection is its closing novella, Landfall, which tells with enormous finesse, speed, and concision, like a family saga in demi-glace reduction, the mingled stories of a shipyard-owning family—the widow of the paterfamilias, her daughter and two sons, the daughter's two daughters, one son's beloved dog—as a hurricane bears down on Mobile.

From a distinguished Southern writer, a very fine collection capped by a masterful novella.

Pub Date: March 7, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-8021-2597-2

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Atlantic Monthly

Review Posted Online: Dec. 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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THE COMPLETE SHORT STORIES OF ERNEST HEMINGWAY

THE FINCA VIGIA EDITION

What's most worthy in this hefty, three-part volume of still more Hemingway is that it contains (in its first section) all the stories that appeared together in the 1938 (and now out of print) The Fifth Column and the First Forty-Nine Stories. After this, however, the pieces themselves and the grounds for their inclusion become more shaky. The second section includes stories that have been previously published but that haven't appeared in collections—including two segments (from 1934 and 1936) that later found their way into To Have and Have Not (1937) and the "story-within-a-story" that appeared in the recent The garden of Eden. Part three—frequently of more interest for Flemingway-voyeurs than for its self-evident merits—consists of previously unpublished work, including a lengthy outtake ("The Strange Country") from Islands in the Stream (1970), and two poor-to-middling Michigan stories (actually pieces, again, from an unfinished novel). Moments of interest, but luckiest are those who still have their copies of The First Forty-Nine.

Pub Date: Dec. 2, 1987

ISBN: 0684843323

Page Count: 666

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 1987

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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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