Excels in narrative quality, creativity and variety.

TO MAKE A LONG STORY SHORT

Four stories and a poem encompass themes ranging from metaphysical healing to the Holocaust.

Debut writer Patrick opens with a one-page verse voiced by a man who has forgotten how to be grateful, asking himself “is it merely human essence or just a spoiled brat that makes me this way?” Four stories follow, the shortest of which–“The Final Tip”–is a clever tale narrated by an unnamed inanimate object who, after subsisting through a dark life of horrific abuse, torture and neglect, finally finds a home on a young waitress’ dresser. Humanitarian Andrea discovers she has miraculous healing powers in “Laryngitis”–simply by reading aloud the favorite books of those who are in dire health, she brings about their swift rejuvenescence. A series of accidents cripples her abilities as the increasing demand for her assistance overwhelms her and she realizes that “there’s something bigger running our universe.” The first of Patrick’s heavily populated, novella-length entries, “Baker’s Dozen,” follows a female psychotherapist who finds her hands full with a melting pot of twelve excessively needy patients. Among them are a compulsive gambler, a junk-food junkie, an overeater, a shoplifter, a sex addict, a female narcissist, an OCD victim and a clean freak–each in a state of mental and emotional disarray. The group unites for a four-week “revival camp” in the Adirondack Mountains where the interactive melodrama has surprisingly effective results. Two homosexual German guards who fall in love during Hitler’s 1941 reign in the touching tale “Nothing Much to Write Home About”–they’re among the many desperately attempting to flee Nazi Germany for an unfettered future. Textured with authentic emotion and nail-biting suspense, Patrick saved this most impressive and complicated work for last. Considering this is the author’s debut, he already appears pleasingly accomplished.

Excels in narrative quality, creativity and variety.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2009

ISBN: 978-1-4392-0922-6

Page Count: -

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 23, 2010

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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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BEYOND THE GREAT SNOW MOUNTAINS

Superb stylist L’Amour returns (End of the Drive, 1997, etc.), albeit posthumously, with ten stories never seen before in book form—and narrated in his usual hard-edged, close-cropped sentences, jutting up from under fierce blue skies. This is the first of four collections of L’Amour material expected from Bantam, edited by his daughter Angelique, featuring an eclectic mix of early historicals and adventure stories set in China, on the high seas, and in the boxing ring, all drawing from the author’s exploits as a carnival barker and from his mysterious and sundry travels. During this period, L’Amour was trying to break away from being a writer only of westerns. Also included is something of an update on Angelique’s progress with her father’s biography: i.e., a stunningly varied list of her father’s acquaintances from around the world whom she’d like to contact for her research. Meanwhile, in the title story here, a missionary’s daughter who crashes in northern Asia during the early years of the Sino-Japanese War is taken captive by a nomadic leader and kept as his wife for 15 years, until his death. When a plane lands, she must choose between taking her teenaged son back to civilization or leaving him alone with the nomads. In “By the Waters of San Tadeo,” set on the southern coast of Chile, Julie Marrat, whose father has just perished, is trapped in San Esteban, a gold field surrounded by impassable mountains, with only one inlet available for anyone’s escape. “Meeting at Falmouth,” a historical, takes place in January 1794 during a dreadful Atlantic storm: “Volleys of rain rattled along the cobblestones like a scattering of broken teeth.” In this a notorious American, unnamed until the last paragraph, helps Talleyrand flee to America. A master storyteller only whets the appetite for his next three volumes.

Pub Date: May 11, 1999

ISBN: 0-553-10963-4

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Bantam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1999

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