Redel writes with wit and with a great understanding of the vagaries of adult relationships.

READ REVIEW

MAKE ME DO THINGS

Eleven stories of love, loss and relationships gone awry.

Redel starts with one of her strongest stories, “You Look Like You Do,” in which a married couple, Antonio and Marley, fantasizes about including divorcee Sabina in their bed. When they share this fantasy with Sabina, she’s in equal measure intrigued and put off. Instead, she has a one-night stand with dance instructor Tomaso before seductively helping Marley with a family crisis. In “Stuff,” a man sorts through his late mother’s belongings with his girlfriend, trying to decide what’s to be tossed and what’s a necessary reminder of his mother’s existence. He comes across a well-creased (and obviously well-read) letter addressed to “Dear Full-Figured Lady” and signed by a man who was obviously interested in kindling a romance with her two years before she died. “The Third Cycle” introduces us to Polly and Susie, though these are personae created by two women having lunch and flirting with the young waiter. At the table next to them is the “Blue Woman,” who’s having trouble trying to both eat and take care of her baby at the same time, so Polly and Susie take the baby from her in what seems an act of kindness. “Ahoy,” the final story in the collection, is both the longest and the best of Redel’s work here. The story self-consciously and brilliantly echoes John Fowles’ The French Lieutenant’s Woman when Olivia and her husband move to an island. She becomes pregnant but imagines the father to be Capt. Hardwick, a romantic 19th-century sea captain, rather than her egregious, drug-addled husband.

Redel writes with wit and with a great understanding of the vagaries of adult relationships.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-935536-37-6

Page Count: 200

Publisher: Four Way

Review Posted Online: Feb. 21, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2013

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2019

  • New York Times Bestseller

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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more