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4.17 of 5 stars 4.17  ·  rating details  ·  1,622 ratings  ·  133 reviews
This book is a collection of 20 short stories by young Southern writer, Barry Hannah. Some of the titles included: 'Water Liars', 'Love Too Long', 'Green Gets It', 'Return to Return', and 'Knowing He Was Not My Kind yet I Followed'.
Paperback, alt cover edition of ISBN 0802133886, 288 pages
Published 1994 by Grove/Atlantic, Inc. (first published 1978)
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Mar 21, 2012 Mariel rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Mindy Metalman
Recommended to Mariel by: Monkey
What are all these about?"
"What do you think?"
"I don't know... smudges? The vagueness of all things?"
"They aren't things. They're emotions."
"You mean hate, fear, desire, envy?"
"Yes. And triumph and despair." She pointed.
"This is subtle. They look the same," Levaster said.
"I know. I'm a nihilist."
"You aren't any such thing."
"Oh? Why not?"
"Because you've combed your hair. You wanted me to come in here and discover that you're a nihilist," Levaster said.
"Nihilists can come their hair." She bit her
Paquita Maria Sanchez
The easiest place to have wit is in the presence of another’s need.

Boy oh boy, there are a lot of wonderful books out there. Did you guys know this? It's true! I picked up Airships out of that same strange magnetic pull which makes you feel compelled to engage a stranger in conversation in a bar or on a sidewalk for reasons not explained by physical attraction. And to be honest, I don't find this book's cover particularly appealing, and the gr blurb about it leaves a number of somethings to be d...more
The late Barry Hannah was unquestionably a good writer. His versatility was amazing. The characters that inhabit these stories are soldiers, tennis pros, cannibals and high school band members. Most of them are not very likable. They say and do nasty, shocking things. They are starchy and opinionated, and take some getting used to, which is why I think Hannah works better in the long form. His magic and sly humor take a while to creep up on you. Quite honestly, there are several stories here tha...more
j. ergo
I am halfway through Airships, reading it for the fifth time, but not for a long time, and I can only think of two things. Return to Return may be the greatest short story I have ever read, and Barry Hannah is the only writer I truly love that makes me feel capable of being a writer. Every single other writer I treasure is a discouragement to my own writing through their ability to make me see things I've never seen before, in ways I am unable to imagine myself. The intelligence, wit, and crafts...more
As usual, as always: there’s something so unholy about Barry Hannah’s sentences that I want to strip them all of context and make the most beautiful poetry.

A lot of praise gets sung for “Testimony of Pilot,” and rightfully so, but the simple “Water Liars,” the mad and sweet “Love Too Long,” the Vietnam Catch-22 “Midnight And I’m Not Famous Yet,” and the delightfully slow-revealing horror of “Eating Wife and Friends”— more Walking Dead than Walking Dead, more The Road than The Road, and so funny...more
Ned Mozier
What makes this widely varied (size and subject) collection of stories unique is that all are told from inside the mind of (mostly) unbalanced narrators. Each seems to start in a state of confusion or sheer chaos, but Hannah masterfully brings the facts and the motivations into play, and his descriptions are truly fresh and raw. His style is like few others I’ve read, evocative of TC Boyle’s finest and whacked out storylines like Vonnegut. One must be alert and reading carefully as his prose is...more
Apr 30, 2007 Sam rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: maniacs who love the South
Shelves: shortfiction
It feels strange to give an explanation of why I love this book so much. I gave one of the stories, "Testimony of Pilot" to a group of kids I was teaching last winter, and I am afraid to say not a one of them found it the least bit interesting. In fact, they were mightily confused by it. We had been reading an O'Henry Prize collection, and I think they had gotten used to a very structured, rigorous kind of short story; the Hannah didn't really do if for them. But the reason I like Airships so mu...more
Ben Loory
Carlos winced. He wanted something gravely miserable. He had once married a girl from Grand Forks. They were both fat. She had hair on her back and her toes were black with fur. In fact, she was almost a man, seemed to have missed it by one flick of agitation of a gene. She dressed in cowboy fashion, jeans, boots, thirty-dollar hat now that she'd married a guy in the money. Carlos was a Presbyterian then, trying to be a preacher in Tucson, where Navajos started a fistfight during Carlos's sermon...more
It's difficult to give one rating to a book of short stories, but I enjoyed some of these so much that they overpower the few that I couldn't get into. Barry Hannah has lived down the street since I moved there at age 10, but after my mother stopped me from reading his books in middle school (smart woman), I didn't pick them up until recently. I'm very glad I did. My favorite stories were Water Liars, Love too Long, Return to Return, Our Secret Home, and Mother Rooney Unscrolls the Hurt. I didn'...more
Hands down Barry Hannah is the best short story writer dead or alive except for maybe Raymond Carver, though his stories aren't for those easily offended. Look if you love great literature pick up this book and damn it read the fucking thing, anything less would doing the written word a grave disservice!
Airships makes me want to be a better man.
A lot of these stories require a bit more focus and patience than most short stories do. They are convoluted and surreal with characters about whom you sometimes don't really care. And that's the beauty of them.

I would recommend:
"Love Too Long"
"Testimony of Pilot": intriguing and original, and you'll never forget Arden Quadberry.
"Return to Return": an odd account of jealousy, I suppose; good psychological read.
"Our Secret Home"
I would say "Constant Pain in Tuscaloosa" and "Mother Rooney Unscro...more
Without ever wandering far from a very Southern core, these stories span a wide range of dysfunctions, primarily revolving around love, family, and friendship. And as a whole they are very well written and enjoyable to read. Their lengths vary greatly, which I didn't realize I would appreciate so much when just scanning the table of contents. But one or two stories spanning just a handful of pages between some of the lengthier ones was a bit like coming up for sweet little sips of fresh air betw...more
Jamie Allen
half read. had to stop for now because, although the stories are obviously pretty genius, they operate on the same physics, understand the same universe, are powered by the same god. i had to take a break from it. and i was getting all these strong feelings only partly associated with the stories: hannah reminds me of my dad's southern friends and how they told stories; hannah or someone like him might have stood in my dad's southern kitchen and told a funny, crazy story there; hannah's style, s...more
Brian Gatz
This has 5 star stories in it: 'Dragged Fighting from His Tomb', 'Testimony of Pilot', and 'Midnight and I'm Not Famous Yet'. Each of these stories are masterpieces. I just skimmed too many of the shorter pieces (that may be my fault, no his). I've got a pretty big soft spot for Barry Hannah: 'Long, Last, Happy' has all the best of this book and other stuff, too. I'd pick that up. I may read it again. Anyway, he's a top-tier writer. He's got equals, but I don't really care. His stories cut and h...more
This man could write. His perspective is as unique as anything I have ever read. How in the world he can switch up sentences, thoughts, observations and yet it come out in the end as mostly perceivable I have no idea. My first taste of Hannah, will not be my last.

While I did love the fact that the stories jumped from Civil War soldier tales to something futuristic to something out of the sixties to something that could be happening at a house on my street (HEAVEN FORBID), it was difficult for me...more
I'll admit that it's an unfair bias of mine to assume that literature should have any real "point", but despite the sheer oddity of most of the stories in this collection, the appeal of Barry Hannah's strange style is the most enjoyable when he is the most lucid. As awkward to read as as they sometimes are, stories like "Love Too Long", "Testimony of Pilot", "Our Secret Home", "Eating Wife and Friends", "All the Old Harkening Faces at the Rail", and "Constant Pain in Tuscaloosa" are enjoyable. Y...more
This is my first experience with Barry Hannah; I'm an obvious late comer. This collection is one surprising sentence after another. The characters here are other-worldly. Hannah is the kind of writer that is maddening to read because I can't see where he's coming from. Trying to track his narrative logic is impossible. His prose is all over the place (in the best possible way) and it's as weird and disturbing as his murderous characters.

The longer stories were the most impressive ("Testimony of...more
Masie Cochran (Associate Editor, Tin House Books): I’m reading Airships by Barry Hannah. I read this collection in high school, again in college, and keep coming back to it every few years. I love “Testimony of Pilot, “(take a second and read An Amazing Sentence Shape by Kate Brittain), “Green Gets It,” and “Our Second Home.” But this week, for whatever reason, I’ve read “Love too Long” twice. It’s angry and sloppy and wild and raw and so, so good. It’s about a lot of things, but mainly a man wh...more
John Molina
Barry Hannah's "AirShips" is a collection of short stories that are twisted, completely inventive, and written in Hannah's distinctly southern style. Hannah has a talent for taking ordinary cliched plots, and making them his own in a way that I have seen few writers attempt, let alone succeed at. The book is fearless in that it does not follow the conventions of traditional literature- by doing this- the book is able to establish a unique tone and style that is innovative and entertaining. I fou...more
A strange but enjoyable collection of stories by somebody I'd never read prior to this, though apparently I am one of the last literary folks in America to have heard of Barry Hannah (I spend too much time buried in reading translations, I suppose). These stories are written in a wry yet humane style that is at once humorous and dissociative. There is something off about them, and it's not always apparent. Sometimes it's a word twisted here and there in the sentence, sometimes it's the stories s...more
Style is lively but subject matter and general outlook are not my jam. Couldn't finish the last story. I know that it's supposed to be funny... but once I was starting to watch The Ring with a friend and just looking at the opening credits he said: I'm not sure I want these pictures in my brain; let's not watch this. And lo, I do not want more Hannah in my brain, so I did not finish it.
This is a 2 1/2 really. I appreciate his unique voice and way with dialogue. That said a few of the stories just felt like his subconscious thrown up on the page, and not in a good way. I'll probably try a different collection instead of coming back to this one, which I stalled out on halfway through.
Robb Todd
A couple good stories, a few clever turns of phrase but nothing that moved me. Maybe my expectations were set too high by a friend who has a fetish for Southern writers because he's from New York City. I blame him. I wasn't as impressed by the dialect.
He's good. Real good. The southern thing is so foreign to me that I might as well be reading science fiction for all I know that it's actually like this.
Ryan Dilbert
How do you spell the sound you make when you stick your tongue out and roll your eyes and raise your eyebrows at some over hyped book?
This is just about as bizarre as it gets. Barry Hannah is a mad genius, but sometimes a little too mad for his own good.
Vittorio Ducoli
Tematiche intriganti in una salsa un po' stantìa

Non credo che Barry Hannah sia un autore troppo conosciuto da noi in Italia. Una breve ricerca su internet ha dato come risultato due soli libri pubblicati, entrambi da Giunti, di cui questo Mezzanotte e non sono ancora famoso presenta la sua più famosa raccolta di racconti, avente il titolo originale di Airships ed edita nel 1978.
L'autore è uno statunitense morto nel 2010 a soli 58 anni, nato e vissuto nel profondo sud degli Stati Uniti. Chi voles...more
Mike Polizzi
There is in this collection an absolutely perfect story, settled in amongst a number of great shorter works, whiz-bang sentences and some fall-apart call-the-editor wheezing notions. Testimony of Pilot may be one of the best paced stories I've ever read. The details are meted out in Elastic-man prose, the plot is expansive though focused, the images are unique, the characters and the setting are enthralling. It is terrifying to see that story jammed up against some of the other pieces in this co...more
Matthew Peck
4 1/2 stars. Food, music, and literature: those Southerners just keep trouncing us Yankees in certain fields. This is my introduction to the late Barry Hannah, and now I'm hooked for good. 'Airships' really lives up to its reputation as one of the most dazzling of American short-story collections. Right from its first sentence and throughout, the pure ballsiness of Hannah's style is apparent, stringing words together in such bizarre, unheard-of ways: "One had to engage himself like suck's reveng...more
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Barry Hannah was an American novelist and short story writer from Mississippi. He was the author of eight novels and five short story collections. He worked with notable American editors and publishers such as Gordon Lish, Seymour Lawrence, and Morgan Entrekin. His work was published in Esquire, The New Yorker, The Oxford American, The Southern Review, and a host of American magazines and quarterl...more
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“What a bog and labyrinth the human essence is... We are all overbrained and overemotioned.” 17 likes
“I looked over the despondency of the home crowd. Fools! Fools! I thought. Love it! Love the loss as well as the gain. Go home and dig it. Nobody was killed. We saw victory and defeat, and they were both wonderful.” 4 likes
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