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Fools: Stories

3.68  ·  Rating Details ·  566 Ratings  ·  125 Reviews
A dazzling new collection of interconnected stories by the National Book Award finalist.

When is it wise to be a fool for something? What makes people want to be better than they are? From New York to India to Paris, from the Catholic Worker movement to Occupy Wall Street, the characters in Joan Silber’s dazzling new story cycle tackle this question head-on.

Vera, the shy, a
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published May 13th 2013 by W. W. Norton Company
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Jan 03, 2014 Ellie rated it it was amazing
Why does not everybody know and read Joan Silber? She is consistently fabulous-from hear early Household Words: A Novel to the incredible In My Other Life: Stories and the breathtaking The Size of the World: A Novel up to and including her most recent collection of linked stories, Fools: Stories.

Fools: Stories circles around a group of left wing/anarchists based in New York City. There is a story from the time of Sacco and Vanzetti and a wonderful take on Dorothy Day before she was St. Dorothy w
Jan 14, 2013 Wesley rated it really liked it
I've yet to be disappointed in Silber's work. Generous, tender, and masterfully crafted, her books are deserving of a much larger audience and she belongs to be mentioned in the same conversations as Jennifer Egan, Ann Patchett, or Colum McCann. It's easy to comment on the sheer readability of Silber's writing, but in Fools it is accompanied by a melancholy and emotional intelligence that generates a warmth that's often missing from contemporary fiction.
Oct 02, 2013 Tracy rated it really liked it
Silber sums up this collection in a line from the title story - Fools - by stating; " All this laughing, I came to think, ignored the number of things a person could be a fool for in this life-". It's not that her characters were fools, but more, they were fooled in to believing, accepting or needing something from others and life. The author does an amazing job in connecting these stories. She skillfully manipulates time and place. Although these were separate stories, I felt the the structure ...more
May 24, 2013 Harriet rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I love story cycles, and I especially love Silber's. She writes about big ideas, but she does it in a way that feels specific and compelling. These interconnected stories weave together some of the most interesting and important themes of the last century, not in an academic way but in a meaningful and personal way. Her characters speak in their own voices, giving us a chance to look at things from more than one perspective. I read these stories twice in a row and will probably read them again, ...more
Jan 08, 2014 Lisa rated it it was amazing
Why has it taken me so long to discover Joan Silber? This is a terrific story cycle starting with a group of anarchists in New York, including Dorothy Day (before she converted to Catholicism). The stories expand to show the offspring and characters connected to the original group.
Hitessh Panchal
Apr 24, 2016 Hitessh Panchal rated it it was ok
Good Interweaving of characters between the stories. Also a character who acts selfish in one is portrayed as liberal in another. Good linking of characters. But somehow, it was not gripping as I expected.
Natalie Bakopoulos
Smart, intricate, beautifully crafted. My NYTBR review:
Sonia Reppe
Oct 16, 2013 Sonia Reppe rated it it was amazing
Shelves: shortstories
Awesome. In every story there were sentences and paragraphs that were perfect! These realistic stories are so close to perfection; Silber is a master.
Jun 05, 2013 Elizabeth rated it it was amazing
Review to follow.
Sep 23, 2013 LindaJ^ rated it it was amazing
Shelves: short-stories
I've been trying to read more collections of short stories but have not encountered many that I have really enjoyed. This collection is one of the few that captivated me.

The six stories here are loosely connected. Certain themes run through these stories, including religion, politics, love, money, and marriage. The country of India is a recurring presence. The characters are particularly well-developed in these stories. Situations arise and decisions are made, and some decisions have quite unfo
Mar 06, 2017 John rated it it was amazing
page turner--cohesive delivery through book
Josiah Hawkins
Apr 10, 2014 Josiah Hawkins rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a book that I originally picked up simply because of its cover art. It was upon a further search into Goodreads that I saw it had an average rating of five stars. I couldn't believe what it was that I had saw and as a result I made the immediate decision to read it one day. I eventually did end up buying the book and my excitement to read it had reached a fever pitch by the time it came time to open the front cover.

Fools is a collection of short stories that all ask the same question,
May 12, 2013 Mythili rated it really liked it
Is it weakness or wisdom that makes one a fool? Joan Silber’s sly, graceful new collection of stories takes up this question but doesn’t answer it outright. There were “a number of things a person could be a fool for in this life—a fool for love, a fool for Christ, a fool for admiration,” muses Vera, the narrator of the book’s title story. Her own foolish passion is anarchism, but her devotion to it creates the framework for a steady life, with a lasting marriage and children to raise. Her brand ...more
Jan 03, 2015 MaryJo rated it it was amazing
Trudy chose this volume of loosely connected short stories for our class this fall. The book begins with a story set in the late 1920s in New York City. It Centers on a groups of anarchist friends, several of whom live together. Associated with the group are Dorothy Day and her lover, Forster Batterham. Although Dorothy Day is a bit of an outlyer in the story, it covers the birth of Dorothy and Forster’s child, and Dorothy’s subsequent conversion to Catholicism. The stories question the value of ...more
May 31, 2014 Rose rated it liked it
Fools is one of those collections of loosely inter-related stories, one not even pretending to be a novel. The title story is about a married woman who is part of a group of young anarchist radicals in the New York of the 1920s. They're idealists, talkers, not bomb-makers, and one of their friends turns out to be Dorothy Day, the founder of the Catholic Worker movement. The book progresses through time and across the country and the world as the connections between the characters and the origina ...more
Sep 11, 2013 Gail rated it liked it
The stories had no redeeming value for me. Even when a book is well written, if the author doesn't make me care about the characters I personally don't enjoy the read. All the characters were unlikable, shallow, self absorbed, arrogant and self righteous. I learned nothing and felt my time was wasted--who cares about "fools"?
Jul 07, 2013 Kate rated it liked it
This book is a series of short stories set in NY with people whose lives cross paths. It's called "Fools" because every character is foolish and leads a pretty disappointing life. All in all I didn't love it. It was well written but just very depressing. Each story just left me thinking "so what".
Jul 02, 2013 Katie rated it liked it
While there was nothing wrong with this book, there was nothing particularly engaging either. I wasn't drawn in by any of the characters or situations. But it wasn't like I gave it up either. It really might be someone else's cup of tea.
Feb 22, 2013 Lauren rated it really liked it
Shelves: best-of-2013
I may need to add another star.

I loved these stories - lightly interconnected but each one could stand on its own. When is it wise to be a fool for something - for love, for ideals, for money?

Beautiful and thought provoking.
Jun 15, 2016 Heather rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction, 2016-reads
I loved the interconnected stories of this book. So many ideals to make fools of us all in this life.
Charles Finch
Jun 14, 2014 Charles Finch rated it it was amazing
Boy, what a book. Grown-up, thoughtful, subtle, lovely, full. I'm a big fan.
Feb 17, 2014 Sue rated it it was ok
Probably me, not the book.. But I never really got too connected to any of the characters or storylines in this one.
Roger Brunyate
Jun 11, 2016 Roger Brunyate rated it really liked it
Shelves: stories, religion
In the Light of Day

She sneaks upon you unawares. The title story, which begins "A lot of people thought anarchists were fools," opens with a group of politically-engaged young people living in a Village apartment in the nineteen-twenties. One of them has a friend called Dorothy. A few pages later, we hear that this Dorothy has a beach cottage on Staten Island. Wait a minute, I thought, isn't this Dorothy Day? A few years ago I had made sketches for an opera about the founder of the Catholic Work
missy jean
Mar 10, 2017 missy jean rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
An excellent collection of interrelated stories. I didn't know that I so badly wanted to read about Depression-era anarchists, but I did!
Kathleen Maher
An epigraph to Joan Silber's collection of six stories comes from William Blake: "If the fool would persist in his folly he would become wise."

Silber is among my favorite writers of all time. She pulls me into her fiction so thoroughly that I read her books several times in succession without interruption. Her short stories and novels become my world for a while. And that, for me as a fiction writer too, is the ultimate, mysterious achievement.

Among various literary challenges preoccupying me in
May 15, 2013 Juliet rated it really liked it
Ah, yes. This is what short stories should be like. Not little blips whose only purpose is to stand around and act cool, but full pictures of a person's life. In most of Silber's stories, she gives her characters the microphone and lets them tell you the story of their life. Never rambling or slow, but paced like a person would actually tell you their story -- with bits of detail here and there to give it life and breath, but still with a sweep and perspective that is born of time and wisdom and ...more
Kim Wong
Dec 26, 2013 Kim Wong rated it really liked it
Shelves: 50-50-2014, fiction
Joan Silber's short stories collection, Fools, is a moving collection of six structurally and emotionally interconnected stories. These connections create the emotional webs that bind characters across time and continents, and Silber weaves the web skillfully, pulling at our expectations and understandings of the characters based on the story's perspective. Characters present their lives the way they want us to know them by, and we see the confirmations and contradictions when other characters r ...more
Natalie Pyles
Made up of 6 really engaging short stories that span the last century of American history. Silber’s writing reminded me of Roald Dahl because each story is interesting and could stand alone, but in her book common characters link each story. The only problem is that I had a hard time remembering everything from the past stories when those characters would reappear. The common theme between all of the stories is being a fool for things, like money, ideals or love. You start with a young group of ...more
Nov 09, 2014 Sterlingcindysu rated it liked it
3.5 rounded down. This is a book of interlocking short stories and I was flipping back and forth quite a bit to figure out who was who's daughter, husband, lover, etc. I'd advise to read this in as few sittings as possible so your memory stays intact. If I remember Olive Kitteridge was set up the same way although I never had a problem remembering who was who in those stories/chapters. The first story, Fools, just had way too many characters in it.

I really like short stories and compare them to
Chris Wharton
Not sure why, but I did not like this collection of linked narratives as much as others, such as TransAtlantic, Archangel, Cloud Atlas, and the author’s earlier The Size of the World (which I really liked, in part because of its Southeast Asia connections). There is some good writing here – very concrete, detailed, tangible local settings depicted across a century of US and international locations. And interesting themes -- religion and 20th-century U.S. political radicalism, in particular (the ...more
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Joan Silber is the author of six previous works of fiction. Among many awards and honors, she has won a PEN/Hemingway Award and has been a finalist for the National Book Award and the Los Angeles Times Fiction Prize. She teaches at Sarah Lawrence College and lives in New York City.
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“If you saw through everything, it made it hard to figure out what to do with yourself.” 3 likes
“You don't know what you're going to be faithful to in this world, do you? It was true I didn't have what other people had, I knew that, and yet I couldn't think of a single other life I envied - no, I couldn't - though I knew better than to try to get anyone to believe it.” 0 likes
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