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Bang Crunch

3.77  ·  Rating Details  ·  376 Ratings  ·  63 Reviews
In Neil Smith’s nine stories, average people find themselves in decidedly unusual situations, as the mundane and the fantastic collide. A woman mourning the loss of her husband finds solace in talking to his ashes, entombed in a curling stone. The title story zeroes in on a girl with Fred Hoyle syndrome, whose age expands and contracts like the universe. The members of a s ...more
Paperback, 242 pages
Published January 8th 2008 by Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group (first published January 16th 2007)
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Mar 30, 2010 Jacob rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2010-2011
Saw this at the thrift store a few months back, later got it from an online bookswap. Very impressive collection, and from a relative newcomer, too. Finely-written stories, great prose, nowhere near as gimmicky or forced as other youngish, manly-male writers I've read lately. (see Craig Davidson; see, if you must, *mumblemumbleChuckPalahniukmumble*)

In "Green Fluorescant Protein" and "Funny Weird or Funny Ha Ha?", a teenaged "Jock Philistine" struggles with unusual feelings for his best friend, w
Feb 11, 2014 Erik rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everyone
Recommended to Erik by: the author
Some of the greatest short stories I have ever read. I had a signed copy of this, but I let someone borrow it and they were unable to return it like a decent human being. I just ordered a used copy and can't wait to read it again. I had the pleasure of meeting the author at an event in Maryland a few years ago. He read something from an upcoming novel, but to date, I have not heard anything about it. This book is easy to find for prices less than it's worth. Neil Smith's stories will get right t ...more
George Ilsley
This collection is front-loaded, with the two stand out stories coming first, and then the rest, which pales in comparison. Smith has a very clever writing style, and in his best work, the cleverness is supported by depth. However, he is not always able to achieve this balance. Most of the collection, apart from the first two stories, feels like superficial cleverness.

The final piece, Jaybird, is perhaps an example of the curse of the Montreal writer. I don't recall the word "French" in this pie
Jul 20, 2015 Christine rated it it was amazing
These are contemporary, urban stories about characters in various states of existential discomfort. In “Isolettes,” Jacob keeps his friend company, she who has just given birth to the child product of his sperm donation. In “Bang Crunch,” narrated in second person by a young woman with a syndrome that ages her very rapidly; her mother thinks of an ever expanding universe, like the Big Bang theory, but she feels that the brain will collapse under its own weight, more of a Big Crunch (how the stor ...more
Inhibitor Medichine
A solid little collection of human stories. Clever themes, tight writing, and very vibrant three dimensional characters. Something to relate to in every story, with only one stinker in the bunch. Neil Smith is Canadian, so there was a little more french in it than I was prepared for. I should probably learn at least some basic French at some point.

3.5 stars averaged, rounded up because there are some killer ones in here.

Isolettes: 4/5
Sad, but very poetic and knowing. Love this guy’s writing.

Apr 16, 2012 Hailey rated it it was amazing
I got this book in a bookstore that was closing down for less than $1.50. As far as I'm concerned it was a fantastic deal that introduced me to an author that I hope releases more short stories soon.

In short stories, authors have more freedom to try out less conventional points of view. I think that Neil Smith gets most of these narratives right, not making them overly gimmicky or preachy. The first three stories were my favourites- 'Isolettes', 'Green Fluorescent Protein', and 'The B9ers'. Smit
Sonal Champsee
Feb 08, 2015 Sonal Champsee rated it really liked it
The first story, Isolettes, is something I'd read before and loved which gave me high hopes for this collection. I think, though, that set my expectations too high as Isolettes is the strongest story--tender, funny, heartbreaking, a little odd, and told in clean, beautiful language. The rest of the stories have these qualities, but perhaps not quite to the same degree. Still, very strong work. Smith has a habit of telling stories in vignettes, which works very well.
Nov 22, 2015 Alexis rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2015
I had to read this for an assignment for a course I'm taking with Sarah Selecky. I thought I'd read it before, but it turns out I hadn't.

This is a collection of nine stories. Neil Smith can write. He writes in a simple, plain language style that I did. His stories have weird plot twists and a heavy emphasis on character and the unexpected.

Now I have to go and write an essay about what I can learn from his writing. :)
Cathy Austin
Nov 06, 2015 Cathy Austin rated it it was amazing
Clever and fresh writing in this collection of short stories.I read Boo, Smith's first novel, in July. This book of stories was written a few years ago and is as delightfully different as Boo. Smith has a unique gift for story telling. Short sentences, terrific metaphors, characters that can be described in a few words, sense of place and setting is familiar: Montreal and environs. The everyday of our lives is just a bit different under Smith's pen and observations. The B9ers and Jaybird particu ...more
Ermina Williams
May 22, 2011 Ermina Williams marked it as to-read
Shelves: put-down
Oh. This was sort of like having a quasi intellectual conversation with a superficial art director/ commercial television director in Toronto. (Speaking from experience.) It was wanting so much to be informed, to come across as a plunging foray into quirky poignant vignettes of life, but it grasped at all the strangest straws and references to appear interesting. Sorry Neil Smith, I am sure you are good guy! I didn't get it, tried a few of the short stories, but couldn't see them through. Like t ...more
Mar 15, 2008 Lawrence rated it really liked it
Terrific set of short stories with a precise turn of phrase that creates an arresting image in your mind about a character, a situation. Many times when I finished a story, I had to stop reading and catch my breath. Yes, there's some melancholy overtones to many of the stories, but ultimately they are positive and filled with hope. There's not a weak story in the bunch from the mother who's uncertain that "like" is enough to the basketball player struggling to figure out what his relationship wi ...more
May 04, 2016 Alyssa added it
Didn't love these stories. In the first, the character was so dispassionate, it was impossible to like her. I also felt some of the plot developments in other stories were over the top and not in a good way. I did, however, enjoy the story of the teenage boy who may be coming into his sexuality as a gay man. It was carefully and sensitively told.
Kofi Adisa
Dec 03, 2014 Kofi Adisa rated it really liked it
If you like stories about Toronto or stories about introspection, then I highly recommend Bang Crunch. Some of the stories are a bit long, but they never cease to hold a reader's interests. Smith's stories are poignant and humorous; his sentences and similes are clever and buoyant. This collection is really good.
Tara Bates
Sep 19, 2015 Tara Bates rated it really liked it
I enjoyed reading this collection. The stories were short and easy to read, the characters were engaging. The plots were so varied and interesting, and I enjoyed the occasional crossing of characters from other stories.
31 in 2015 ultimate reading challenge "a book of short stories."
Jun 01, 2008 Natalie rated it liked it
There were a few stories in this collection that I really loved, a couple that I really hated, and the rest that I just didn't really care about at all. The collection felt very much like a first book and Smith as a writer who was trying really hard to be experimental or shocking. The best stories were at the front of the book. I really liked "Flor. Green Protein" and "Isolettes". I didn't care for "Extremities" or "Bang Crunch".

I will say that often Smith creates an arresting image or strange
Feb 03, 2008 Angela rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: someone into VERY modern lit.
Recommended to Angela by: Borders
I bought this on a whim at Border's one Sunday thinking the cover looked good, they were advertising it, the back description was intriguing. Then getting over buyers remorse I opened it up and let his stories depress me. Their all pretty much downers except for the one about benign tumors and the one about the actor. I really liked the title story Bang Crunch even though it was about an extraordinary but rapidly dying 8 year old, Funny Weird or Funny Ha Ha was interesting and I was really drawn ...more
Jennifer Kalen
Nov 22, 2009 Jennifer Kalen rated it really liked it
I've been really into short stories again; ever since Miranda July came out w/ her collection. This Canadian writer reminds me of her; not as quirky but a little more skilled in the art of literature. He probably got an MFA in short fiction and maybe these stories were his thesis and he polished them for publication. I just get that feeling.

I am reading this very slowly in order to savor the book.
FABULOUS stories. Each time I finish reading one I am moved, emotionally, intellectually; I think, I
Mar 01, 2015 Christine rated it liked it
Shelves: kobo
A couple of really great short stories, a couple of really crazy short stories and everything in between.
Corrie Adams
Jul 01, 2015 Corrie Adams rated it really liked it
Again, I wish Goodreads let me give half-marks. Probably would be a 3.5, as some stories in the collection are stronger than others. But for the sake of Isolettes, I am bumping it up to 4.
Apr 18, 2008 Leika rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everyone on the planet
superb. the stories make you think in a different way. for example, "extremities" is told from the first person point of view of a right foot and third person omniscient view of a pair of gloves. Some stories made me feel uncomfortable in a way that made me think about the human condition. i think that smith chose to put the best story for last- "jaybird" was probably the most provocative of the stories, and, to me, the most thought provoking. i highly recommend this book to anyone really, unles ...more
Jun 04, 2015 Alan rated it liked it
Shelves: short-stories
Ummm. Didn't like a couple of these, the talking gloves/right foot one, and the long last one about elaborate theatrical revenge, although it had its moments. Enough invention and insight in the others to make me note his name though. Family relations, alcoholism, adolescence, sex and especially illness explored with some power and honesty. Another Canadian too..
Dec 30, 2014 Leah rated it it was amazing
I am not usually one for short stories, because I tend to prefer more developed works. But Neil Smith nails it. His stories are short but completely perfected--he has found the exact ways to make your heart swell and the exact moments to smash your heart on the floor. His characters are flawed, they make mistakes, and they feel so real. Green Fluorescent Protein has got to be one of the best short stories I've ever read. Smith is a genius, and I can't wait to read his next book.
Dec 30, 2013 Loretta rated it it was amazing
These stories knocked me out. Just lovely.

Except for the one told from the point of view of a severed foot and a pair of gloves. That was highly weird, and yet, it oddly kind of worked. I just...wouldn't call that one lovely. Brave, sure.

But the other stories I really loved. The characters, the heart, the humanity.
Nov 16, 2009 David rated it really liked it
People often say that all the stories there are to write have been written, that writing is just taking old stories and retelling them in the author's own way. In these stories, Neil Smith makes me doubt that conventional wisdom. Original and imaginative. Smith makes the most bizarre things happen in the most mundane settings, giving birth to something new. The result is enthralling and intriguing. These are not stories to miss.
Blake Kanewischer
I like short story collections because they're like little dips into an author's mind. Smith's stories are often set in a slightly askew Montreal, which is hard to imagine, but true. He uses short, punchy, declarative sentences to frame a scene, and has some incredibly imaginative concepts for stories. Well worth picking up and keeping at the bedside for those 20 minute reading jags before closing your eyes.
Mar 22, 2008 Laura rated it really liked it
Good collection of short stories. Smith does well with a variety of moods, from the touching to the absurd, and the narratives are almost all engaging. There was only one story that failed to impress -- Extremities, which was purportedly about gloves in love with a member of store security, but I have to admit I got so fed up with it early on that I gave it a miss after a few pages.
Jan 15, 2014 Ellie rated it liked it
Really enjoyed some of the stories. Very interesting use of words and imagery.
Jan 27, 2008 Angela rated it liked it
Shelves: literary-fiction
It was okay. I started out reading it, and about two stories in I was thinking, "Hey, my husband could do better than this." Another two stories, and it was "Hey, I could do better than this!"

Still, it was, as stated earlier, okay. I wouldn't buy it, but I could see spending some time in a library or bookstore perusing some of the stories.
Feb 19, 2008 Jodi rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2008-read
The first two stories in Neil Smith’s short story collection Bang Crunch were so punch-in-the-gut good that it caused me a bit of anxiety. Could he keep up this stellar pace? What if he does? What if the entire collection is this good? Will my heart be able to take it?

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Mar 24, 2009 Amy rated it really liked it
I got this for free, and read it very quickly, and very much enjoyed it. While the litany of different structures & points-of-view got kind of gimmicky, it wasn't boring. I also liked how some of the characters were repeated in more than one story. It's mostly set in Montreal, too, which is sexy. Three cheers for new Canadian writers!
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I wrote the novel Boo, which is coming out in seven languages around the world. I also wrote the book of stories Bang Crunch. I live in Montreal. You can friend me on Facebook.
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