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Bang Crunch: Stories
Neil Smith
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Bang Crunch: Stories

3.77 of 5 stars 3.77  ·  rating details  ·  325 ratings  ·  52 reviews
'Bang Crunch' is a collection of stories that announce a major writer in the tradition of Yann Martel and Barbara Gowdy.
Unknown Binding, 243 pages
Published by Knopf Canada (first published January 16th 2007)
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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 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
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
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
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.
Ermina Williams
May 22, 2011 Ermina Williams marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Kofi Adisa
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.
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 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
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
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
A couple of really great short stories, a couple of really crazy short stories and everything in between.
Apr 18, 2008 Leika rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
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
Leah Shangrow
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.
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.
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.
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.
Really enjoyed some of the stories. Very interesting use of words and imagery.
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.
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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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!
A quote from the book, from the short story Extremities, can best sum up the events and characters in the whole book: 'Beneath the quiet equanimity, the simmering obsessions.'. Which holds true for many aspects of the our life, from falling in love to eating fries. And of course, People.
Jul 27, 2007 Leslie added it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fred
Very unique short stories. A glow in the dark gerbil. a widow who talks to her dead husband's ashes inside a curling stone. a girl who grows old and then young again, like the ever-expanding (and contracting?) universe. Worth reading. It's about 250 pages and I read it all in a weekend.
Here's the link to my blog for my review of 'Bang Crunch': (Please vote if you are so inclined):

My Blog (Have you read any good short story collections? Please let me know about them in my comments section):
Some of the analogies in the first few stories were so crisp and funny and unexpected that I had to read them aloud to my husband, laughing out loud. Really a good collection, though the stories went down a bit in quality as I went. I would give it 4.5 if that were an option.
this collection is at its best when its just neil smith writing whatever comes to mind. a couple of the stories are just absolutely beautiful (the girl with fred hoyle syndrome) and the rest are all rather blase. will definitely check in with his work in the future though...
Stacey Simmons
Delightful. Smith reminds me of an avant-garde writer who knows when to tone it back. My favorite is the story with two perspectives: a pair of gloves in a department store and a foot blown off an astronaut during re-entry. Surprisingly not kitsch.
Dean Taylor
The stories are interestingly weird, and keep you reading. Perhaps Smith's comparison of geyness with GFP is a little bit of a stretch, or maybe a little too easy, but even that story was enjoyable. I'll lok forward to reading more from Smith in the future.
This short-story collection was one or two stories too long. Eventually Neil Smith's (very) clever comparisons began to seem like a gimmick, and not giving his stories solid endings was less poignant and more hiply annoying.
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I'm the author of the novel Boo and the story collection Bang Crunch.

Boo will be published in seven languages. It comes out in English with Random House in May 2015.

My Facebook page:

I live in Montreal.
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“Beneath the quiet equanimity, the simmering obsessions.” 1 likes
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