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At the Gates of the Animal Kingdom: Stories

4.24  ·  Rating Details  ·  696 Ratings  ·  46 Reviews
Amy Hempel's collection of 16 stories seems to ask: "What if people could be just a little more like dogs - -forever loyal, ardent and loving in our hearts?"
Paperback, 160 pages
Published August 28th 1995 by Harper Perennial (first published 1990)
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(showing 1-30 of 1,953)
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Jul 11, 2008 Richard rated it really liked it
It's almost too easy to start out this review with a metaphor based on a line from a story in this book. Never mind that it's a line from the best story in here ("The Harvest") and that it seems ample: "I leave a lot out when I tell the truth." This seems too easy a start, and it doesn't feel all that original. I'd only be repeating an idea some other reviewer must have come up with, an idea that probably seemed cute at the time, and since I find most review writing stale and tedious, I'd prefer ...more
Selin Secen
Güzel öyküler var, kendi kendine konuşuyormuş gibi yazdışı gayet lüzumsuz öyküler de var. Birkaç sayfalık 5 öyküyle bir kitap çıkmayacağı için araya serpiştirilmiş gibi duran lüzumsuz öyküler okumanın tadını kaçırıyor.
James Ricci
Jul 17, 2008 James Ricci rated it really liked it
An interesting collection on account of familiarity. Which is to say that I gained an instantaneous sense of nostalgia when I read this for the first time. There is no real concrete explanation for this circumstance, it was a sensation of dramatic exploration.
Jul 21, 2011 Jamie rated it it was amazing
If I found "Reasons to Live" a rather uneven collection, this one solidified my intrigue in Hempel's work. Nearly every story is a keeper, and my central complaint with her debut--that some stories were unmemorable and that all of them sounded as though they were narrated by the same character, though they probably shouldn't have done--didn't hold true for "At the Gates." Particularly moving were "The Most Girl Part of You," "The Harvest" (the self-reflexivity worked really well here, and I thin ...more
Apr 14, 2011 Rob rated it really liked it
(8/10) The blurb for this book higher up on this page says that this collection asks what if dogs were more like humans. Well, if dogs were more like humans the sidewalks would be filled with poop and everytime you entered a room everyone in it would dive for your legs. I'm not what you would call a dog person, or an animal person really, so given this description and the beginning story of At the Gates of the Animal Kingdom, I was having uncomfortable flashbacks to [[A Companion Species Manifes ...more
Mar 06, 2014 Elisian rated it it was ok
No more Amy Hempel. No more program fiction. No more instagrammed sepia-filtered dirty laundry. No more beautiful pencil-drawn sentences of white people, red houses, and taupe minivans.

I am inspired to both poetry and hate. And to Pynchon, as remedy.
Laurentiu Olteanu
Aug 26, 2015 Laurentiu Olteanu rated it it was amazing
I recently discovered Hempel and found this second collection amazing. Initially, her short stories reminded me of Raymond Carver and Donald Barthelme, but that comparison is unfair for two reasons. The first is that Hempel's writing much deserves to be praised as her own; the witticism and playfulness, the smart turns of phrase and pokes at clichés, the acute emotions captured in distilled expressions, rejoin into one easily identifiable style. The second reason why my comparison is flawed has ...more
B. Mason
Jan 18, 2015 B. Mason rated it liked it
After reading Reasons to Live my expectations of an Amy Hempel collection is high. At the Gates of the Animal Kingdom has some stellar stories, but is also dominated by brief portrait pieces, flash fiction. This isn't a surprise given Hempel's tight style but a piece like "Lead Us Not Into Penn Station" just could've had so much more, and in the vein of so much of this short fiction it comes across as a blip rather than an impactful narrative. I wanted more from her and therefore in my bitter an ...more
May 13, 2014 Paul rated it liked it
Shelves: 2014
Not bad. I'd read this already, in the context of the collected stories. Maybe this isn't as strong as the other material. The first two stories were great, and thereafter I was kind of shrugging. I mean, Hempel is great, but all literature can't be like this. It's clever, and it's smart, but it's not incredibly deep in a character sense. These are snapshots, exercises. I may be moving away from this sort of thing in general, or I may have just not been in the mood. We'll see how I feel about th ...more
Colin McKay Miller
Four stars:

Collected Stories review:

Amy Hempel’s Collected Stories starts with my favorite short story collection ever, Reasons to Live, and then proceeds to highlight the author’s decline to mediocrity.

Don’t get me wrong; ask me who the best short story writer is and I’ll still say Amy Hempel, but sometimes you have to be honest, even about the people you admire most. Like many who got into Hempel prior to the rabid Chuck Palahniuk endorsement, I was hooked by the widely anthologized “In the Ce
Monica Cecilio
What I love about a great short story is that everything matters. Amy Hempel is known for her minimalist stories in which no words are wasted. I esp loved the title story, which I could really relate to and made me envision myself as an old lady. Amy's stories are able to evoke strong emotions in a handful of paragraphs. Many women will see parts of themselves in these stories.
Eric T. Voigt Voigt
Feb 19, 2016 Eric T. Voigt Voigt rated it it was amazing
Stories about chill dudes, tight-knit crews, lonesome wanderers, told with wit and charm to beat all. Though they're all on the shorter side there's twist after turns packed in, but gently, not jarringly, that lend themselves to raised eyebrows and pauses that lead to asking "no way. Really?" I highlighted the couple I had trouble with in my page updates, the rest of these stories were the bomb start to finish.
Sep 12, 2015 Adam rated it really liked it
Great read. Fascinating perspective and character development, even in a small span of words. Favorite stories include title story, "The Harvest," "Rapture of the Deep," and "Under No Moon."
Mar 18, 2009 Chris rated it it was amazing
I've been a fan of Hempel for awhile now. Her style is so sparse and so dense, I'm in awe of what she accomplishes with each piece. This collection, however, is nothing short of amazing. I often admire author's for the scenes they craft or lines they come up with, but no one blows my mind as often as Hempel does. She creates some new bizarre moment--that works though--and has her characters wittier than any stand-up comic. I envy her and try to learn what I can from these awesome stories.
John Orman
Jun 25, 2013 John Orman rated it liked it
These stories are generally concerned with rescuing women's panic-driven lives, with an emphasis on coming together and making do in dire circumstances.

All of a sudden, in "To all of those who missed their flights out of O'Hare", there are references to the joys of not flying, mentioning Santa Fe and the Sandia Mountains. Cool!

I liked "Under No Moon" for its description of a cruise to see Halley's comet in 1986. Not a very successful trip, but quite a metaphor for life.

Feb 18, 2013 Jessie rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this. As before, I appreciate Amy Hempel's minimalist style. I liked the animal aspect of this book for the most part. It was endearing and warm, but it felt less personal in the human sense. Some stories stood out over others, while her first book captured me more completely. As always, she has some truly great lines. I enjoyed it, just not as much as the last.
Aug 29, 2009 Colleen rated it it was amazing
If you're thinking of trying an Amy Hempel book, pick one up and take a look of the picture of her that's on her back covers. Once you get past her teased up 90's hair and how ridiculously beautiful she is, take a good look at her, especially her eyes. If you like what you see, I think you'll like what she writes. To me, they're one and the same.
Aug 06, 2009 Melissa rated it it was ok
One of the forerunners of "dangerous writing," Hempel navigates those moments at which everything changes. When everything was going one way and then goes another way, as William of Heaven would say. It's not as good as I thought it would be, though there is one story, "the most girl part of her," that is excellent.
Griseo Mitran
Jan 02, 2015 Griseo Mitran rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Es que ya tan sólo por La Cosecha merece la pena. El resto de los relatos también valen lo suyo, para mí este libro tiene lo mejor del anterior como base.

Leído ya Tumble Home (el siguiente de la colección), no creo que el último que me queda me guste más que éste.
Feb 25, 2009 Andrew rated it it was amazing
A little targeted towards more in-depth readers, or maybe the fairer sex, but I still remember the ending of the short story about dogs being man's best friend . . . it really did something for me . . . you'll have to read it i wouldnt dare mangle it through paraphrasing.
Apr 08, 2010 David rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I love Amy Hempel's prose, her exactness with her words, as if she were paid for succinctness, the anti-Dickens. If you haven't read any of her work or are a fan of short stories, you'd do yourself a disservice not thumbing through one of her book at the bookstore.
Phil Spinks
Mar 31, 2013 Phil Spinks rated it it was amazing
So, yeah, another Palahniuk recommendation. And is it worth it. About as perfect a collection of short stories as it is possible to get. Everyone should read 'The Harvest' and 'The Rest of God'. Minimalism at its finest.
Feb 01, 2008 M0rfeus rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: general-fiction
A superb collection of short stories. I'm particularly enamored of "Lead Us Not Into Penn Station" (gotta love that title) and, perhaps the best ever ONE PAGE Short Story - "At the Animal Shelter".

Very highly recommended!
Jul 07, 2012 Al rated it liked it
Shelves: 2012-books
Very good short stories. Emphasis on short for a lot of them. I liked them as I was reading them but do not think they will be so memorable. I would definitely try some of her other works to get a clearer opinion on this author.
Nov 22, 2009 Carlos rated it it was amazing
This is the book I keep next to my bed. I havent read any other book quite like this one before. I read and re-read the stories in here before I fall asleep every night. I really, really love this book.
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Dec 25, 2012 b bb bbbb bbbbbbbb rated it it was ok
The Author's second collection of short stories. Not as good as the first. There are places where the tone and phrasing aren't just right or could be better. Although they are still good, there is less magic.
Jun 30, 2010 Scottie rated it it was amazing
Any lover of Palahniuk should read this book. One of the best collections of short stories I've ever read. Her writing style is truly one of a kind. Recommend it for any lover of great writing.
Elisabeth Wallace
Jul 25, 2008 Elisabeth Wallace rated it it was amazing
Amy Hempel is an underappreicated, underread author of stunning short stories. This book is a fascinating and staggering read from the first to the last story.
Apr 19, 2008 Sarah rated it liked it
Recommends it for: animal lovers
Shelves: 2008
Stand out stories include "The Harvest," "To Those of You Who Missed Your Connecting Flights Out of O'Hare," and "Tom-Rock Through the Eels". Amy Hempel = DEPRESSING.
Dec 29, 2007 Amy rated it it was amazing
Shelves: reread
Beautiful stuff. Hempel came to my college in 1991 or 92 and read "The Most Girl Part of You," and since then I've been hooked on her wry, exquisite prose.
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Amy Hempel is an American short story writer, journalist, and university professor at Brooklyn College. Hempel was a former student of Gordon Lish, who eventually helped her publish her first collection of short stories. Hempel has been published in Harper's, Vanity Fair, GQ, and Bomb. She is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, as well as the Ambassador Book Award in 2007, the Rea Award for ...more
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“I exaggerated even before I began to exaggerate, because it's true — nothing is ever quite as bad as it could be.” 33 likes
“A five-hour flight works out to three days and nights on land, by rail, from sea to shining sea.

You can chalk off the hours on the back of the seat ahead. But seventy-some hours will not seem so long to you if you tell yourself first: This is where I am going to be for the rest of my natural life.”
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