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Black Tickets: Stories

4.02  ·  Rating Details ·  890 Ratings  ·  74 Reviews
Jayne Anne Phillips's reputation-making debut collection paved the way for a new generation of writers. Raved about by reviewers and embraced by the likes of Raymond Carver, Frank Conroy, Annie Dillard, and Nadine Gordimer, Black Tickets now stands as a classic.

With an uncanny ability to depict the lives of men and women who rarely register in American literature, Phillips
Paperback, 288 pages
Published September 11th 2001 by Vintage (first published 1979)
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...the girl half dazed on sidewalk falls over, lays down like she’s home.

Black Tickets is a book of startling confessions, refuted sins and daring apathy. It’s beautiful, unsettling and reckless. It’s an acerbic masterpiece which recoils at the thought of refinement and perfection. It belongs to a different world- a world of cheap motels and flickering neon lights, of broken homes and failed road trips, of stifling love and unfathomable desire. It’s like a foreign movie that seeks stories in clo
Jan 14, 2011 Teresa rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ground-breaking, brilliant, masterful.

I'm sure many writers have been inspired by the stories in this collection. Phillips published these stories in the 70's, the style of which now seem to be all over the internet. I have to admit that there were two stories that befuddled me at their ends (as a lot of these short-short stories in general seem to do to me) but I still think that's my lack of perception and not the author's fault.

Two of the stories also seem to have the same female lead charact
Jan 30, 2009 Metaxy99 rated it it was amazing
If someone asked me to describe Flannery O'Connor as music, I'd refer them to classic blues and hard-edged folk like Son House and Leadbelly and early Dylan.

If someone asked me to describe Jayne Anne Phillips' Black Tickets as music, I'd sit her down with a playlist that included a narrow band of blues/post-blues tunes infused with rock and punk, like Peter Green's Fleetwood Mac doing I Loved Another Woman , Catpower singing Robert Johnson's Come on in My Kitchen , PJ Harvey doing Dylan's Highw
Jul 18, 2011 tee rated it it was amazing
I live to find books like this. I don't know what I want to do with my life other than find those books that make you vibrate with excitement - this was one of those books. Sometimes it feels like I'll never find another book that hits me hard, ever again and then I do and my faith is restored. The only reason I want to live to be old, old, old is so that I might find every good book in the world and experience what I felt with reading this, it was amazing.

Some of the stories lost me but I think
Richard Thomas
Mar 18, 2011 Richard Thomas rated it it was amazing
So thrilled to have found JAP. She certainly gives Mary Gaitskill a run for her money. Dark, sexy, surreal stories, this was a real joy to read. Also, this must have been some of the first flash fiction, back in 1975. Great collection, off to read more of her work.
Laura Toto
Jan 30, 2010 Laura Toto rated it it was amazing
If anyone is interested where poetry meets prose, this is where it begins. Astonishingly forward and musical. The beat, the hum of her writing, it is like the beating of one's heart.
Jul 06, 2011 David rated it it was amazing
Ok. another rule-breaker.. read this one AGES ago, but I just added Christie Malry's Own Double entry, because it was one of the few books that made me laugh out loud (and to cry as well), and on that flip side, I add, Jayne Anne Phillips's short story collection, Black Tickets.
As the book-track of my life goes this is a huge milestone. As I recall, I stumbled upon this as a junior in high school, i think I had just gone to a reading by Harlan Ellison (who! a story for another time!), and there
Lynne Favreau
Oct 04, 2016 Lynne Favreau rated it liked it
Jayne Anne Phillip’s collection of short stories Black Tickets were touted as “original” and “the best since Eudora Welty” and “early genius” upon first publication in 1979.

In 2008, I didn’t find them to be all that compelling or original, but that may be a sign of the times. I just don’t believe that if these were published today for the first time they’d inspire the same accolades. And isn't that the test of a classic, standing the test of time?

The use of shock and rawness as a literary devic
May 06, 2016 Robert rated it liked it
This is her first collection. With early stories, there's a sense of adventurousness--but there can also be pretense and self-indulgence. Some of the stories are so oblique and almost intentionally confusing that I found myself wishing a given story would end. The technique is hit and miss. Phillips often writes about sex--the dirtier and sleazier the better. There are no cotillions or country clubs in these stories; they're all set in the worst parts of the worst towns. I like that.

What I don'
This collection walks a tightrope wire of dense, lyrically visceral prose. As such, it is a bit uneven. Certain stories sing with a meld of memory and present, others seem too unmoored. Many of the stories are so brief that they seem to be portraits: a quick, charcoal sketch, drawn in furious haste. I have mixed feelings on whether or not they are successful.

Still, I give this collection 4 stars because when it works, it really works, and I found myself provoked and challenged, even by the lesse
May 28, 2008 Owen rated it really liked it
Great collection of short stories that exhibit impressive economy. Sparse punctuation, no quotes, plenty of fragments. Often stories lasted no more than a three paragraphs over two pages. A must-read for any one interested in the art of conveying more with less.
Sep 03, 2009 Patrice rated it really liked it
Hard, hard short stories written by a native West Virginian. They speak to the lives of our most disenfranchised and they are disturbing. I will probably re-read at some point because I could sense an arc to the stories that may merit further exploration.
Apr 10, 2012 Adam rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
Some excellent, gritty short stories, that, unfortunately, tend to blur together a bit. "Snow" is possibly one of my top ten short stories of all time. Of all time.
Apr 24, 2016 Scott rated it liked it
I feel a little bad about giving this book only three stars, but it suffers from something which almost all single-author collections of short stories suffer from: reading so many stories consecutively by the same author saturates the ear and causes the authorial voice to become repetitive.

Jane Anne Phillips loves certain descriptive formulations: [body part] under [cloth type]; something that has nothing to do with sex called sexual; the sun is something else (moon, a ring, bees); light does so
Ryan Werner
Oct 05, 2015 Ryan Werner rated it it was ok
Aside from "1934" and "El Paso" (which I add begrudgingly, as it did almost the same thing as "1934" except poorly), Black Tickets is a series of eye-rolling, "look at me using the word 'cunt' in the 70's" imagery stacked up on top of itself for no apparent reason. When Phillips can avoid talking about licking someone's thighs or wafting in the stars or grinding inside another being, she's not a bad writer. However, even when those moments come about, she more often than not ends up falling into ...more
Jan 31, 2014 Laura rated it it was amazing
I got this off some essential reading list from either WSJ or 'New York' Magazine. . .it completely blew me away. Her writing is just amazing - very descriptive, almost poetic but very dark at the same time.

These are thematically linked short stories and vignettes; a look into the lives of those going through some (generally dark or less pleasant) transformation. Yet most of them are hopeful, and she's a really great storyteller.

This is a really great read; I'd say it should be on college readin
Oct 13, 2013 Ellen rated it really liked it
Shelves: thesis-research
The first half of this was slow-going for me (aside from "Home"); and I struggled with what sort of rating to give this book.
With some of the stories ("Lechery," "Black Tickets," "El Paso," and many of the short-shorts) a lot of the action seemed buried under names and weirdness and poetry; I've seen this done in more recent collections as well, but somehow better?
However, things did improve later on, "Gemcrack" was written in the same style as the aforementioned stories but the elements came
Dec 19, 2008 Tara rated it it was amazing
I'm embarrassed to say I had not read the complete book before, just the shorter stories in various anthologies. While I had always enjoyed her brief ones, I was blown away by the longer ones. I can only imagine why this book is not taught more in Lit classes, perhaps because of the very gritty content, but it should be. It's a real lesson on what can be done with the English language and with narrative voice. I was less entranced by the title story than by some of the others, such as Country. ...more
Wow, did not live up to the hype. Made it 3/4 of the way through. A very quick read, could easily be finished in a day. Phillips' style of writing.... has no style. It's overly clipped and simple, but not in an evocative way like Hemingway. Her subject matter is often fairly provocative in an "every day life" type of way, but I was not generally engaged by the stories, with the exception of one or two. Pretty average.
Dec 03, 2015 Bridget rated it did not like it
Books don't just consist of words on a page, every reader brings their own life stories, perceptions and context to every book they read. That may be why I did not enjoy "Black Tickets". I was reading these short stories in various doctors offices, E.R.s and hospital rooms. I don't recommend this as hospital reading. It's dark. Even I could see that the author does a good job with parent/grown child relationships, and certain stories were strong, but the rest felt like swimming in mud.
Jun 30, 2015 Kweigle rated it liked it
I likes the stories although they were quite dark and the themes throughout the book were, to be honest, pretty vulgar and sick. This was juxtaposed with such an emotionally removed, almost detached and matter-of-fact, narration that the stories were interesting to read.

However, I realize in reading this that I am not a short story person. I'm always left wanting to know more and am not satisfied with leaving it to my imagination. I like novels. That's why this
Dec 15, 2015 Ron rated it did not like it
Abysmal. After having read the great writers who concerned themselves honestly--one looks at the photos of Phillips and cannot believe she has ever taken a drug or fallen into any other dissolute behavior--with such tales, her writing seems dishonest, boring, and there is no real point to any of it.
It is painful to read, not because of what is portrayed, but because it rings hollow and the writing is terrible.
Jan 08, 2015 Claire rated it really liked it
Her language is so lush, so exquisite. In some of the early stories in this collection, the language seems to dominate; the voices of the characters from one story to the next were not clearly demarcated. In the best of these stories, though, the language opens us up to worlds and characters who are socially marginalized. And her flash fictions that punctuate the longer stories are some of the best in the collection.
Oct 08, 2014 Naomi rated it it was amazing
I love Jayne Anne Phillips. Reading her work is like entering a dream. You forget to breathe. You read sentences over and over for their beauty. With surgical precision Phillips exposes the underbelly of life in these stories. They are not romantic. The characters are not heroic. There are no neat endings. The stories in BLACK TICKETS just quietly burn. They are disturbing but brilliantly so. They will stay under your skin.
Jun 08, 2012 Floyd rated it it was amazing
A dazzling first story collection, shocking when it was published. Not all of the stories have stood the test of time (some of them are mere vignettes, others are poetic narrative exercises that fail to gel into something complete)but the best of them are the unmistakeable work of a bold young artist trying her range.
May 04, 2014 Lucynell rated it it was ok
Disappointing. Vague and ineffective. It seems like a case of style over substance. Style's not particularly engrossing either. It was highly praised on its publication but it just didn't do anything for me. Two stories though standout. Lechery and Stripper are rough cut diamonds. Lush and bleak and very lonely in this collection's mediocre company.
Megan Jones
Mar 21, 2014 Megan Jones rated it really liked it
This was recommended to me by my mentor after telling her I liked dark stories, and Joyce Carol Oates. Her suggestion was spot on - I loved the subtle darkness within each story and the original formatting. Because l actually finished this book over a month ago, I can't remember the specifics I wanted to write in my review. I just remember thoroughly enjoying this work!
Erica Freeman
Oct 05, 2007 Erica Freeman rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites

Phillips is one of the authors I looked to when developing my portfolio of creative writing for my undergrad thesis; and this is one of the books that helped my shape my love of short stories, prose pieces and paragraphs.

Her style completely drew me in...her subject matter reminds me of Oates...what is real and unfortunate about being human.
Mar 25, 2016 Sarah rated it liked it
Fascinating use of language in this collection. Good for setting tones, moods: nostalgia, torment, obsession. Yet I found many of the stories wanting, too disjointed sometimes, many short of a "real" ending.
Mar 19, 2009 Bobby rated it liked it
I really liked some stories, but couldn't get into others. Stylistically, it was inconsistent, and I was turned off when the stories read more like dense poetry than prose. I was also not so enamored with the brief, one or two page portraits interspersed throughout the book.
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Jayne Anne Phillips is an American novelist and short story writer. Phillips graduated from West Virginia University, earning a B.A. in 1974, and later graduated from the Iowa Writers' Workshop at the University of Iowa.

Phillips has held teaching positions at several colleges and universities, including Harvard University, Williams College, and Boston University. She is currently Professor of Engl
More about Jayne Anne Phillips...

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“I love you the way I love nightmare, secrets coming up like smoke through a grid, the way I love mirrors shattered but still whole, reflecting the foolish image in a hundred lit-up fragments. No one else could take me, pay my way with what your skin knows.” 0 likes
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