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Criers & Kibitzers, Kibitzers & Criers

4.07  ·  Rating Details  ·  89 Ratings  ·  14 Reviews
These nine stories reveal a dazzling variety of styles, tones and subject matter. Among them are some of Stanley Elkin's finest, including the fabulistic "On a Field, Rampant," the farcical "Perlmutter at the East Pole," and the stylized "A Poetics for Bullies." Despite the diversity of their form and matter, each of these stories shares Elkin's nimble, comic, antic imagin ...more
Paperback, 272 pages
Published June 1st 2000 by Dalkey Archive Press (first published January 1st 1966)
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Vit Babenco
May 24, 2015 Vit Babenco rated it it was amazing
Stanley Elkin’s stories are situated at the borderline of realism and postmodernism but he always remains fresh, highly original and scathingly sardonic.
“Would a crier listen to another man’s complaints? Could a kibitzer kid a kidder? But it didn’t mean anything, he thought. Not the jokes, not the grief. It didn’t mean anything. They were like birds making noises in a tree. But try to catch them in a deal. They’d murder you.”
That’s a portrait of modern society.
Guest is the beat generation heroi
“...what I want to say is that he is never a journalist, and that his stories curl your hair, inform your mind, instruct and terrify your heart, and make you laugh and make you wish you knew him and that he would live forever and write more and more and more and more.” – Harold Brodkey on Stanley Elkin
It’s always nice to be reminded that full-blown geniuses can also get manic and gooey about writers with whom they are utterly taken. And Stanley Elkin is precisely the writer with whom you shoul
Jul 26, 2012 Larou added it
Shelves: general-fiction
Sometimes an author who is very obviously right up your alley inexplicably manages to slip underneath your radar, and when you discover him years later you find yourself faced with a huge backlist and gnashing your teeth that you did not come across this astonishing body of work earlier. Stanley Elkin is just such a case for me; by all rights, I should have stumbled over him in the early to mid eighties when I was discovering contemporary American literature for myself and started reading the li ...more
Mar 30, 2007 Dan rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Those who can't read pynchon but would like too

Basicly my recomendation is where it's at.

Now, I haven't finnished all the shorts in this yet, and they are a little long for today's standards, but they hard work has pay off and it isn't as hard as, say, Joyce or pick your fav unreadable author.

there is a story about a mescline adict who is in a house going crazy for a day and it is how those people act. I've lived with them. the kid gets robbed (he's house sitting) and he says, well, they will think I'm worthless, and pitty me, so he robs a
Jun 29, 2011 David rated it really liked it
These are wonderful stories full of the humanness of people just trying to cope with life. Humorous, touching, and all that. They are beautifully and meticulously written. Some stories remind me a bit of Malamud. Regardless, they are stories that are worth the time to be familiar with.
Feb 01, 2009 Michael rated it really liked it
These are some of the most heart wrenching American tales of disease and death and isolation and despair, but at the same time, they burst with life and language that no other author can provide. Critics often label Elkin as a comic writer, but these are not comedies. They are, perhaps, humorous tragedies, certainly not dark comedies, in that hope is lost for any sort of redemption for any character found within. But the stories and the language show so much of the intricacies of the stuff of li ...more
Aug 01, 2009 Christine rated it liked it
Recommends it for: People who understand the meaning of "comitragic", satirists, fabulists
Recommended to Christine by: Michael
Shelves: read-fiction
This was my first experience with Elkin, although I feel like he may have always been circling the sides of my reading lists like a guy at a bar it's too crowded to go and talk to, but you are both wearing the same NPR tote bag.

The thing I was least prepared for was the first title story, which, far from being any fabulist comedy was full of the painful emotions and mundane realism of surviving after a tragedy to get back to the everyday drama of a sinking ship business.

After that first story,
Jul 02, 2015 Mckinley rated it did not like it
Shelves: short-story
Read like period pieces. Didn't like the first one but read on.
Oct 19, 2011 Jonathan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
No other story in this collection quite matches "Push" in style or execution of concept, but there's plenty of humor and jazz to be found in several of the better ones, particularly the closer, which seems less beholden to naturalism than do some of the less exuberant attempts. I'm not sure when Elkin wrote which of these pieces, but the way they're assembled here allows them to gain momentum as the reader pages through.
Leonard Pierce
May 15, 2008 Leonard Pierce rated it liked it
Shelves: short-stories
A collection of short fiction by Stanley Elkin, this is a bit of a mixed bag. A few of these are sort of flat and inchoate, leading me to believe that the long form is really his strength, but in a few of them -- especially "In the Alley" and the hilarious "Perlmutter at the East Pole" -- are as good as anything he's done and show a real grasp of the medium.
Oct 04, 2015 David rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a great collection by Elkin who shines with the darkly comic short. Standouts for me were "I Lookout for Ed Wolfe", "Perlmutter at the East Pole" and "A Poetics for Bullies".
Apr 24, 2011 Bebop2 rated it liked it
Short story collections are a problem to rate. Some deserved 4 but I think overall 3 stars makes sense. This was not as strong as his later novels.
Krok Zero
Apr 14, 2010 Krok Zero rated it liked it
Shelves: spring-2010
Five out of nine ain't bad. Especially when one of those five is "A Poetics for Bullies," one of the best short stories I have read.
Nov 04, 2014 Michael rated it really liked it
It wouldn't kill you to read this book.
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Stanley Lawrence Elkin was a Jewish American novelist, short story writer, and essayist. His extravagant, satirical fiction revolves around American consumerism, popular culture, and male-female relationships.

During his career, Elkin published ten novels, two volumes of novellas, two books of short stories, a collection of essays, and one (unproduced) screenplay. Elkin's work revolves about Americ
More about Stanley Elkin...

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“There’s something comforting, almost soothing, about realism, and it’s nothing to do with shocks of recognition — well it wouldn’t, since shocks never console — or even with the familiarity that breeds content, so as much as with the fact that the realistic world, in literature, at least, is one that, from a certain perspective, always makes sense, even in its bum deals and tragedies, inasmuch as it plays — even showboats and grandstands — to our passion for reason. The realistic tradition presumes to deal, I mean, with cause and effect, with some deep need in readers — in all of us — for justice, with the demand for the explicable reap/sow benefits (or punishments), with the law of just desserts — with all God’s and Nature’s organic bookkeeping. And since form fits and follows function, style is instructed not to make waves but merely to tag along, easy as pie, taking in everything that can be seen along the way but not much more and nothing at all of what isn’t immediately available to the naked eye.” 3 likes
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