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Nice Big American Baby

3.87  ·  Rating Details  ·  530 Ratings  ·  60 Reviews
A blazingly original, profoundly moving new work of fiction by a writer whose world–and imagination–knows no boundaries. “I don’t know what planet Judy Budnitz comes from,” said Newsweek on the publication of her fiction debut, Flying Leap, “but I’m happy to have her. Tremendous . . . funny, dark, adventurous, slanted, and enchanted.” These twelve astonishingly inventive s ...more
ebook, 304 pages
Published December 18th 2007 by Vintage (first published 2005)
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Community Reviews

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Aug 19, 2007 Katie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read "Miracle" in the New Yorker probably four years ago and it's stayed in my mind more than any other short story I've ever read. I'm pretty sure it's perfect. A lot of these stories have that same feeling of strangeness--they put normal people into various sets of surreal (and often suggestive of Big Conditions--social, political, human, etc) circumstances without demanding to be deciphered or running full-on into heavy-handed symbolism or allegory. Hooray for residing in mystery!
Laura Grunberger
This is absolutely phenomenal. Great short stories, reminiscent of George Saunders: surreal and creepy and very moving all at once. Blew me away.
Jul 11, 2009 Nicole rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
These stories present a world to us that is almost familiar, but twist that familiarity by adding some surreal element. A pregnant girl gestates for years while attempting to cross from Mexico into America so the child can be an American baby, a white couple give birth to a black child ("His skin has the solid, inorganic sheen of obsidian, an iridescence like oil"), daughters stand in for their frightened mother's mammogram appointments, a wartime doctor plants and cultivates a field of amputate ...more
Sep 19, 2008 Trena rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I will not blame this book for the security guard at the library who, when he saw its title, asked if "somebody" was expecting. Hmph. I teetered between 3 and 4 stars but at the end I think it earned the fourth star. Budnitz's magical realism is an interesting twist on the genre, which is generally associated with Latino/Chicano writers. The first (and title) story is a nod to these roots, but the stories branch out from there. The short stories are a good length--long enough to develop characte ...more
Jun 16, 2010 Marie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Absolutely brilliant.
I would have never known about this author, but the title of the book was interesting so I picked it off the shelf, fully thinking I would put it back after a few seconds. But the reviews were enough to make me take the book home.
All of them were well deserved. Judy Budnitz is a wonderful writer with an imagination that simply defies comprehension at times. Each of her short story was a world of its own, complete and wonderful or horrible, frightening or full of tenderness
Apr 28, 2011 Bonnie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Usually short stories disappoint me by being too weird or I don't even understand them or most are of a topic so tragic or sad that the author wouldn't want to write a whole book about it. (My opinion only). And usually books of short stories are not page turners for me, well...these short stories are page turners and pull you right into them.

Ms. Budnitz is so very talented that even if she writes a weird story it's still so good you're glad you read it. Now that I"ve finished this book I've r
pani Katarzyna
Oh my, she depresses me like no other. It felt just like reading 'If I Told You Once' - compelling and strangely saddening, as if someone kept thrusting thorns into my skin and at first I do not even realize it. But once I do realize it, it hurts like hell.

I like prose that hurts. It makes me feel alive - battered, and cut up, but alive.
Apr 06, 2008 Will rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What an amazing collection of stories! Funny and odd, compelling and though-provoking. Each story harbors a seemingly usual circumstance, but then Budnitz twists them and they become perverse - in the best possible way. Because that perversity, however slight or extreme, makes you reconsider your expectations.
May 18, 2008 Cathy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Loved these hilarious, biting stories! Well, actually, they ranged from light and witty to heavier and more telling of our current culture. They were so well done. So clever, original, such neat ideas and ways of expressing issues. I laughed out loud at some of the outlandish tales. Very sharp writer.
Jul 03, 2008 Cortney rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Brave, weird, wild stories that occilate between the hyper-real and surreal. Even the moments when a story seems to miss a mark slightly get made up for in the sheer boldness of the writing. I want to be Judy Budniz when I grow up.
May 12, 2015 Brian rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: female
Why do stories that are 20 pages feel longer than whole books sometimes? That's how this was for me. I liked the stories, but I kept checking to see if I was almost done them while still in the middle.
Jun 24, 2007 Nicole rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
i loved most of the stories, but "immersion" really stands out. it gives a really powerful treatment to sisterhood, childhood, polio, racism, and definitely to language. really gorgeous and memorable.
Kat Lynch
Dec 21, 2010 Kat Lynch rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Engrossing stories. Budnitz is very good at rendering characters realistically unlikeable, while keeping them interesting enough to follow. Weird, fantastical plots with a good dose of dark humor.
Christy Stewart
It annoys me that the pieces have such strong beginings and weak ends. It's a buzz kill.
Jul 23, 2011 Kurt rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love Flying Leap, an earlier collection of Judy Budnitz stories, and while this book doesn't hit quite the same heights as its predecessor, it still has many of the same strengths and is worth a read. Most of the stories have a certain magical realism to them, like the title story, in which a woman refuses to give birth for years because she insists on crossing the border and having a nice big American baby, and they generally work well. There is also a lot of humor, especially in a story that ...more
Jun 16, 2007 Christy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: shortstories
Favorite Stories (The * marks my two absolute favorite):

Flush - A daughter takes her resistant mother to the doctor's for a mammogram. This story showcases one of the recurring themes in this book, that of the role reversal that occurs when children become adults and their parents become like children again.

Visitors - A daughter waiting at her home for her parents to arrive on a visit keeps receiving increasingly bizarre phone calls from her mother as their trip progresses.

*Saving Face - In a to
Feb 23, 2011 Leanna rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This collection of short stories, published in 2005, mixes the domestic with the magical, the ordinary with the surreal, etc. Often the premise of a story was more interesting to me than the execution. There are some very original ideas here--a pregnant border-crosser decides to carry the baby until she can give birth on American soil, so she ends up being pregnant for four years; a family traps and keeps salesmen in a pen for slaughter; female friends form a dangerous malice towards the mail-or ...more
Ann Douglas
I have a new author to add to my list of favorite short story authors -- Judy Budnitz. Her stories are brave, dystopian, and funny -- an irresistible combo.

I particularly loved "Saving Face," which is all about unthinking allegiance to a political leader. Here are a few quotes from this brilliant shorty story, which I will be returning to again and again:

"What's your dad do? I said. Designs new and better wings for new and better sing nuts, he said proudly. It sounded like he was repeating some
Jul 08, 2015 Adrienne rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wonderfully bizarre stories that made me wish I wrote fiction. My favorite, The Visitor, features a young woman preparing for her parents visit with a new boyfriend she's not sure she's totally impressed with. That narrative is interspersed with phone calls from her mom as the two parents get further and further from the woman's home under increasingly strange circumstances.
Nov 10, 2015 Katika rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent stories! Sharp and deep. I felt engaged and forced to think, which is exactly what I look for in good literature. Judy Budnitz merges typical situations with great imagination. Her stories remind me of Margaret Atwood books and this is quite a compliment for a young writer.
Feb 28, 2014 Lisa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is an astounding collection of stories, each of them dark and a little fantastical. If you're not in the mood for something a little macabre, don't bother, but there's a lot to chew on all the way through the book. The best comparison I can draw is to Shirley Jackson's 'The Lottery', which I also thought was brilliant.
Dec 11, 2007 Sigi rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Some crap in here, but a lot of good stuff too. Her use of potentially pedestrian themes (the compromises women make to find men and the compromises of being in a relationship with them)with a morbid twist is both provoking and creepy (Joyce Carol Oates with a quasi-Stephen King-speak). The strongest stories are those where the weirdness of the situation is balanced by the emotional plausibility of her characters. Like the two daughters who substitute for their mother in a breast-cancer scan or ...more
Lori Weir
Dec 27, 2012 Lori Weir rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a very good collection of short stories. The settings and themes vary, but each has at least some element of magical realism. Many of them are strange and unsettling. Many of them are sad.

Budnitz writes beautifully. Her writing is filled with interesting images, and yet she never forgets her characters and plots. These stories are rich but not dense.

Budnitz has a gift for language and understanding people.

If you can not sit down and read the entire collection, I strongly recommend the
Jun 06, 2013 Anna rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have read this collection countless times and honestly it just does not get old. Each time I read it I find a new easter egg hidden in it. You must reread it and look for single words that repeat and tie everything together. If my copy were not loaned out to a friend I would go into greater detail. Judy Budnitz is a magician with words and I have yet to find something that even comes close to this collection. It is pure taffy for the brain if you are present for all it has to offer.
Aug 21, 2011 Jess rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
even though this author is kinda one-trick, i liked the trick, so i thought the stories were mostly entertaining.
basically the lesson of every story is that paternalistic people are awful, and that the worst thing is that they wreck other peoples lives and then claim its for their own good. that's a really good lesson to say a lot and you don't see much literature about it.
the main problem was that i never felt moved to care about any of the characters
Maneki Neko
Sep 02, 2014 Maneki Neko rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
These stories are really weird and wonderful; they leave you wondering. My personal favorite is "Miracle." I love Budnitz' style and how she crafts these moving, unnerving stories with no logical explanation. I'm a fan. She covers a lot of territory in one book: from repeatedly to illegally immigrate into America to hate-liking/attempting murder of your ex-boyfriend's new mail order bride, there's something for everyone here. I'm sold.
Latanya Mcqueen
Dec 29, 2009 Latanya Mcqueen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of Aimee Bender, Miranda July, McSweeney's authors.
The stories where Budnitz focuses more on character, like Immersion, Nadia, and Flush are particularly worth reading. Some of the others, which either lack character or plot/conflict development, like the story Visitors for example, or are too dependent on their quirky conceits to tell a narrative story.
This short story collection is a chamber of horrors, although I couldn't put it down. Didn't like the first two stories at all, but was grabbed by the third, and after that found much to like. Budnitz is incredibly imaginative, sometimes darkly funny. She writes as if channeling dreams or nightmares.
Schrullige Kurzgeschichten, mit einem fein verschmitzten, intelligenten Hang zum Beunruhigenden. Trotz der Unebenheit - einige der erst hier vorgeführten Gesichten kamen mir noch nicht reif vor - Höhepünkte wie Vorbereitet Sein (vermutlich von Ronald Reagan inspiziert) verdienen Respekt.
Jul 26, 2008 Emily rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Despite the fact that I still have one and a half stories to finish, I have no reservations about highly recommending this book of short stories. The stories are bizarre and absurd but have roots in reality to keep the characters relatable rather than off-putting.
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Judy Budnitz was born in 1973 and grew up in Atlanta, Georgia. She graduated from Harvard in 1995, and recieved an MFA in creative writing from New York University in 1998.
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“You have to stop this. I don't want to lose you too. If you have to make a revolution, Make a small revolution.” 4 likes
“Couldn't help it, he insisted. My dad would bell me to draw a flower and it would turn into a Venus flytrap chewing on a hand.” 2 likes
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