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Animal Crackers
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Animal Crackers

3.68 of 5 stars 3.68  ·  rating details  ·  510 ratings  ·  77 reviews
With bravura storytelling, daring imagination, and fierce narrative control, this dazzling debut introduces that rare writer who finds humanity in our most unconventional behavior, and the humor beneath our darkest impulses.

In these ten strange, funny, and unnerving stories, animals become the litmus test of our deepest fears and longings. In the title story, an elephant k
Paperback, 208 pages
Published March 1st 2005 by Delta (first published January 1st 2004)
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This book was hard for me-- I admit I only read the first five or six stories and then returned it to the library. The writing is excellent and unusual but every story involves a gruesome death, either human or animal, and I was having nightmares. (It didn't help that I was reading a story before going to bed.)

Doesn't it seem like stories are much more likely to be disturbing than novels? Once you're in a novel, you have some expectation of whether, in the next 25 pages, something will occur tha
Editrix (Amy Lewis)
I wanted to like this more than I did. I found the characters and stories flat and unappealing, and while I'm not terribly squeamish, some of the callous violence (especially toward animals) was repulsive and (at times) gratuitous.

The only humorous bit was the list of demands from three giraffes to their zookeeper. I kept hoping for more of the wit and humor promised on the book's back cover, but none of the "humour beneath our darkest impulses" was apparent to me.

The Author's Note following the
I think this book is really good. Rifka and her family escaped from Russia to America. But when they were in Poland buying the tickets to America. The doctor discovered that she had ringworm on her head. So she need to go to Belgium to cure her illness. Finally she went to Ellis island and entered the America. I think the title fit the story because in the book rifka was writing the letters to her beloved cousin, Tovah. So the title is call Letters from Rifka.
When reading the acknowledgments at the back (and this means I must like a book, for me to read the acknowledgments), I saw A.M. Homes included in Tinti's list of teachers and I thought, "OF COURSE. I EFFIN LOVE A.M. HOMES." There's a lightly grim touch to all the stories in this collection, the very best of which ("Animal Crackers," "Talk Turkey") leave emotional contusions to go along with the quick cuts.

1.) "Animal Crackers" - a worthy title story and the most fully realized in terms of anim
This book is a quick read - the author is very clear and her storytelling flows well, I didn't love this book however as I felt all the stories fell short. You could see where she was going with them but they didn't quite get there. I think Tinti certainly has a lot of potential, her stories were a bit like an amateur attempt at Patricia Highsmith - dark, disturbing morality tales. I think if she develops her stories a little bit more she has the makings of an excellent writer. I would like to t ...more
Brett Starr
"Animal Crackers" is a collection of short stories written by Hannah Tinti, author of "The Good Thief". This collection has 11 tales.

I read this book for one reason, The Good Thief: A Novel is a great book. "Animal Crackers" was Tinti's debut book and I wanted to be able to say I've read all her work.

This collection won't knock you off your feet, but it does have it's gems:

Preservation - Mary the daughter of a well-known artist, is restoring dioramas in a natural history museum & is haunt
A good set of short stories that loosely are tied together by animals that appear in them mostly as plot devices, rarely though sometimes taking center stage. The animals range from a dog in "Home Sweet Home" that only appears as a prop feeding on cereal that has been spilled by a man who has been murdered to a stuffed bear at a natural history museum in the story "Preservation" that appears to come to life to a young woman who is painting backgrounds for exhibits while also taking care of her a ...more
I loved The Good Thief so much I decided to read Tinti's short story collection too. It's interesting to feel that you've seen a writer grow from book to book. Even though I read these in the reverse order you can really see her development. The stories feature really interesting and well drawn characters and great timing when things go from mostly normal to very very strange, but the stories aren't carried off as well as her novel is. Part of this is the genre. It's much more acceptable to have ...more
Stephanie Austin
I love Hannah Tinti. I love One Story. I love her on Selected Shorts. I loved this collection. I read every story, and every story was super good. Sometimes story collections have one or two duds that piss me off. Like, they stop me in the reading. "Home Sweet Home" was probably my favorite. A couple gets murdered and then you find out about an affair and a wayward child and it kind of makes sense. The animal violence kind of got to me. I'm the person who reads labels looking for NO ANIMAL TESTI ...more
This is a solid and satisfying collection of stories, though I think maybe they aren't flattered by being grouped together in a collection-- when you read a couple of them at a time, you see two things: first, that they all employ the same gambit, to rush a large cast of arbitrary eccentrics onto the stage for our enjoyment, and then, more damningly, that these stories, as near as I can tell, aren't about anything. I don't mean something as crass as to say that stories should be about human traf ...more
It has taken me a couple of days to decide how I felt about this book. When you have to pick how many stars and what that means, you have to make a decision and live with. I'm such a wimp! I chose the middle star. Most of the stories were provocatively strange but about half where strangly strange. Don't read this book if you are squemish!

I always wonder 'when' in the author's life did they write those particular stories. It would be fun to know.

I was expecting more after reading "The Good Thie
The book is a collection of stories by an incredibly talented writer. These eleven stories ostensibly center around a consistent theme: animals becoming a litmus test of sorts for human fears and longings.

The writer herself is quite talented. But a second reading revealed that she might use six-degrees-of-separation tricks among her characters a little too often. She also has a tendency to cheat a little with her theme. A few of these stories don't seem to use the animal in question to support
There was some good buzz regarding Hannah Tinti's first novel, 'The Good Thief.' A young woman who hails from Salem, Massachusetts, telling a tale of a one-handed figure with words like 'gothic' and 'spooky' being used to describe her writing. And it was almost Halloween! I decided to show some reserve and start with these short stories, her first major published work, which I don't usually have the courage to do. I hoped they'd be spooky too.

All the stories revolved around animal themes--some
Her language is lovely, but her topics are dark and much so that I felt uncomfortable and shocked at some of short stories' content. There may be one of two of the stories I may recommend, but this isn't a book I'm going to praise to everyone I meet. Most likely, it will never be mentioned. You have been forewarned.
Josh Cutting
I am always a sucker for short stories, and this collection is surreal and touching, beautiful and bizarre all at once. (It doesn't hurt that Hannah Tinti is HOT!)

I had forgotten how good these stories really are. Tinti has such a confident hand and sure writing style. She just boldy charges into these stories, and dares you to try to keep up. Nothing is spelled out, nothing is certain, nothing is explained, and yet everything is. In two sparse lines, she say so much about the character i
Gina Whitlock
I didn't care for this book at all as her animal abuse stories made me queasy. I think she's just going for shock value knowing that it gets mistaken for talent in today's world.
This first person narrative details the complex processes of a Jewish family's escape from Russia to a new life in the USA in the early twentieth century. Twelve year old Rifka's journey is interrupted when she is discovered to have ringworm, from which she must recover before being considered to be allowed to rejoin her family. Letters written to her cousin who is still in Russia provide the narrative. It seems that this version of the novel, in reviews on this page has been confused with anoth ...more
What's so impressive about this collection is Tinti's range - she captures completely the voices of so many characters, an impressive, all-encompassing cast. Others have remarked on the brutality in this, but truthfully, it's one of my favorite aspects of the whole thing. "Slim's Last Ride" and "Bloodworks" both detail children's violence towards pets, but the stories aren't mirror images. The few stories that acted as accounts, heavy on telling and light on scene, tended to lose me (Hitman of t ...more
With the exception of Amy Hempel, I don't think I've ever given five stars to a collection of short stories. Usually, there are too many misses for me to go above three stars. But there was something about Tinti's writing that allowed me to forgive/gloss over the shortcomings.

These stories are bizarre in the best kind of way. Tinti's sense of humor is wonderful, and her created worlds turn "reality" on its head just enough for anything and everything to happen.

Seriously, good and fresh stuff. I
The only good thing about this book was the cover art and the title. A collection of weird short stories either "written" by animals, or concerning animals. Someone else wrote a review that they thought they should throw the book away for fear that someone might think it was a primer on how to abuse animals...I think I agree that the book should be thrown away, it is THAT bad!

I did give it a chance of about 35% of the book, and it seemed as if it was going nowhere, so now it is on a recycle list
I liked a lot of these short stories individually. I think that, as a collection, it was kind of repetitive - only a few of the stories were so very different from each other to stand out, and Tinti's voice is so incredibly unique that it's hard to read so many stories one after the other in that unique voice. It somehow makes them seem less unique, beside each other. And I took a year to read the, yeah. I was thinking I would like it much more when I started out, actually.
This book is really interesting bescause it tells me how Rifka felt during the journey to America. And I think this book reminds me of number the stars because in the book number the stars Annemaries friend Ellen is jewish too. I think that the message of this book is to follow your dreams and to believe in it. I know this because Rifka had a dream to go to America and she made it to America afterall. I will recomend this book to ages 9 and up because this book has alot of scary situations.
A very unusual short story collection. Each story has at least one animal in a significant role, but the stories aren't really about the animals at all. They are essentially short but rather intense studies of human beings and their bizarre behaviors and complicated relationships. All of these stories are also somewhat dark and feature some really surprising, sometimes downright shocking developments. They are really unlike anything else I've read, and I very much enjoyed them.
Self-absorbed and apathetic characters wander aimlessly in-and-out of a limbo world of Hannah Tinti’s phantasmagorical and fatalistic design, weakly linked by the uneven appearance of animals who serve to be no more than a storytelling device. What keeps the reader engaged is the author’s powerful imagination and genuine storytelling ability. Stories worth reading: Home Sweet Home, Preservation, Hit Man of the Year, Talk Turkey, and How to Revitalize the Snake in your Life.
Ian Drew Forsyth
Not as good as Leni Zumas's Farewell Navigator, if these books are to be compared between young women quirky short story writers, "quirky" not meaning to trivialize their styles which i greatly admire.
The Giraffe story is hilarious. The national museum and artist father I saw as the emotional heart of the collection. The last story about the boarding school young women escaping to africa was a great fantastical and enthusiastic story to end it.
Jun 29, 2008 Elizabeth rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: those who like George Saunders & Kelly Link
I just had the privilege of hearing Hannah read at a writers' conference; not only is she is brilliant writer of the grotesque, macabre, and surreal, but she is a down-to-earth person who simply loves language. I had to stop myself from reading this book at 1:30 am just so I could save it for later; like a forbidden snack, Tinti's work is best enjoyed alone. This book is a delight in every possible way.
Very engaging and easy to get lost in. Each story, individually, would have made a great novel. These were different from the type of stories I usually read. They were edgy and took a lot of risks, including dabbling with fantasy (although I guess it's up to the reader to decide if the fantastical is insanity or not). Very good for a young writer. I'll keep an eye out for more from her.
Sep 04, 2008 Phyllis rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: no one
Recommended to Phyllis by: book of the month
Hannah Tinti is the Damien Hirst of the literary world. Imaginative and talented, she lacks heart. No doubt she was a hit in some MFA program with material like this. I almost threw this away fearing some marginal person would find it at the thrift store and get ideas for animal abuse from it. Sorry, I just hated it, but I did felt compelled to finish it. Thus two stars, not one.
After reading this collection of short stories, I am now a lifelong fan of Hannah Tinti. The stories are beautifully written. I read the author's novel, "The Good Thief," after reading this collection, and one can see the author finding her voice within these stories. I found the collection thought-provoking and satisfying. I look forward to future work from Ms. Tinti.
Th only story I could remember in this collection of animal themed short stories is the somewhat hillarious tale of the giraffes at the zoo who decide to go on strike by laying down and pretending they're dead. Outside of that, I couldn't even tell you about the other stories because they just didn't stick out or were interesting enough to remember once I put the book down.
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Hannah Tinti grew up in Salem, Massachusetts, and is co-founder and editor-in-chief of One Story magazine. Her short story collection, Animal Crackers, has sold in sixteen countries and was a runner-up for the PEN/Hemingway award. Her first novel, The Good Thief, is published by The Dial Press (US) and Headline (UK). The Good Thief is a New York Times Notable Book of the Year, recipient of the Ame ...more
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