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Animal Crackers

3.65  ·  Rating Details ·  555 Ratings  ·  80 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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Nov 13, 2008 Sara rated it liked it
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)
May 15, 2010 Editrix (Amy Lewis) rated it it was ok
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
Glendaliz Camacho
Sep 21, 2015 Glendaliz Camacho rated it really liked it
I love this collection. As a writer, Tinti had me rereading, looking for the seams and asking how did she do that? Highly imaginative stories with moments of discomfort where I had to put the book down (Slim's Last Ride! Goodness) and just an authoritative handling that I totally submitted to.
Courtney Johnson
Feb 24, 2017 Courtney Johnson rated it did not like it
I was thoroughly disappointed in this book. The back promised the stories were, "original and funny" but I thought gruesome and lackluster were more like it. I hated reading about the unnecessary deaths and cruelty of animals. I would not read this book again.
Mar 06, 2017 Kyrie rated it liked it
Shelves: short-stories
Well, that was disturbing. I'd give it four stars for writing - I kept reading, the words drew me in.

I'd give it two for subject matter - the crazy kids in particular made me uptight, and the poor animals.

Would I recommend it? No. Would I read something else by this author? Yes, in hopes it wasn't as upsetting, because she really does have a way with telling a story.
Aug 01, 2009 Joyce rated it really liked it
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
Oct 29, 2008 Aaron rated it it was ok
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
Stephanie Austin
Apr 20, 2011 Stephanie Austin rated it it was amazing
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
Jul 19, 2011 Matt rated it liked it
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
Aug 02, 2011 Scot rated it liked it
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
Jan 17, 2009 Patty rated it liked it
Shelves: readin09
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
Feb 26, 2009 Salwa rated it liked it
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
Sep 19, 2008 Autumn rated it really liked it
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
Brett Starr
Apr 21, 2010 Brett Starr rated it really liked it
"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
Jul 24, 2011 Sally rated it it was ok
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
Josh Cutting
Apr 22, 2008 Josh Cutting rated it it was amazing
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
Dec 22, 2009 Rachel rated it really liked it
Shelves: stories, 2009
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
Randal White
May 07, 2015 Randal White rated it really liked it
Hannah Tinti, in the short story form at least, is a masterly narrator. She has a compelling narrative style, rich and eloquent in substance. The stories are all interesting and keep the readers interest until the end. While the end of some stories are not satisfying, the reader cannot ignore a tale well told. Tinti maintains a consistent "higher" tone throughout all the stories, which at one level suggests some contempt for the situations her characters find themselves in, or at the least that ...more
Cheryl Klein
Jan 09, 2015 Cheryl Klein rated it it was amazing
Hannah Tinti's story collection is a rare beast: a mix of mild absurdity (unionized elephants, a grown man who refuses to tie his shoes) and reality that scrapes along the underside of your soul. Similarly, the animals in question are both literal and metaphorical. The rabbit a troubled boy throws out the window is real and bloody and injured, but the snake a woman cooks and feeds to her ex-boyfriend is an act of turning herself inside out. Our society saves some of its worst violence for animal ...more
Jan 06, 2009 Quiltgranny rated it did not like it
Shelves: abandoned
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
May 29, 2009 Chris rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
May 15, 2012 Heather rated it liked it
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.
Aug 20, 2008 Galo rated it liked it
Shelves: short-fiction
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.
Sep 10, 2008 Bill rated it really liked it
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.
Jun 29, 2008 Elizabeth rated it it was amazing
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.
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.
Apr 19, 2015 Sarah rated it it was ok
Not everybody can write like Raymond Chandler, no matter how hard they try...and boy, does this one ever try hard. Just couldn't feel it and ended up stopping during the first story when the narrator beat the ever-loving crap out of his wife. There are simply too many good books out there to waste time on the mediocre.
Jan 02, 2008 Joe rated it liked it
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.
Benjamin Champagne
Feb 12, 2013 Benjamin Champagne rated it it was amazing
Probably in my top five short story collections i've ever read. All of her stories are mystical but are still set in reality. Only very few veer off into the slipstream ether. They hang in your head like weird dreams. She writes a lot like Flannery O'Conner. Young too, the writing is simple and rich and highly emotional.
Nov 07, 2013 Madeline rated it it was amazing
I bought this book on a complete whim. Just needed something to read on a long bus ride. SO glad I grabbed this one! Each story is as riveting as the one before. There were several points where I wanted to stop reading but I just couldn't. The characters and their situations are beautifully grimy and genuine.
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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, was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year, recipient of the American Library Association's Alex Award, and winner of the Center for ...more
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