Night Soul and Other Stories
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Night Soul and Other Stories

4.06 of 5 stars 4.06  ·  rating details  ·  64 ratings  ·  17 reviews
Best known for his complex and beautiful novels—regularly compared to those of Thomas Pynchon, William Gaddis, and Don DeLillo—Joseph McElroy is equally at home in the short story, having written numerous pieces over the course of his career that now, collected at last, serve as an ideal introduction to one of the most important contemporary American authors. Combining ele...more
Paperback, 304 pages
Published January 11th 2011 by Dalkey Archive Press (first published January 3rd 2011)
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Oct 25, 2012 s.penkevich rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Nathan "N.R." Gaddis
Recommended to s.penkevich by: Nathan "N.R." Gaddis
Shelves: po-mo, short-story, dalkey
Water is always water – above, below, in flood, trickle, rapid or sea, but the traces we leave in it last like our changing thoughts.

Joseph McElroy, best known for his sprawling novels such as Women and Men or Lookout Cartridge, evinces an equally impressive prowess with his short game in Night Soul and Other Stories. The twelve stories, collected from the past three decades¹, demonstrate his versatility as an author and philosophical investigator as he deals with topics ranging from politics,...more
Stephen P
This was a difficult read. But why? Without typical punctuation, unpredictable shifts in subject, object , paragraphs rising out of constellations, time swerving in irregular paths, the shifting of the floor beneath one's feet, I was drained. At first I sweated out who was talking to who, why, what about and what happened . I am a lover of Bernhard, Wallace, Hamsun. I do not believe McElroy's writing is experimental. It is written out of his genius or years of perfecting his craft or both. It is...more
My first McElroy. I'd rather dip my toe with the short stories rather than drown in Women and Men.

The thing that most struck me about these stories was their ephemeral, dream-like quality, a constant shifting of details yet you're absorbed in them. Many people go without names or are only introduced later. "On the Campaign Trail", an imagined tryst between Barack and Hillary, mentions no names.

The one 'omission' is that these stories had no previous publishing information, but they all seemed re...more
Nathan "N.R." Gaddis

Excerpt from Night Soul and Other Stories, the story “No Man’s Land.”

Audio interview with McElroy by Micahel Silverblatt regarding the publication of Night Soul and Other Stories.

An essay by Flore Chevaillier from the Electronic Book Review, "Weight Inward into Lightness: A Reading of Canoe Repair."

Stephen Burn review at NYT Sunday Book Review.
Topological Fiction
Stephen Burn
January 28, 2011

“There’s a problem with the way Joseph McElroy’s fiction reaches th...more
Paul Gleason
Let me begin by saying that no one is going to "Like" this review. (Click "Like"! I dare you!). This is because I never know what to "do" with a McElroy book once I've finished reading it. Moreover, I've published on him and communicated with him personally, but his books always confuse and perplex me. In some cases, I literally need years to digest his work.

Night Soul presents a new challenge for any McElroy reader. It's a collection of short stories written by a man known for his experimental...more
Literary Review The
By Jeff Bursey

For The Literary Review
Volume 54 "Emo, Meet Hole"

Night Soul and Other Stories displays how Joseph McElroy explores what connects
people, states of being and things—“The lake was part of the canoe . . . ” (“Canoe
Repair”)—and how this approach, present in his novels too, and perhaps the only
way to do justice to such entanglements, starts with re-imagining sentences from
the ground up.
McElroy, like Xides the architect in “Mister X,” the richest story in this collection of twelve, is...more
He was on Bookworm this week. An aside just before he read-- 'It may be ego; no I'm sure it's ego, but when I read this story I feel proud. And I know we live in the age of television, but I'm very happy to be reading this on the radio' --was so odd and sudden and honest. He's a truly moving and interesting human. I can't wait to read his fiction.
Sep 23, 2010 Jimmy marked it as to-read
Shelves: fiction
Kind of excited about the possibility of interviewing McElroy. I'm sure that he's, hands down, the weirdest man alive.
Mark Sacha
I've been meaning to sample McElroy's writing for a while. He taught at my school for a number of years, before my time, and the comparisons to DeLillo and Pynchon that I suppose is valid according to certain people (people who realized that the way to market "postmodern" lit is to rattle off the names of other, popular postmodern guys) meant that, eventually, I would get around to it.

I'm walking away from this collection with a mixed impression. I would like to believe that it's mostly positive...more
Jacob Wren
Joseph McElroy writes:

Morality is a composed state of mind, said Chuck, the black philosopher, which seemed reassuring that health-club party-day of the forty-third-floor sunset. But now it seemed wrong, its wrongness reassuring.

Our organist friend put us on the Unitarian Universalist mailing list and the church’s weekly newsletter came and I found in it under the headline “Ultimate Questions,” this supposedly West African saying:

When you think how things are,
And you don’t know how they began,
Oh, I swoon. I love him so much. And what a sweet thing, to have a collection of short (ish) stories to savor in addition to those thousand-page, out of print novels!

I'm not a fan of audiobooks, but it does occur to me after hearing the author read the opening of this collection's title story that it would be nothing short of amazing to have him record all of them.

This is one collection I will return to again and again, with pleasure.
difficult stories about modern life, mostly in nyc. themes of water and architecture prevail. book-ended by the stories "no man's land" and night soul" that will chill one to the core. to be read in a park in the sun.
Jeff Bursey
Did a review for The Literary Review on this title a while ago, and I see it's up on Goodreads.

Tombom P
I might come back to this later but right now, UGH. I feel I could have made it through and enjoyed more of it if it wasn't for the 3rd story being a dreadful interminable bore of a story about some kind of urban planner (except he wasn't ACTUALLY an urban planner - what was he? not explained) going to an accupuncturist (each time described in detail and the SAME details each time as if they have a meaning yet nothing really coming to light). This story takes up 1/5 of the book. I didn't even re...more
John Pappas
It is nearly impossible to orient yourself within these stories, yet it is also nearly impossible not to recognize yourself in them. These densely-wrought elliptical narratives are often confounding, which, I suppose, is part of the point. They portray what critic Stephen Burn, in a recent review, calls "doubt in action". Perhaps the best of these stories deal with the self-doubt, confusion and sense of mystery a parent feels when regarding a child or the sense of collective doubt, or "not-knowi...more
Ben Brackett
There is difficult to read, and then there are things that are just trash masquerading under that label. Putting this one beside the shitter in case I run out of toilet paper sometime.
Geoff Wehmeyer
Each of these stories grazed different nerves, but like in the acupuncturist story, these separate meridians converge very effectively. The last three stories, and "The Unknown Kid" in particular, show some of the best representation of family and relationships I have ever read.
Such pretentious drivel. No plots, no character development, no significant statements about the human condition and certainly no entertainment value. This is my first and last exposure to Mr. McElroy.
"I had an easier time time with "Gravity's Rainbow" then I'm having with this book right now!
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Joseph McElroy is an American novelist, short story writer, and essayist.

McElroy grew up in Brooklyn Heights, NY, a neighborhood that features prominently in much of his fiction. He received his B.A. from Williams College in 1951 and his M.A. from Columbia University in 1952. He served in the Coast Guard from 1952–4, and then returned to Columbia to complete his Ph.D. in 1961. As an English instru...more
More about Joseph McElroy...
A Smuggler's Bible Women and Men Lookout Cartridge Plus Cannonball

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