There are three excellent stories in this collection. Lion and Panther in London is about two Indian brothers who go to London in 1910 to wrestle. TheThere are three excellent stories in this collection. Lion and Panther in London is about two Indian brothers who go to London in 1910 to wrestle. They are the champions of India, but they are having difficulty arranging matches in England. James does an extraordinary job in getting inside their world and how everything they think of as honorable, is corrupt and pathetic in England. Eventually, they are tainted by the corruption, even though they continue to act with honesty. What to Do with Henry chronicles the lives of a family that adopts a chimp. It doesn't go well. James wrings heartrending moments out of this story without resorting to cheap sentiment.
Perhaps the finest story in the collection is Light & Luminous. Minal Auntie runs an Indian classical dance school in Illinois. She's contending with two problems in the story, one is her niece who has enrolled and really has no business being at the school and the other is a new Indian dance school that has opened and is taking her pupils. James does a wonderful job showing how Minal Auntie has never quite acclimated herself to American life. In the heat of crisis she goes back against her most cherish beliefs. It's a beautiful story of how hard it can be to immigrate.
The rest of the collection is a bit uneven. Girl Marries Ghost is a real clunker while the Scriptological Review: A Last Letter from the Editor feels a bit gimicky. The other stories help illuminate the cultural divide facing Indians (southern Indians in particular) in trying to make it in the states. There are beautiful moments in these storeis but they don't hold up as well as Light and Luminous. ...more
I read the original mass market edition of this book published by Fawcett in 1988. Mass market is now the territory of thrillers, romance, science ficI read the original mass market edition of this book published by Fawcett in 1988. Mass market is now the territory of thrillers, romance, science fiction and mysteries. You won't find Zadie Smith or Junot Diaz or Ian McEwan published in the compact paperbacks like literary authors were in the 1980s.
The first few pages are devoted to excerpts from reviews. That's standard practice now, but what I loved about these reviews is that they highlight what different reviewers around the country said about individual stories. At the end of the book there are eight pages about Updike's earlier books including quotes, descriptions and some hyperbole. It just made me want to dive in and read it all.
As for the stories, they are mostly superb. Almost all of them involve marraiges dealing in one way or the other with infidelity. Updike deals with this theme in so many different ways that it never gets tired or trite. His language, the way he describes people and places, is simply gorgeous. The longer stories (More Stately Mansions, The Other and The Other Woman) take on the depth and complexity of novels. Updike's plotting is suspenseful and many of the stories feature a little twist, a slight subtle line at the end that arrives like a revelation.
A collection of short stories set in the Crazy Mountains of Montana in the town of Buckle. Chamberlain writes relatively simple stories that evoke theA collection of short stories set in the Crazy Mountains of Montana in the town of Buckle. Chamberlain writes relatively simple stories that evoke the rugged landscape and the men and women who work with the land and the animals that inhabit it. Stacking is a brilliant story that tells the history of hay baling while revealing three generations of heartbreak between two families. Heartbreak seems to be a common condition in Chamberlain's world. In The Tracks of Animals a woman is seemingly deserted by her husband only to find out the truth in a great twist at the end. In Horse Thieves a young woman's heart is pushed to the edge for the love a newborn foal....more
A magnificent collection of linked stories that shows the vibrancy, the diversity, the suppleness of the short story form. Diaz's writing is humorousA magnificent collection of linked stories that shows the vibrancy, the diversity, the suppleness of the short story form. Diaz's writing is humorous on the surface, but deeply moving and insightful once you dig in. Every story is remarkable. He brings the contemporary immigrant experience to the fore as well as having remarkably cogent things to say about relationships and friendships.
Several of the stories are written in the second person -- a form I usually avoid. I don't like its directness, as if the author is telling me what I do or who I like or how I think. I understand that using "you" is a stand in for "I", but it so often doesn't work. In Diaz's hands it seems like the perfect way to tell a story. How can a story be told any other way.
This collection reaches its height with a trio of stories about Yunior's (the narrator's)brother. Those stories, "The Pura Principle", "Nilda," "Invierno" almost from a tighter link within the rest of the book.
The focus of the book seems to be the creative ways that Yunior loses women. His womanizing, his inablity to realize until things are over that he cared for someone is repeated in story after story. Because of that, the stories involving his brother Rafa seem to sneak up on the reader. Rafa's not a particularly likeable character and he treats women even worse than his younger brother, but his tragic life illuminates his brother's situation. It makes you rethink Yunior's actions and difficulties in forming relationships.
There are so many reasons I love Diaz's writing -- the propulsion of his narrative, his unique characters, the directness of his voice that it doesn't really matter what he writes about. No one strings words together quite like him. When people ask, "who is he like?" The answer is no one. That's the highest compliment that I can give. ...more