Really lovely. Clear, simple writing. All the short stories have a theme of Judaism, but in so many different eras, scenarios and catalysts. Hasidim f...moreReally lovely. Clear, simple writing. All the short stories have a theme of Judaism, but in so many different eras, scenarios and catalysts. Hasidim fleeing the death camp trains become the world worst acrobats, a Rabbi who moonlights as a department store Santa and a wig maker are some of the characters who come across in these sweet and sad stories. I want to read more by Englander.(less)
Well written but a hard read. I was disappointed in it, but I think I fell victim of having too high expectations from friends' recommendations, which...moreWell written but a hard read. I was disappointed in it, but I think I fell victim of having too high expectations from friends' recommendations, which is my own fault.
I found many of the stories almost stream of consciousness, peaking into people's brains (and mostly incredibly self-involved, unlikeable men man suffering from high-level self delusion). I enjoyed the stories in the beginning of the book much more than as the collection continued. I also enjoyed when Saunders had children/young boys as the point-of-view of the story.
My two favorite stories is the collection were: “Escape from Spiderhead” which is a bit science-fiction, futuristic and dark and reminded me of something that would be on the TV show "Black Mirror". Also, "Puppies" which is probably the hardest to read to story in the bunch, but it is also the only story in the book I most likely will remember after any period of time has passed.
In some of the later stories, such as "Al Roosten" "Home", "My Chivalric Fiasco", and "The Semplica Girl Diaries" - they all seemed to have the same narrator: a totally interchangeable unhappy man, jealous of others peoples happiness, successes and belongings-but not really willing to make any changes to themselves that involves real work. Once I got to these stories I just wanted the book the be over, it all blended together.(less)
I can't decide what's holding me back from this collection. The more I read the less I liked it. More then anything it's the most mysoginistic thing I...moreI can't decide what's holding me back from this collection. The more I read the less I liked it. More then anything it's the most mysoginistic thing I have read in a long while (and I don't even think he intended it to be which makes it worse).
I refuse to believe that life is so hopeless and youthful innocence does not exsist today. Not everyone can be so sociopathic and "slutty" (I'm loathing using that word as to what it represents in the book). Have some pride, faith, identity. If you would believe these stories, that is not possible.
Ironically the best stories are from a female narrator, all the males blend completely together into no identity (or maybe I hate all the male speakers just calling the girls whore/slut over and over) and the women do nothing to prove them wrong.
I read the entire book in less than a day and I haven't done that in ages.
Story: Was it the fact I can't relate to kids this age anymore? Was it the shock for shock value? Or that the same thing happened over and over? A decent first offering, but I wanted so much more, and have read so much better. I don't shock easy, I've read a ton of Denis Cooper (who is way more graphic but is actually saying something about contemporary life) and what felt false to me was the "violence" and the suposed dangerous boys but instead of feeling shocking or fresh it all felt one note, and a fall back with all the "sluts" and masturbation, anti-gay sentiments, and violent sad lost kids. If I can't relate to that anymore, James Franco certainly can't. Especially when every boy was the nerdiest ugliest boy. And while we all feel less than in our youth, as adults we can look back with 20/20 hindsight and Franco needs to be a liitle more honest with who he is now to make me buy what he is trying to sell then.
Writing: very few good passages or images I admired for writing or craft. It seemed rushed, like he wrote what he thought a short story should be. I still think could develop into a writer, but I kept thinking that if he wasnt who he was he never would have gotten this published. It need to be more tweaked. I feel bad for other writers with short story collections slaving away who will never get published.
Maybe it's a California thing, and I can't relate.(less)
I think Cooper's fiction works better in a longer novel form so you have more time to become involved with the characters. With his short stories it i...moreI think Cooper's fiction works better in a longer novel form so you have more time to become involved with the characters. With his short stories it is almost an endless parade of the same man over an over again in each story (sad, lonely, horny, depraved, desperate, insatiable, violent, perverse, overstimulated) and they all seemed to blend together into one never-ending and interchangeable tale.
This is the third Cooper work I have read since the summer and I think I need to take a break as not to burn myself out. (less)
The reason it is only getting rated 2 stars is that have previously read most of the stories that appear in this holiday themed collection in his vari...moreThe reason it is only getting rated 2 stars is that have previously read most of the stories that appear in this holiday themed collection in his various other books. I think only about three were first-time read for me.
The only never before published story is a not even fice page long sory that is about an Animal Farm-esque Secret Sant, which was very original but crushed my spirit right before bed.
I do like that there are completely fictional stories that dont involve the author's life in anyway in this collection such as "The Cow and the Turkey" and "Based on a True Story".(less)
Told through the eyes of the three womens' a-sexual, former literature teacher and life long confidante the title story. The Friend of Women, is a bit...moreTold through the eyes of the three womens' a-sexual, former literature teacher and life long confidante the title story. The Friend of Women, is a biting tale of three school girl friends who happened to be born before their time. Their desire to be independent, interllectual people who are able to have minds, careers and selves of completely ones own will never be realized. Auchencloss as usual shines a light into the monied, high society of the early twentieth century and all that comes with it. I NEVER saw where this story was headed and really was pleasantly suprised.
The other stories in the collection are not as impressive, but worth the read for the first and lengthy story.(less)