**spoiler alert** I was so confused by this slim volume of three short stories. I picked it at the library as I liked the simple cover and title and i**spoiler alert** I was so confused by this slim volume of three short stories. I picked it at the library as I liked the simple cover and title and it is a small size easy to fit into purse for a book to read on my commute. I fully admit that I did not understand what was going on in the first two stories. In 'Never Love a Gambler' I was too busy trying to keep the characters straight to be able to think much about the story itself, and it was filled completely with unlikable people except for the boy. And am I wrong in thinking that a ghost saved the day in the end(as I said I was confused? I don't remember most of the second story, Shame, except the adulterous wide mentioned on the first page. The last story, Ross and Kinnder, was my favorite, and mostly because I understood what was going on plot wise and it was incredibly descriptive and creepy discussion of morality. I am all for interesting and dark fiction that wants to be different, modern and inventive, but not when it comes with the price of the obfuscation of understanding what just happened in the pages of the story in the simplest of terms....more
Really lovely. Clear, simple writing. All the short stories have a theme of Judaism, but in so many different eras, scenarios and catalysts. Hasidim fReally 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....more
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, whichWell 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....more
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 II 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....more