Ebirdy's Reviews > The Collected Stories of Jean Stafford

The Collected Stories of Jean Stafford by Jean Stafford
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Jan 31, 12

bookshelves: read-but-unowned
Read from January 23 to 31, 2012

Although I tend to gravitate toward big, meaty novels when I look for something to read, I am in awe of short story writers. To be able to weave an entire story in only 10 or 15 pages (sometimes less) that leaves the reader feeling completely satisfied is just amazing.

Jean Stafford is a master at this - she can sketch a complete scene is just a few well-chosen words. She also had me reaching for the dictionary, which I love - nothing like adding a few new words to my Scrabble vocabulary! Stafford's descriptions of social settings - both high society and low - are beautifully done throughout the various sections of the book.

I read one of her most well-known stories, In the Zoo last night. What an ending - it left me shaking my head both at the storyline and at Stafford's skill as a writer. The Echo and The Nemesis was another story where the ending had an unexpected twist - again, just a few brief words but they left you shaken. In The Healthiest Girl in Town her depiction of the main character's childhood anxiety and thoughts were wonderful, and marked with Stafford's wry humor.

I think most everyone would enjoy at least some of the stories in this collection. Not every one is a diamond, but all of them are jewels in their own way. I think Stafford is one of the "must read" authors, especially for anyone who has to do much writing of their own (for any reason) - you can learn a lot about good, concise writing from her work.
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