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The Collected Stories of Deborah Eisenberg: Stories

4.12  ·  Rating details ·  576 Ratings  ·  61 Reviews
Twenty-seven short stories by "a contemporary master" (The New York Times).

Since 1986 with the publication of her first story collection, Deborah Eisenberg has devoted herself to writing "exquisitely distilled stories" which "present an unusually distinctive portrait of contemporary American life" to quote the MacArthur Foundation. This one volume brings together Transacti
ebook, 992 pages
Published August 31st 2010 by Picador (first published September 16th 2008)
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Sep 22, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: someone isn't your friend because they happen to be standing next to you
Recommended to Mariel by: disassembling on contact with oxygen
And all around Patty’s little bed circled the terror that perhaps those former shimmering lures had not been signs of some central imperative but were instead the snares of a mocking siren; that perhaps she was soon to be dashed, like Mrs. Jorgenson, against the rocks (so to speak) of the hall floor. from ‘A Cautionary Tale’

I would be reading some of these stories feeling like I wouldn’t mind if I could just go on like that with them. But some other thing I had to do would ruin that best kind of
Sara Batkie
I spread my reading of this out over five months, during which many things happened: I finished grad school, got my first real job, got dumped, got my first story published. Deborah Eisenberg was a particularly apropos constant during this tumultuous period. I'm not sure there's a more empathetic author working in fiction today. Reading her is like sitting down with your smarter, funnier friend. I took breaks for novels and for my own writing, but I always made time to return to her, and I'm gla ...more
Mar 09, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One hardly knows how to describe a Deborah Eisenberg story, let alone this volume which brings together all five of her collections under a single cover. Adjectives like "exhilarating" or "dazzling" feel too light, too insubstantial to give the sense of the power and precision of her work. Others like "genius" have been so over used as to become common as crab grass and as such would feel like an insult to a writer who can fairly and without hyperbole be described as perhaps the best currently a ...more
Apr 16, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As the title makes clear, this is a compendium of all four of Eisenberg's previously published volumes of stories. As such, it gives us, under one cover, the evolution of a particular and exquisite talent, though one that is not, I am sure, to everyone's taste. When she first published, Eisenberg was bucking the publishing tide. Minimalism and "K-Mart realism" were in the ascendant, Raymond Carver was short story royalty, and his imitators--or the imitators of what Gordon Lish did to his stories ...more
Megan Hansen
I wanted to like this book, but the writing style felt too tedious. I can’t put my finger on it, some of the storied had good concepts, I just couldn’t get into it. Plus the sheer size of the book was overwhelming!
Katherine Govier
Sep 21, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: put-it-aside

I love this book. I'm reading it little by little, over the last few months. The prose is so crisp and clean. The stories are unique; no one else writes like this. Very Manhattan, but not showy. I'll write more later.
Mar 21, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Writers and readers of literary fiction
Skip the first set of stories, which are early efforts and tend to blend all together. But once you get to the second set, you realize almost instantly that Deborah Eisenberg is a special talent. The dialogue is fantastic. The word choice is spot on and the rhythm of the sentences is like good music. I can't say that I like the subject matter very much - Eisenberg is almost exclusively concerned with the lives of rather feckless women tenuously tied to rather creepy men - but I do love the writi ...more
Mar 26, 2010 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Holy shit.
Mar 23, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: giveaways
I'd been meaning to read Twilight of the Superheroes ever since The Millions called it one of the best books of the millennium. So, when I saw this four-in-one (including TOTS) tome listed as a Goodreads giveaway, I threw caution to the wind and signed up. Be careful what you wish for!

Actually, I'm very happy that Goodreads picked me and that this was my exposure to Eisenberg, since I personally thought that TOTS was one of the weaker sets of stories in this collection. I'd give Transactions in
Jul 21, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction


Lyle is stretched out on a yoga mat that Nathaniel once bought in preparation for a romance (as yet manqué) with a prettily tattooed yoga reached…
Manqué: short of or frustrated in the fulfillment of one's aspirations or talents.



Once in a while, though---it happened sometimes when she encounter one of them unexpectedly---Lynnie would see them as they had been. For an instant their sleeping tower would flash, but then their dimmed present selves might greet Lynnie, wi
Matt Middlebrook
Sep 03, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was not sure whether I should give this book 3 or 4 stars, but I fell to 4. I had never heard or nor read Deborah Eisenberg until this collection came out which received rave reviews (as well as the PEN/Faulkner Award). I love short stories, love, love, love them. However, this is a collection of all of her works (four collections), and it clocks in at 980 pages. It is a workout. And I must say that I think I would have appreciated her works if I had bitten it off in smaller chunks instead of ...more
Mar 18, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
(Disclosure: This book was received free via the First-Reads program, with the understanding that I might read and review it.)

Not only "the collected stories", these are the complete stories of Deborah Eisenberg - four books in one very massive tome. This is a book to pick up and put down, read a story or two, go onto something lighter or maybe less introspective, and then come back to it when you have a hungering for a short visit to a deep place. I say deep, because no matter how much humor Ei
Carmen Petaccio
Jul 01, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
There are certainly diminishing returns as the book progresses, if only for the unfair brilliance of the first two collections. By the last story I had resolved to a four star rating, and then I read the below paragraph three pages from the end and thought, oh, right, that is the entirety of everything, game over.

"Looking at a painting takes a certain composure, a certain resolve, but when you really do look at one it can be like a door swinging open, a sensation, however brief, of vaulting free
Mandy E
Apr 29, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have a longer review posted on my blog ( if anyone is interested... but for now, some favorite quotes:

(from 'twilight of the superheroes' p795):
"'Fifty percent of respondents say that the event taking place is not occurring,' Madison says, 'The other fifty percent remain undecided. Clearly the truth lies somewhere in between.'"

(from 'like it or not' p875)
"'It's a wonder we can understand anything at all about ourselves...We can't even see our own kidneys.'"

Aug 21, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the best story collections I've ever read. It really is hard to find any collection where more than 50% of the stories are solid, but this just blew my mind. Do not come to these stories if you are looking for an epiphany or revelations. Eisenberg disagrees with such endings as, to her, they are unrealistic. Every story is a gem--a wonder. My favorite story is "Some Other, Better Otto" which had me close to tears several times, and really great character examinations.

I'm so glad I found
Oct 10, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Really wonderful, really dense... it took me what, a month to read? Such a fine-tuned literary prism onto the world, you read it and wonder, Why didn't I think of that?

It's funny because I just loved Twilight of the Superheroes when it first came out, but attached to the other collections that came before, it pales a little. The early stuff is so immediate. Anyway, more later... stay tuned.
Mar 21, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was surprised when this book came by how big it was. It was a very enjoyable read however even though it was long. I really liked this collection these stories were very well written and funny and smart at times. I have never heard of Deborah Eisenberg before but now I have and I have to say I am a fan now!
Apr 07, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
(2.4/5.0) Boooo. She's married to Wallace Shawn, and these stories are like whinier, less interesting versions of My Dinner with Andre. They have that tiring New York sense of humor that needs to get put to sleep.
Mar 14, 2010 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
This looks interesting to me
Christy Stewart
No, please.
Judith Podell
Mar 14, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Lorrie Moore + Don DeLillo, perhaps? Add Jean Rhys, without the personal demons. Lots of wit and compassion for the underdog.

Sarah Johnson
Feb 17, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Amazing stories. Unable to put them down until about under the 82nd airborne. Something gave way not in a good way. Will have to push through to other sections. Don't want to give up on this one.
Jay Beasley
Jul 26, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The best short story writer alive today. "Some Other, Better Otto" is perfect.
Krizia Anna
Well I read one story and that's "The Girl Who Left Her Socks on the Floor". It was more than a girl leaving her socks on the floor, it was so much more. I guess the problem I have with short stories is that they are too short. I love getting to know about the characters. I like taking my time. This is a 10-minute read so plus for that.
Jan 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Feb 10, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read one of the short story collections compiled in the book and didn't feel the need to read more. They were ok.
Frances Coles
May 30, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Love love love this writer. She is right up there with Alice Munro for me, almost, and that is saying a lot. My copy of this book is almost falling apart, the cover held on with tape, because I read it in the bathtub so often. Favorite stories include "All Around Atlantis" "Rosie Gets a Soul" "Windows" "Some Other, Better Otto" "Like It Or Not" "Broken Glass"

God, it's so much harder to praise a writer than it is to slam him or her, but I will give it a try here. (One just ends up sounding like
Dec 30, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: short-stories
What a thrill finding a new short story writer to adore! It took me quite a long time to figure it what it was about these stories that made them so special. Eisenberg masters the ambiguity of life, the kind of ambiguity that we resist by imposing a story on top so we don’t have to feel uncertain — not quite understanding what a person means, not quite getting the dynamics of a group of people, not quite knowing enough of the history to be sure of what’s going on, not quite believing someone, no ...more
I won this book from Goodreads and was a little shocked to see that it was 970 pages - yikes! Clearly not one to sit down and read cover to cover at one time. Fortunately, since it's a collection of four books of short stories, it lends itself nicely to a more gradual reading.

I've finished the first book (Transactions in a Foreign Currency) and I really enjoyed the stories in that one. I liked the fact that the stories are long enough to allow me to get to know the characters, and the actions o
May 01, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Eisenberg is unlike any other writer in the world -- her stories are disorienting, challenging, strange. Her protagonists are often oblivious -- due to age, self-involvement, or simply by dint of their Americanness -- and the three stars she gets here is more an indicator of the fact that some of the stories are better than others, as is bound to be true of any author. The book is nearly a thousand pages long; of course there are a few stinkers.

The best of the stories are kind of terrifying in t
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Born in Chicago, Eisenberg moved to New York City in the 1960's where she has lived ever since. She also teaches at the University of Virginia. Her writing has appeared in The New Yorker, The Yale Review, Vanity Fair, and Tin House. She has won the Rea Award for the Short Story, a Whiting Writer's Award, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and three O. Henry Awards.
More about Deborah Eisenberg

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“I turned with the receiver to the wall as I absorbed the fact of Ivan’s voice, and when I glanced back at the man on my sofa, he seemed like a scrap of paper, or the handle from a broken cup, or a single rubber band—a thing that has become dislodged from its rightful place and intrudes on one’s consciousness two or three or many times before one understands that it is just a thing best thrown away.” 0 likes
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