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The Burning House

3.85  ·  Rating details ·  240 Ratings  ·  21 Reviews
The now-classic, utterly unique voice of Ann Beattie is so dry it throws off sparks, her eye endowed with the emotional equivalent of X-ray vision. Her characters are young men and women discovering what it means to be a grown-up in a country that promised them they'd stay young forever. And here, in shapely, penetrating stories, Beattie confirms why she is one of the most ...more
ebook, 272 pages
Published March 30th 2011 by Vintage (first published 1982)
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mark monday
Jun 30, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
people in the middle of changes. like reading a collected review of assorted slow burning mid-life crises, put to the page by a dry-eyed, not-exactly sympathetic observer. humans are sad! but this collection is beautiful and often surprising.
Oct 24, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I think I mentioned this somewhere else, but I'd never read Beattie, even though it feels like I spent most of the nineties in writing programs trying to figure out what to do with the legacy of dirty realism (the programs and me both trying to figure it out-- syntactic ambiguity can be your friend). I'm not sure what I expected out of this, but since Susan Lohafer seemed so enamored with her, I thought I'd give Beattie a whirl, and I'm glad I did....

The stories aren't what I expected, given my
Mar 03, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Best stories in my opinion are "Greenwich Time" and "The Burning House," which happen to be the last two.
Aug 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Gorgeous, haunting short stories without an ounce of fat.
Dylan Suher
Beattie is pretty much the archetype of strictly minimalist New Yorker fiction, specifically, she's really emblematic of a very particular moment in American fiction of the seventies. This dedication to observation and capturing the moment means, in practice, a lot of colorless characters who blend together and stories that don't really go anywhere. And while I think you can still write good stories about the well-to-do, I did find it difficult to relate to yet another WASP with a summer home. O ...more
I have yet to read an Ann Beattie book that I don't like. Part of me wants to give this 4 stars, some stories are definitely that, and some are 3's, maybe one 2 and one five also. My first preference of Ann Beattie's workse are her novels. Her short stories are powerful, tightly written, very brief. She reaches one or two layers into the character while her books are very fully revealing. If someone else attempted to write her characters stories it would be a depressing read. Her stories are lik ...more
Susan Emmet
Years ago I loved Ann Beattie's work. Been away a while and returned to her through "The Burning House."
Older now, I found many characters and stories shallow, callow and...not very self-aware. Then thought again about the time in which they were written, time when I lived in NY and Maine, and said "Be careful."
Beattie is careful with her characters, shallow though they are at times.
And she's working settings in which people were what she captures - unfaithful, fickle, questing, wondering.
My fa
Jul 06, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting snapshots of life among a group of similar, often drunk or stoned lonely people with wide-open, unfinished edges, like the deckle-edged black and white photos mentioned in one of the stories. In another of the odd coincidences that have been occurring in my life of late, Beattie's name was in the crossword I did on the same day I started reading this. I found this and another collection of her stories at an antiquarian bookseller in Manassas, in unedited proofs. I was almost as intri ...more
Jul 16, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is one of those books that was probably unique or broke new ground in its time (it was first published in 1982). I like her "flat" style. The characters and situations are interesting, the dialogue is good... but I'm not sure it still gives satisfaction. It didn't for me, but that may have to do with my relationship with short stories. If the characters and plots are interesting enough, I want to spend more time with them than a short story lasts, so ultimately I'm frustrated.
Hannah Stratos
Jan 07, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Each of these stories felt like a small clip in the lives of their characters instead of a complete story, but somehoe this was better than knowing everything surrounding the characters. Each character grappled with serious, depressing, and life changing circumstances, and the format made these situations feel incredibly real and that much more powerful. Would absolutely recommend if you're ready for a bit of a downer.
Aug 11, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
For years I've been hearing what a master of the shorty story Ann Beattie is. This was my first foray into her fictive realm, and it was disappointing (I confess I did not read the entire collection). All the stories were about privileged white hetero couples whining about their relationships. Not too different from what you'd find in ABC primetime. Skip it.
Aug 11, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: short-stories
This is the book that made me want to write short stories. Every story in it is perfect, fully formed. I wish Beattie's other collections and novels (the ones I've read, at least) came close to the achievement of this one.
"Jacklighting" is an exceptionally beautiful story of loss.
It was confusing at times and some parts absolutely did not make sense, but I guess that's the way it works with 1st person povs.

Other than that, it's a pretty good short story.
Apr 16, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The best story in this compilation of short stories was "Playback." Insanely good.
Aug 24, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
B Some of the stories were really great, but other ones were mediocre and skimmed those
May 02, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
the stars are only for the title story. greenwich time merits 3, cinderella waltz 1, and the rest were unread by me
Jul 08, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
jacklighting is still my all time piece of favorite contemporary short fiction.
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Dec 21, 2013
Carrie Schindele Cupples
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Jun 06, 2008
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Apr 22, 2017
rated it it was ok
Jan 30, 2008
Courtney Watson
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Jan 08, 2012
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May 17, 2011
Brooke Foster
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Jul 12, 2007
Brett Zelman
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Jan 31, 2016
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Feb 15, 2009
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Jan 08, 2009
Tiana McKenna
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Oct 06, 2014
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Goodreads Librari...: Incorrect title 2 14 Apr 29, 2013 09:58AM  
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Ann Beattie (born September 8, 1947) is an American short story writer and novelist. She has received an award for excellence from the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters and a PEN/Bernard Malamud Award for excellence in the short story form. Her work has been compared to that of Alice Adams, J.D. Salinger, John Cheever, and John Updike. She holds an undergraduate degree from Americ ...more
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