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Collected Stories

4.04  ·  Rating details ·  435 ratings  ·  45 reviews
Peter Carey is justly renowned for his novels, which have included the Booker Prize-winning titles Oscar and Lucinda and True History of the Kelly Gang. He is also a dazzling writer of short stories and this volume collects together all the stories from The Fat Man in History and War Crimes as well as three other stories not previously published in book form.

The stories, p
Paperback, 353 pages
Published August 19th 1996 by Faber and Faber (first published August 21st 1995)
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Average rating 4.04  · 
Rating details
 ·  435 ratings  ·  45 reviews

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Aug 23, 2012 rated it it was ok
I feel like Peter Carey is an author who abuses his talent. Of the many stories in this book, I think I enjoyed about... three: Do You Love Me?, American Dreams and Happy Story - the latter because it was one of the very few that did not have explicit content. Maybe I'm just immature (wait - maybe? who am I kidding? I'm as immature as 17 can get), but I don't understand why this kind of stuff is needed to express every darn view of his. If they're not explicit, they're just plain... weird. And n ...more
Sep 05, 2007 rated it it was amazing
I hesitate using the L word on this, Christmas morning, because, you know, everyone is walking around with that distant, vacant look in their eyes. That look that says, stop talking, please, I'm bloated and can't think, and I can use a little hair of the dog that bit me, this fine, blessed morning.

But anyway, most short story collections I've read and enjoyed have been of the Literary nature, with everyday, common settings and with emphasis on the characters. What struck me with Peter Carey's co
Arthur Graham
Mar 09, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Includes some truly fantastic shorts, but "American Dreams" is the major standout for me. ...more
There's no other way to describe this collection other than...holy crap!

There are some really, really confronting stories here. I mean it. Lots of swearing, some very freaky ideas, and many stories that make you sit up in astonishment.

As an English teacher and a reader this collection speaks to my soul. The content is just so meaty, earthy, and goddamn interesting! Each story has depth and breadth. Not all were to my taste, in fact some stories are distasteful and some are downright yucky.

And th
Only read 2 stories, "Do You Love Me?" and "Kristu-Du".

I really liked the concept behind "Do You Love Me?" and I found the idea of people disappearing when they cease to be loved quite interesting and terrifying at the same time. I don't share the same feelings about "Kristu-Du", though. I found it long, boring and without much meaning.
Katie Farris
Some of the most brilliant short stories I've ever read. "The Last Days of a Famous Mime" is fantastically good, and fantastically good to teach. I don't know about Carey as a novelist, but as a short story writer I think he's one of the twenty first century's best. Damn that sounded pretentious. ...more
Apr 23, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I hardly understood any of these stories and most of them made me feel quite uncomfortable and slightly violated, but at the same time they provoked copious amounts of thought and I walked away totally in awe of Carey's controversial imagination. ...more
Rebecca Jane
I think I was too stupid for these stories as I think the meanings were lost on me. I'll give them the benefit of the doubt and hope I'll like them better when I understand them more. But, for now, I'm sticking to a two star rating. ...more
Nicola Skinner
Feb 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I still think about these stories, 20 years after reading them. An astounding collection.
May 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
Peter Carey has been one of my favourite writers since the 1980s, and I decided this year that I would re-read all of his books in chronological order.

First, a bit of context. He is described as ‘Australia’s most popular living writer’ (although to be brutal, he may be swimming in a shallow pool). Most of the stories were previously published as ‘A Fat Man in History’ (1974) and ‘War Crimes’ (1979). So PC was in his 30s, working as an advertising copy writer, writing fiction in his spare time.
Vi Walker
Jul 14, 2018 rated it liked it
A 3.5 star book. I'm not a huge fan of short stories but I am a huge fan of Peter Carey. Most of the stories are set in a dystopian future and are darkly humorous. However, the final story is a factual account of his son's birth amidst his wife's serious illness. One would have to be very hard hearted not to be moved by this account. ...more
Dec 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: school
Although some stories were difficult to get through the writing and ideas were so superb that i really liked this book.
Vivian Nguyen
Aug 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing
What a brilliant read. Pure genius.
Nov 02, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: oz-lit
I can’t believe it took me so long to discover Peter Carey. All I can say in my defence is that maybe he’s an acquired taste? Possibly I made a mistake by starting off with one of his novels. I slogged through a few pages of Bliss, many years ago, but couldn’t get into it. (Maybe I found non-fiction accounts of NDEs more interesting, or the prose seemed bogged in vivid description?) Then I read an extract from Oscar and Lucinda (in Making Stories by Kate Grenville and Sue Woolfe) – hardly fair t ...more
Mar 26, 2014 rated it really liked it
Peter Carey has rapidly become one of my favourite authors, so reading some of his short stories seemed in order. He’s had a few collections published; this 2001 edition is, I think, the most comprehensive, combining his previous volumes The Fat Man in History and War Crimes, and adding a few extra stories which had previously been unpublished.

Although most of them take place in no particular time or place, the majority of these stories were written in the 1970s, before Carey turned his hand to
May 20, 2012 rated it it was ok
This review has been crossposted from my blog at The Cosy Dragon . Please head there for more in-depth reviews by me, which appear on a timely schedule.

'Collected Stories' by Peter Carey is a set text for one of my literature classes, as it is a good example of Post-Modernism. As such, I was not very interested in reading it, but my other alternatives were Feminism and Constructions of Gender! The short stories are clearly critiquing society, and so are not particularly comfortable to read.

Arjun Dirghangi
Sep 18, 2012 rated it really liked it
Carey, simply put, is a genius. Sadly, all too often, the right bastard spoils his handiwork in an almost too-obvious manner, like a Japanese potter utilizing the concept of wabi-sabi to save his work from the possibility of perfection. I read most of these stories at absolutely the wrong time for me. My own vulnerabilities and alienation hovering about the edges of my consciousness made reading so many of these things like twisting the knife in my own psyche. Still one can't blame Carey for suc ...more
Jun 15, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: school-texts
While well-written, Peter Carey'c collected stories just aren't for me.

The collection, written in the style of magic realism, uses disjointed time and unresolved narratives, with plots that shift and change focus mid story. Characters are often in strange situations and there are themes such as dreams, entrapment, cannibalism, sex, fantastical creatures, rewritten history and many other strange focuses.

However, Carey's prose is wonderful, clear and enthralling and wonderfully descriptive, whic
N.J. Ramsden
Feb 08, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
A diverse bunch of stories that are always clever, sometimes a bit too aware of it – and often a bit strange, and again sometimes too aware of it. There are times when Carey seems to be pushing hard to make things clever and strange, and others when it seems so effortless it's nothing but a pleasure to read. His imagery is always striking, even when he fumbles it; his language is almost always precise and measured, yet retains an essential freedom. There's a lot here to like, a few things to be ...more
Jan 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Peter Carey is a weird and wonderful dude - nearly all of his stories are twisted and warped, driven by flawed characters. At the same time he has this innate ability to deconstruct the human condition in a engaging way that forces you to stop and think.

I'd like to have see some of his stories further fleshed out - I could imagine the likes of The Chance making great full length novels.

I generally enjoy books with characters like the ones within Collected Stories; they aren't shining protagoni
Holly Lindquist
Sep 04, 2009 rated it did not like it
This book boasts a liberal dollop of favorable praise from a wide variety of publications, but I'm personally unimpressed. The guy is trying way too hard. When I buy a book of short stories, I have an expectation: that somebody's going to tell me a darn story, not that I'm going to have to wade my way through the bloated pretentious verbal secretions of a self-indulgent brain. When a 3-page story seems interminable, it's time to relegate the book to the garage sale. Think I'm exaggerating? Here ...more
Jun 05, 2010 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: short story fiends

definitely going to look into his novels now...
favorites include 'The Chance' (definitely 5 stars), 'Kristu-Du', 'Concerning the Greek Tyrant' and 'A Million Dollars' Worth of Amphetamines'.
'Room No. 5 (Escribo)' would make a fantastic short film. so would '. . .Amphetamines' (which could easily be stretched to feature length) and 'Withdrawal'... actually, most of them would be interesting on-screen, but those seem most feasible. others would need substantial dream/scifi/scale effects, is my
Tim Hodge
A clearly talented writer, Peter Carey could perhaps be criticised for trying too hard. While some of the short stories in this collection are excellent, others are straining under their own literary self-importance. They feel bloated. Perhaps also the publishers could have been more selective with the stories used in this collection. The quality varies too much from one to the next; fortunately for all involved it is never outright bad, just disappointing or sometimes dull, while at the other e ...more
Farzin Takyar
Jul 10, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: everybody
I have read the first four stories so far. It has been quite fascinating. Peter Carey is really good at fantasizing bitter realities. The stories can be good for everybody, from those who are looking for short stories to just flip through to those who are serious about writing short stories and novels.
When I finish I will write a comprehensive comment on this book. It has impressed me a lot!
Jun 22, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Kira by: Lit Class
Shelves: adult-fiction
Each story was either a hit or miss for me. I loved about half of the 26 short stories, while the others were sort of meh. At one point I put down the novel for about week only because I was finding one of the stories so boring.
However, the originality in some of these stories is just epic. If you're a fan of bleak, unpredictable, violent, unique and thought provoking stories then I'd recommend this collection. And the amount of allegories in some of these stories is crazy!
Nov 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I studied this collection for yr 12 Literature and thoroughly enjoyed it (although enjoyed may not the the right word). Many of Carey's stories are harrowing, but I loved the intricacies of his writing and the themes he addresses. I'd probably have to say my favourite is 'Conversations with Unicorns' although 'Do you love me', 'American Dreams' and a few others are up there. I wouldn't reccomend this collection to the faint hearted, but to everyone else it's a must read. ...more
Andrea DeAngelis
Jan 20, 2011 rated it really liked it
Many of these stories are very haunting and visceral, a twist in one of them actually made me physically ill. I will try to forget that one - The journey of a lifetime -- but surely I never will. In many of these stories, you have no idea of what is coming next from sentence to sentence, an unsettling and riveting effect. And then there are a few that are lovely and bittersweet. But very few.
Katrina Katz
Not my cup of tea but I liked some of the stories - The Fat Man in History, Peeling, Concerning the Greek Tyrant, American Dreams, A Schoolboy Prank and The Chance. I find this kind of writing generally obnoxious and self-indulgent. However, I'm teaching this for Year 12 Literature and it will hopefully serve its purpose and the students will get something out of it. ...more
Jan 19, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: school-books
I had to read these short stories for my year 12 literature class. As bizarre as they are, I thoroughly enjoyed reading them. The analysis that my class did of these stories was incredibly fun and entertaining. I probably wouldn't have read this book if it had not been a class text, however I surprised myself by really enjoying the reading experience. ...more
AJ Nolan
Mar 09, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Wow! These stories are astonishing! While I love his novels, I really want to read some more Carey stories, but alas, this is all there is. He just gets away with so much. He actually writes a story about unicorns without being cheezy or invoking an 8 year old girl's bedroom. ...more
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Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the Goodreads database with this name. See this thread for more information.

Peter Carey was born in Australia in 1943.

He was educated at the local state school until the age of eleven and then became a boarder at Geelong Grammar School. He was a student there between 1954 and 1960 — after Rupert Murdoch had graduated and before Prince Charles arriv

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“People do not love those whose eyes show that they are somewhere else” 24 likes
“(From the story The Last Days of a Famous Mime)
He said nothing. He was mildly annoyed at her presumption: that he had not thought this many, many times before.
With perfect misunderstanding she interpreted his passivity as disdain.
Wishing to hurt him, she slapped his face.
Wishing to hurt her, he smiled brilliantly.”
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