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Paper Lantern: Love Stories

4.01  ·  Rating details ·  335 ratings  ·  58 reviews
A new collection of short stories by a master of the form with a common focus on the turmoils of romantic love

On command the firing squad aims at the man backed against a full-length mirror. The mirror once hung in a bedroom, but now it's cracked and propped against a dumpster in an alley. The condemned man has refused the customary last cigarette but accepted as
Hardcover, 224 pages
Published June 3rd 2014 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (first published 2014)
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4.01  · 
Rating details
 ·  335 ratings  ·  58 reviews

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Dec 29, 2016 rated it really liked it
It's hard to find fault in any collection of Dybek stories; I've missed his writing and am glad to read more from his pen.

Even if you're not a fan of love stories, don't be fooled by the title - love is the clay to this Potter; watching what he does with the medium is dazzling.
Jason Pettus
[Earlier this year, I had the honor of being asked to join the staff of the Chicago Literary Hall of Fame, specifically to help choose the honoree each year of the organization's Fuller Award for Lifetime Achievement. 2018's recipient was Stuart Dybek, and I was asked to write a critical overview of his work for the accompanying program. I'm reprinting it in full below.]

It’s been a fascinating thing this month to read through the entire prose oeuvre of Stuart Dybek in chronological order for the
Denis Farley
Feb 11, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was from a New Yorker Podcast, read by ZZ Packer. About forty minutes with an introduction and closing discussion with New Yorker fiction editor Deborah Treisman, it is thoroughly entertaining, really quite daunting in style and device. I've replayed the reading several times and expect quite a few more.
Oct 14, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: abandoned
Definitely disappointed that I did not enjoy this book. With such good reviews, I thought it would be an enjoyable read. Instead, I found myself dragging through it, feeling miserable!
Shari Fox
Aug 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
If you enjoy literary fiction, including in short story form, you will love this collection. Stuart Dybek is a very talented, experienced writer and does a fantastic job with both character and place in a relatively few number of pages. These are all love stories in a sense, but each unique. The expressions and types of love are a part of that difference, as is the way the author journeys into the story. His students are very lucky writers, indeed.
Adi Alsaid
Jan 15, 2015 rated it liked it
Absolutely love Paper Lantern, the story. The rest of the stories here are frankly hard to make sense of on first reading, though they are enchantingly written.
Full Stop
Sep 29, 2014 added it
Shelves: fall-2014

Review by Lacey N. Dunham

Stuart Dybek’s Paper Lantern: Love Stories should be sold with a warning: do not read if you’re recovering from recent heartbreak. Or, more properly, if you’ve ever experienced heartbreak. Set mainly in the Midwest, and in particular Dybek’s beloved Chicago, he writes head on about the city’s poor and working class with the same ease as he examines the inner lives of over-educated academics. Each of the nine stories in the collecti
Feb 03, 2015 rated it did not like it
I'm so happy that it's over! None of these short stories caught my attention. I was really close to throwing this book across my room. I feel bad since a friend of mine recommend Stuart Dyberk. I'm going to give him another chance and read another book.
Gerry LaFemina
Jun 23, 2014 rated it really liked it
Dybek's lush lyrical language, control of the image, and his willingness to take flights into the fantastic make this a delightful collection of stories that becomes more a meditation on love, art (and the art of love), desire and the role of story in this thing we call being human.
Jul 05, 2014 rated it really liked it
5 stars for the lush brilliance of stories such as Paper Lantern. 3 stars for about half of the stories, which had perfect moments but ultimately didn't work for me
Adam Wilson
Mar 20, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I've read and loved all of Dybek's books, but nothing prepared me for this. These stories are wild, and different, and strange, and amazing.
Jul 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
"I realized we can never predict when these few, special moments will occur...How, if we hadn't met, I wouldn't be standing on a bridge, watching a fire, and how there are certain people, not that many, who enter one's life with the power to make those moments happen. Maybe that's what falling in love means - the power to create for each other the moments by which we define ourselves."
-from the story "Paper Lanterns"

This book is aptly subtitled "Love Stories," but also, they're all stories abou
Valerie Miner
Aug 12, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Here is my review of PAPER LANTERN from the San Francisco Chronicle, 10 July, 2014

Paper Lantern by Stuart Dybek
Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 207 pages, $24.00
Ecstatic Cahoots by Stuart Dybek
Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 195 pages, $15.00

June is a great month to celebrate fiction with the publication of Stuart Dybek’s two effervescent, musical collections, Paper Lantern, nine love stories, and Ecstatic Cahoots, fifty short-short stories. His characters explore urban Chicago and
Mike Hammer
Feb 25, 2018 rated it liked it
a nice collection
dybek is a great visual wordsmith, with creative exciting imaginative word usage and analogies and twists and turns, as much as there are in literary fiction, but his storytelling is a bit loose, and doesnt grab me
his word choice and descriptions are always amazing tho
good overall collection
might be better if i knew what love was, haha
Peter Gooch
Aug 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great set of stories by a master. At his best, Dybek infuses his work with an intriguing, understated mystery that sets them apart. This book could serve as a textbook on how to write short stories. Each tale is as fragile and fleeting as the title suggests.
Oct 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
Really interesting stories . creative and make you pause. I really loved Ecstatic Cahoots and how imaginative those stories were. it's hard to compete with that. But these are great pre bedtime reads too.
Sep 12, 2018 rated it liked it
This collection was frequently overthought and overwrought but had two moments of pure magic: the surreal wanderings of Oceanic, and the perfect morsel of a titular story (although Paper Lantern is best consumed not in the book, but rather as read by ZZ Packer on the New Yorker Fiction podcast).
Lancelot Link
Jun 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
A collection of short stories that felt like nine punches in the gut. I mean this in a good way.
The only story worth reading was the one featured in the New Yorker Fiction podcast.
May 07, 2014 rated it really liked it

Reading like the lyrics from a sad love song with a surreal twist, Stuart Dybek has built an exquisite set of short stories for anyone with a lovelorn heart. Rendering romance into stories of despair, betrayal, ill-considered and frantically passionate relationships, Dybek shines a light into the dark, smoky, blistering bits of love from which so many of us try to hide.

In “Paper Lantern: Love Stories,” characters are drawn rich and taunt, wending their way
Jul 10, 2014 rated it really liked it
This book had a haunting quality that made the subject of love, or rather the art of love, feel like an ethereal journey, somehow both perilous and exhilarating, like being caught up in a tremendous tide. It has an element of the terrifying as well as the hypnotic beauty that is infatuation and captivation combined, imbued with an air of true devotion. There is a sense of confusion at times, bitter disillusionment, and tremendous beauty all wound up with stark ugliness and woe. Somehow it's all ...more
Feb 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2017
I liked this collection a touch more than Dybek's simultaneously published Ecstatic Cahoots, though (as many reviewers have already noted) the two truly do complement each other. In this collection, comprised of longer-form stories, it's possible to see how Dybek and expertly manipulate a narrative, progressing seamlessly from action to interiority and, then, leaping back into action at the very moment you forgot there was a plot at all. And, as seems Dybek's custom, all is coupled with beautifu ...more
Feb 21, 2015 rated it really liked it
I'd actually give this 3 1/2. It's a beautifully written, loosely linked collection of short stories and you can tell they're written by a careful old-school craftsperson laboring away, carrying on a dying tradition. It was also different writing from what I'm used to. I was constantly reading metaphors or simple word choices that surprised me, which was nice. Also some of the stories are structured in complicated, playful ways that he, as a artisan, pulls off. On the con side, there was somethi ...more
Jaclyn Bauer
Paper Lantern, a requiem for love, is an amalgamation of previously and separately published pieces that at times seem unrelated to love entirely. These stories are oozing with horror and sexual deviance, not to mention imbued with despair, fleeting emotions and pervasive notions of impermanence. What is so refreshing about this collection is that Dybek’s perspective is anything but a myopic view of love. With truck chases on highways, scandalous affairs and of course heated sexual encounters, D ...more
Jan 17, 2016 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed these stories for the writing--so skillful and often lyrical and sensual. Most are set in Chicago and reference actual locations and being from Chicago it is always fun to trip on familiar places. I will admit that at times I felt I wasn't really "getting it" but it still held my interest. The title of the book is a bit of a surprise as these certainly are unconventional love stories.

I received this book for free through Goodreads First Reads.
Lynette Bromiel
One of my favorite authors of all time... I just love the way he invokes the city of Chicago in a way that is so personal and recognizable, but also it could be any city in the world somehow at the same time. Magical realism is woven in beautifully and organically. The whole book feels like a dream or series of memories.
Aug 03, 2014 rated it liked it
I picked up this book because the June issue of The New Yorker RAVED about Stuart Dybek. While I do think that Dybek is a skilled writer, I did not really enjoy this collection of short stories. I loaned the book to another reader who is extremely well-read and literary and she concluded the same thing. "Paper Lantern: Love Stories" was not a literary love match for me.
Trevor Incogneato
Jul 11, 2014 rated it really liked it
Yah. 'Four Deuces' and 'Oceanic' are probably the best of the bunch; it's a good collection that is surely to have 'magic realism' tossed around when being described but I really felt Dybek was not afraid to flit from thought to thought without all the dressage of logic and all that 'therefore' biz
Jun 11, 2014 rated it really liked it
Overall, a satisfying, if disparate, collection. A few of the stories felt out of place, and were obviously written over a protracted period. However, when it worked, it worked very well: elegant forays into quasi prose poetry, and one of the few times I have read elements of magical realism applied successfully in the English language. Oceanic, in particular, was a standout.
Jeremy Dean
Aug 21, 2014 rated it did not like it
Terrible. Couldn't finish a single one. Wanted to throw it against the wall, but my wife had borrowed it from the library. Amateur and pathetic. Anyone rating this higher than two stars is probably an MFAtard.
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Stuart Dybek has published three short story collections: Childhood and Other Neighborhoods, The Coast of Chicago, and I Sailed With Magellan; and two volumes of poetry: Brass Knuckles and Streets in Their Own Ink. He has been anthologized frequently and regularly appears in magazines such as the New Yorker, the Atlantic, Harper’s Magazine and the Paris Review.

He has received numerous awards, incl
“I had this sudden awareness, she continues, of how the moments of our lives go out of existence before we're conscious of having lived them. It's only a relatively few moments that we get to keep and carry with us for the rest of our lives. Those moments are our lives. Or maybe it's more like those moments are the dots in what we call our lives, or the lines we draw between them, connecting them into imaginary pictures of ourselves.

You know, like those mythical pictures of constellations traced between stars. I remember how when I was a kid, I actually expected to be able to look up and see Pagasus spread out against the night. And when I couldn't, it seemed like a trick had been played on me, like a fraud. I thought, hey, if this is all there is to it, then I could reconnect the stars in any shape I wanted. I could create the Ken and Barbie constellations…

I realize we can never predict when those few special moments will occur, she says. How... there are certain people, not that many, who enter one's life with the power to make those moments happen. Maybe that's what falling in love means…the power to create for each other the moments by which we define ourselves.”
“I had this sudden awareness,' she continues, 'of how the moments of our lives go out of existence before we're conscious of having lived them. It's only a relatively few moments that we get to keep and carry with us for the rest of our lives. Those moments are our lives. Or maybe it's more like those moments are the dots in what we call our lives, or the lines we draw between them, connecting them into imaginary pictures of ourselves.” 8 likes
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