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The One Marvelous Thing

3.52  ·  Rating details ·  66 Ratings  ·  15 Reviews
Winner of a 2007 American Academy of Arts and Letters, Rikki Ducornet is beloved as a novelist and essayist, but is known perhaps most of all for her work as a writer of short stories. In the tradition of Italo Calvino, Donald Barthelme, and Angela Carter, Ducornet creates modern-day fables filled with characters as complex and surprising as any in American short fiction. ...more
Paperback, 161 pages
Published November 1st 2008 by Dalkey Archive Press (first published 2008)
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Community Reviews

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Mike Puma
Jan 14, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: dalkey-archive, 2015

Briefly: Alas, I wish this one had worked as well for me as it did for MJ. It didn’t. Potential readers would be well advised to read his review and forgo my grousing over a collection that buckles from its relentless commitment to the peculiar, seemingly, the peculiar for peculiar’s sake. Each short story becomes increasingly strange offering little for readers to hang their hats on, other than the illustrations, which do add to the collection as a whole. She Thinks Dots was, for me, the best o

MJ Nicholls
In these typically beguiling and concise stories, enlivened by illustrations by T. Motley, Ducornet furthers her preoccupation with Rabelais, Swift, and Carroll—treating the reader to tales of bodily ingestions and emissions, the ecosystems of invented magical and grotesque creatures, and darkly humorous takes on sundered marital alliances. Opening lament ‘The Wild Child’ is narrated by a repentant feral creature, banished from her kingdom to a “cellar darker and colder than the bunghole of a co ...more
Jul 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: darling-rikki
'Been Slacking/Catching-Up on Reviews' Review:

Pretty much everything you need or expect from Rikki here, except in the super-abbreviated form. French, fucking, fairy tales. You can remove the commas if you'd like. Oh, and the word 'cunthole.' Because, yeah; no book is complete without that lovely term.

If you need a headchange and are all out of Schlitz, you can do worse by a long shot. Fun and has pretty pictures to boot.
Apr 30, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: shortstories
I ADORE Rikki Ducornet and her public displays of affection for language. But too many of these stories were sad and, ironically, too dark for me. They're smart and they ring true.. but my favorite passages by Ducornet are joyful and sensual, and most of these tales ended on a depressing note with no buzz of joy to be found. I take that as a sign of the times, but I won't re-read this collection the way I've re-read "Phosphor in Dreamland."
Jan 31, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Lithe, wicked, gorgeous genius! These works get "under your skin," "caught in your throat" & "tug at your heart" (to play--as the author does--with borrowed 'doxa' and its ability to give an instant x-ray of a epoch, speaker, and culture). The searing images capture something of performative quality of these tattoo-like tales / prose poems by an astonishing and marvelous writer.....
Dec 19, 2008 rated it liked it
If you have read The Butcher's Tales, don't be surprised if you feel deja vu while reading The One Marvelous Thing. There are recycled stories, though in the case of "The Butcher's Comics" they are re-imagined. The drawings are a good fit for Rikki Ducornet's style: abstract, grotesque, and imbued with joy as much as the bizarre. There purpose fluctuates throughout the book. Sometimes they illustrate the story, other times they are autonomous. Occasionally, they are distracting.
Why didn't Rikki
I... idek. Maybe I'm just uncultured, but I never get the point of this sort of thing. I don't necessarily need linear, straightforward narratives or anything, but I need... a point? Maybe there was a point and I just don't get it, or maybe the point was that there is no point. Whatever the case, it left me scratching my head. But the writing was evocative, and some of the stories were surprisingly funny, and the imagery was delightfully odd. Interestingly, many (most?) of the stories weren't at ...more
Dec 08, 2015 rated it did not like it
Shelves: short-stories
I bought this book after reading the first story "The Wild Child", and couldn't wait to get it home and read the rest. I could not have been more misled and disappointed. Not one of the other stories is like the opener, which promises a raw, fairy tale-like magic brought to life with rich, evocative use of language. Every story after that read like a disaffected post-modern "look at me winking at you" act. Even though this is undoubtedly the worst short story collection I've read, I might still ...more
Jan 15, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: short-stories
A collections of short stories accompanied with various drawings by T. Motley and then combining to end with The Butcher’s Comics. Strong stuff, and not for everyone. They lost me with the comic books, and the pornographic mad magazine drawings, but I loved the one of the scarecrow and the book-birds that finished The Author in Estonia. The short stories either left me wanting more (The Wild Child, Green Air) or ended on a perfect note (A Secret Life, A Suicide.)
Sep 02, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This short paperbook is packed with brief writings (some of them aren't even stories) and many illustrations by T. Motley. There were even some graphic stories at the end. I was blown away by the bizarre creativity of this author, though some stories didn't grab me as much as others, especially those around the middle of the book. I may look into other writings by her.
Feb 08, 2012 rated it it was amazing
An extraordinary collaboration between two brilliant artists, Rikki Ducornet and the artist, T. Motley, in this collection of illustrated short stories. Let's hope it's not the last time these suns collide!
Snail in Danger (Sid) Nicolaides
The first few stories were delicious: like something the evil-universe version of Mary Oliver would write. After that, they seemed to just be ... dark or vulgar or shocking just because they could, despite a few delightful images or turns of phrase here and there.
Feb 16, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: small-press, 2016
An enjoyable read full of Rabelaisian humor, hyperbole and wordplay accompanied by irreverent illustrations by T. Motley. Readers looking for more conventional stories should try The Complete Butcher's Tales.
Dec 02, 2008 rated it really liked it
Some of the stories lost me, but there were a couple awesomes that I immediately reread. Love her anger.
Jul 09, 2008 marked it as not-read
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Rikki Ducornet (born Erica DeGre, April 19, 1943 in Canton, New York) is an American postmodernist, writer, poet, and artist.

Ducornet's father was a professor of sociology, and her mother hosted community-interest programs on radio and television. Ducornet grew up on the campus of Bard College in New York, earning a B.A. in Fine Arts from the same institution in 1964. While at Bard she met Robert
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