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Black Tickets: Stories

really liked it 4.00  ·  Rating details ·  1,093 ratings  ·  83 reviews
Jayne Anne Phillips's reputation-making debut collection paved the way for a new generation of writers. Raved about by reviewers and embraced by the likes of Raymond Carver, Frank Conroy, Annie Dillard, and Nadine Gordimer, Black Tickets now stands as a classic.

With an uncanny ability to depict the lives of men and women who rarely register in American literature, Phillips
Paperback, 288 pages
Published September 11th 2001 by Vintage (first published September 28th 1979)
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really liked it Average rating 4.00  · 
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...the girl half dazed on sidewalk falls over, lays down like she’s home.

Black Tickets is a book of startling confessions, refuted sins and daring apathy. It’s beautiful, unsettling and reckless. It’s an acerbic masterpiece which recoils at the thought of refinement and perfection. It belongs to a different world- a world of cheap motels and flickering neon lights, of broken homes and failed road trips, of stifling love and unfathomable desire. It’s like a foreign movie that seeks stories in clo
Jan 12, 2009 rated it it was amazing
If someone asked me to describe Flannery O'Connor as music, I'd refer them to classic blues and hard-edged folk like Son House and Leadbelly and early Dylan.

If someone asked me to describe Jayne Anne Phillips' Black Tickets as music, I'd sit her down with a playlist that included a narrow band of blues/post-blues tunes infused with rock and punk, like Peter Green's Fleetwood Mac doing I Loved Another Woman , Catpower singing Robert Johnson's Come on in My Kitchen , PJ Harvey doing Dylan's Highw
I got this because I read that her style was an inspiration to William Gibson when he wrote Neuromancer. Maybe. It's a bunch of short stories told in stream-of-consciousness. I could guess at origins & where they would go afterward, but these were ugly snapshots. A very little went a long way. For instance, one of the early stories is a young girl (12?) thinking about the people that she will & has had sex with.

I didn't care for the style, although since they were short stories, stream-of-consc
Jul 05, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I live to find books like this. I don't know what I want to do with my life other than find those books that make you vibrate with excitement - this was one of those books. Sometimes it feels like I'll never find another book that hits me hard, ever again and then I do and my faith is restored. The only reason I want to live to be old, old, old is so that I might find every good book in the world and experience what I felt with reading this, it was amazing.

Some of the stories lost me but I think
Jan 08, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ground-breaking, brilliant, masterful.

I'm sure many writers have been inspired by the stories in this collection. Phillips published these stories in the 70's, the style of which now seem to be all over the internet. I have to admit that there were two stories that befuddled me at their ends (as a lot of these short-short stories in general seem to do to me) but I still think that's my lack of perception and not the author's fault.

Two of the stories also seem to have the same female lead charact
Oct 29, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I'm embarrassed to say I had not read the complete book before, just the shorter stories in various anthologies. While I had always enjoyed her brief ones, I was blown away by the longer ones. I can only imagine why this book is not taught more in Lit classes, perhaps because of the very gritty content, but it should be. It's a real lesson on what can be done with the English language and with narrative voice. I was less entranced by the title story than by some of the others, such as Country. S ...more
Laura Toto
Jan 30, 2010 rated it it was amazing
If anyone is interested where poetry meets prose, this is where it begins. Astonishingly forward and musical. The beat, the hum of her writing, it is like the beating of one's heart.
Richard  Thomas
Mar 18, 2011 rated it it was amazing
So thrilled to have found JAP. She certainly gives Mary Gaitskill a run for her money. Dark, sexy, surreal stories, this was a real joy to read. Also, this must have been some of the first flash fiction, back in 1975. Great collection, off to read more of her work.
Lynne Favreau
Mar 16, 2012 rated it liked it
Jayne Anne Phillip’s collection of short stories Black Tickets were touted as “original” and “the best since Eudora Welty” and “early genius” upon first publication in 1979.

In 2008, I didn’t find them to be all that compelling or original, but that may be a sign of the times. I just don’t believe that if these were published today for the first time they’d inspire the same accolades. And isn't that the test of a classic, standing the test of time?

The use of shock and rawness as a literary devic
Apr 08, 2016 rated it liked it
This is her first collection. With early stories, there's a sense of adventurousness--but there can also be pretense and self-indulgence. Some of the stories are so oblique and almost intentionally confusing that I found myself wishing a given story would end. The technique is hit and miss. Phillips often writes about sex--the dirtier and sleazier the better. There are no cotillions or country clubs in these stories; they're all set in the worst parts of the worst towns. I like that.

What I don'
Jul 06, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Ok. another rule-breaker.. read this one AGES ago, but I just added Christie Malry's Own Double entry, because it was one of the few books that made me laugh out loud (and to cry as well), and on that flip side, I add, Jayne Anne Phillips's short story collection, Black Tickets.
As the book-track of my life goes this is a huge milestone. As I recall, I stumbled upon this as a junior in high school, i think I had just gone to a reading by Harlan Ellison (who! a story for another time!), and there
Jul 11, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: thesis-research
The first half of this was slow-going for me (aside from "Home"); and I struggled with what sort of rating to give this book.
With some of the stories ("Lechery," "Black Tickets," "El Paso," and many of the short-shorts) a lot of the action seemed buried under names and weirdness and poetry; I've seen this done in more recent collections as well, but somehow better?
However, things did improve later on, "Gemcrack" was written in the same style as the aforementioned stories but the elements came
This collection walks a tightrope wire of dense, lyrically visceral prose. As such, it is a bit uneven. Certain stories sing with a meld of memory and present, others seem too unmoored. Many of the stories are so brief that they seem to be portraits: a quick, charcoal sketch, drawn in furious haste. I have mixed feelings on whether or not they are successful.

Still, I give this collection 4 stars because when it works, it really works, and I found myself provoked and challenged, even by the lesse
Dec 03, 2015 rated it did not like it
Books don't just consist of words on a page, every reader brings their own life stories, perceptions and context to every book they read. That may be why I did not enjoy "Black Tickets". I was reading these short stories in various doctors offices, E.R.s and hospital rooms. I don't recommend this as hospital reading. It's dark. Even I could see that the author does a good job with parent/grown child relationships, and certain stories were strong, but the rest felt like swimming in mud.
Sep 03, 2009 rated it really liked it
Hard, hard short stories written by a native West Virginian. They speak to the lives of our most disenfranchised and they are disturbing. I will probably re-read at some point because I could sense an arc to the stories that may merit further exploration.
Jan 01, 2008 rated it really liked it
Great collection of short stories that exhibit impressive economy. Sparse punctuation, no quotes, plenty of fragments. Often stories lasted no more than a three paragraphs over two pages. A must-read for any one interested in the art of conveying more with less.
Dec 07, 2015 rated it really liked it
Well it was a little bit hard for a non English reader
They were confusing thoroughly descriptive
Super strong very shattering
Super depressing and some stories you just wish they'd stop
It was like listening to nails scratching on a chalk board while bathing in shit rain and fire
Oct 04, 2008 rated it it was ok
Unremittingly, almost ceaselessly grim. But you can almost hear the sentences crunch as she tries to sound "literary."
Jul 15, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
gritty unflinching poetic unsettling stories. been holding onto this for the right time for a long time; it was more intoxicating & harder work than i expected. deserves better than the guardian’s review: “a sort of female equivalent of our own ian mcewan” 🙄. not flawless, now - she’s strongest when working with voices & in dialogue - the stories i loved most were the ones with voice & immediacy. some of the others were flatter, both distant & somehow relentless. not for everyone, but what is?

Kat Saunders
Nov 20, 2019 rated it it was ok
There were a handful of stories that I thought were particularly good--usually the ones involving mothers and daughters. The best evoked Bonnie Jo Campbell's most recent collection of short stories, but unfortunately, I found much of the rest overly written, obscure, repetitive, and dull. I love great flash prose, and I think some of the ones included here were occasionally great. But many just left me wondering, "So what?" Many of the better ones seemed to be gesturing towards something interes ...more
Steve Petkus
Aug 21, 2018 rated it did not like it
This gets raves from others, but I couldn't stand it and quit reading after finishing about a third of it. For a book that's supposed to be a classic, I found it unreadable. I do appreciate writers who privilege voice--George Saunders, for example--but here, Phillips seems to me to privilege the stylized voices of downtrodden and/or nasty characters over making actual narrative sense. The result to me was, for the chunk I read, the intimation of unrelenting awfulness happening somewhere to someo ...more
Oct 27, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: shortstories, 2017
This collection of stories have a common theme: they're either very dark or very raw (and sometimes both). Phillips' imagery is vivid and her stories are engaging, but many will make you work to discern their meaning. I enjoyed most of these stories, though a few left me feeling like I missed something. Perhaps this collection caught me at a time when I'm feeling too lazy to do the requisite analysis.
Nov 15, 2018 rated it did not like it
Horrible. People actually like this crap? After a few trying paragraphs I knew it wasn't for me. It was like a child wrote it. Well, the style anyway. The majority of the subject matter (I think?) was disgusting and full of gross sexual material. It made me feel dirty and disgusted that anyone would write this and call it entertainment.
Vivienne Strauss
Jan 09, 2020 rated it liked it
Not an easy book to rate- some stories were amazing while others left me feeling completely indifferent.
Aug 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
Dirty surrealist? Maybe, sometimes.
Sep 10, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: short-stories
Didn’t finish / not the right time.
Going to give it another whirl.
Apr 21, 2016 rated it liked it
I feel a little bad about giving this book only three stars, but it suffers from something which almost all single-author collections of short stories suffer from: reading so many stories consecutively by the same author saturates the ear and causes the authorial voice to become repetitive.

Jane Anne Phillips loves certain descriptive formulations: [body part] under [cloth type]; something that has nothing to do with sex called sexual; the sun is something else (moon, a ring, bees); light does so
Ryan Werner
Sep 16, 2009 rated it it was ok
Aside from "1934" and "El Paso" (which I add begrudgingly, as it did almost the same thing as "1934" except poorly), Black Tickets is a series of eye-rolling, "look at me using the word 'cunt' in the 70's" imagery stacked up on top of itself for no apparent reason. When Phillips can avoid talking about licking someone's thighs or wafting in the stars or grinding inside another being, she's not a bad writer. However, even when those moments come about, she more often than not ends up falling into ...more
Jan 31, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I got this off some essential reading list from either WSJ or 'New York' Magazine. . .it completely blew me away. Her writing is just amazing - very descriptive, almost poetic but very dark at the same time.

These are thematically linked short stories and vignettes; a look into the lives of those going through some (generally dark or less pleasant) transformation. Yet most of them are hopeful, and she's a really great storyteller.

This is a really great read; I'd say it should be on college readin
Oct 08, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I love Jayne Anne Phillips. Reading her work is like entering a dream. You forget to breathe. You read sentences over and over for their beauty. With surgical precision Phillips exposes the underbelly of life in these stories. They are not romantic. The characters are not heroic. There are no neat endings. The stories in BLACK TICKETS just quietly burn. They are disturbing but brilliantly so. They will stay under your skin.
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Jayne Anne Phillips is an American novelist and short story writer. Phillips graduated from West Virginia University, earning a B.A. in 1974, and later graduated from the Iowa Writers' Workshop at the University of Iowa.

Phillips has held teaching positions at several colleges and universities, including Harvard University, Williams College, and Boston University. She is currently Professor of Engl

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