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The Wonders of the Invisible World
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The Wonders of the Invisible World

3.88  ·  Rating details ·  325 Ratings  ·  27 Reviews
The author of the highly acclaimed novels Jernigan (Pulitzer Prize Finalist) and Preston Falls (National Book Critics Cirlce Award Finalist) offers up a mordantly funny collection of short stories about the faulty bargains we make with ourselves to continure the high-wire act of living meaningful lives in late twentieth-century America.

Populated by highly educated men and
Paperback, 258 pages
Published June 26th 2007 (first published 1999)
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(showing 1-30)
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Dec 25, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Christ. I mean it’s good – obviously it’s good. David Gates is probably my favourite guy writing right now. Although I worry that this is more a dispositional thing for me than it is evidence of inherent literary merit.

Time, and time, and time, and time again, I read this and found thoughts that I've had articulated in a language maybe two or three notches above what I've used.
Which is to say I've no idea whether or not this is good, just all very familiar.

There are more fissions of recogniti
Simon A. Smith
Jul 30, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: short-fiction
Mr. Gates is a good read. I definitely could be projecting, but I feel like Gates and I would be chums. Judging from the stories/characters he appears to enjoy liquor, jazz music, academia and agnosticism (if not full blown atheism) and progressive politics, which I can totally appreciate. But it's that same love of intellectual pursuits and ivory tower type thinking, that trips me up at times slightly. The language is stilted at places, and a bit highfalutin, but overall I seemed to understand ...more
Marie Chow
Mar 24, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
4.5 out of 5 stars

Cut to the Chase:
Gates creates a hosts of characters who are ordinary, extraordinary, tragic, and believable: they are steeped in both cynicism and hope, they both loathe and love the environments around them, they talk to themselves, saying, “enough with the similes and sentimentalities!” yet often taking us there anyway. They’re meta — really meta — at times, always self-deprecating, make a host of mistakes and justifications (adultery, drugs, escape from the city to suburbia
Feb 27, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I want to like this book. The quality of Gates’s writing is fantastic. These stories are very short, and the length of them is just about perfect. Gates builds characters swiftly, and the reader feels intimately aware immediately of what is happening. If you have read Raymond Carver and loved it, you will love David Gates. They write along similar lines and with the same attitude. They write about broken, everyday people, perhaps with slightly above-average intelligence and suspicious morals. Th ...more
Margit Sage
Wonderful glimpse inside the character's heads. Raw emotion. Lots of internal monologue In a stream-of-consciousness style at times. It's amazing to me how well Gates can develop a character in such a short time through language choice in use of dialogue, a lot of internal monologue, and descriptive beats. He paints an incredibly clear picture of who these characters are as people in only a few pages. I've never read anything like it. A must-read if you're a writer.

The stories are not happy, alt
10 short stories. i like short stories. i liked this book well enough, but it was wanting. i wanted more from the characters i guess. all the reviews compare the author to chandler. i wasn’t so fond of chandler. the stories weren’t uplifiting. they were realistic and a little depressing.
one of the characters in the last story said something like, “i am more important than my pleasures.” actual quote to come when i get home. he was saying it about his bacon and egg breakfast. it was one of his p
May 10, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2008-read
When I think about just how much I enjoyed reading David Gates’ The Wonders of the Invisible World, I have to laugh. I got the book completely by mistake. I mooched it thinking it was a collection by David Schickler who wrote Kissing in Manhattan, another book I loved.

I find it difficult to write about books that I liked. It’s hard because I often come up, “I liked it because it was good” which is just about the lamest most unhelpful thing to say. It also doesn’t help that I recently read Salon
Aug 19, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: short-stories
I’m not even sure why I disliked this, except it tapped into what I like to call the Mad Men paradox: intellectually excellent, but no joy, no bristling dark energy to capture the imagination.

(Also, for what it’s worth, I first read the story “The Bad Thing” in Jeffrey Eugenide’s collection My Mistress’s Sparrow is Dead , and it stood out as one of the better. I had this book on my shelf before I read that one, but didn’t realize until reading it now that it opened with that same story. Again,
Mark Walker
Jul 05, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A good set of short stories. They do what great short stories should do, which is to immediately take the reader into the lives of others. There are recurrent themes throughout the stories, and the angry dissolute characters seem a little too similar. They also feel like the main protagonists of his novels, Jernigan and Preston Falls. But a number of the stories are written from different perspectives - a woman, and old man for example - and this helps to provide variety. David Gates is a good w ...more
Jun 09, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
David Gates wrote two quirky, critically acclaimed novels ("Jernigan" and "Preston Falls") in the 90's that I liked well enough to read twice each (and maybe will again). I wasn't aware of this short story collection published as a book in 1999 until recently. As with most short story collections, I enjoyed some more than others, but mostly more over less. All in all, darkly funny, poignant, smart character-driven stories that illustrate how human lives are messy and how we contribute to that me ...more
Margaux Lashbrook
I stumbled across this book, withdrawn from the local library.

I'm not a fan of short stories, I want more when reading, I need to discover the characters and places, however ,these stories have sucked me in from the opening sentences, each one unusual and yet including the ordinary rituals of life.
Nov 02, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I am not typically a fan of short stories, especially when the story ends while leaving me wanting more or at least a resolution. I especially don't like short stories about unlikeable people, and that's what this collection is. It's just not for me. The writing was ok, particularly with the realistic conversations, but just not enough to redeem them for me. 2 stars
Woody Lewis
Dec 02, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've been savoring this collection over the past few months, finally finished it. David's work intrigued me before I met him at Bennington. I "The Wronged Husband" in Ploughshares before I started the MFA program. That's included in this collection, and "The Mail Lady," the last piece, is an incredible story. Every one is fresh, a bit caustic, and so like the author...:)
Apr 30, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read a couple of the stories from this collection and enjoyed them a while back but the book definitely reads well as a collection.

Definitely very New York, even though some of the stories take place elsewhere.
May 27, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
i didn't finish it due to lack of interest. the stories were mellow and uninteresting. i was reading it just to get over it and decided against better judgement, that i shouldn't give the book that kind of treatment. so i put it down.
Jun 05, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, shortstories
Good, but still no Jernigan.
Aug 28, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: shortstories
new yorker writes stories, kind of sad. not bad
brilliant characters.
Editrix (Amy Lewis)
Feb 16, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reread
Can't wait for his new book to be published this spring, so went back to the book I've re-read the least.
Raw, pitch-perfect American stories. Gates really knows how to write a conversation. These people are angry and lovely all at once. Recommended!
Jun 29, 2007 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Some good, some not. Didn't hold my interest. Hard to wade through.
Jun 14, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Not for me. Perhaps it's too "perfectly" American for me: it seems uneventful, self-important, mundane. Perhaps I'll find a story that I like, and change my review. Stay tuned.
I'm just not feeling this collection. Some people have given it such great reviews that I won't pitch it, but I'm putting it back on the shelf for now. Maybe another time it'll be more "me."
Jan 17, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Hated it so much I couldn't read it.
Sep 08, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Oh, the agony of self-awareness! Brilliant stories! Expertly crafted! Memorable cahracters1 Emotionally complex plots! A must read!
Kate Wrenshall
May 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Well written, interesting, true to life, short stories. Loved this book.
Carlo Cattaneo
rated it liked it
Nov 06, 2014
rated it liked it
Mar 26, 2008
rated it liked it
Feb 26, 2014
Tanima Chatterjee
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Sep 05, 2014
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David Gates is an American journalist and author. He teaches in the graduate writing program at The University of Montana.
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