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Twilight Of The Superheroes

3.59  ·  Rating details ·  1,140 Ratings  ·  155 Reviews
Deborah Eisenberg is almost unmatched in her mastery of the short story form. In this, her seventh collection, she demonstrates her virtuosic abilities in precisely distilled, unflinchingly honest studies of human connection and disconnection. From a group of friends whose luxurious Manhattan sublet becomes a front-row seat to the catastrophe of 9/11; to the Roman holiday ...more
Published July 20th 2007 by Picador USA (first published January 24th 2006)
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Community Reviews

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Glenn Sumi
Jan 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: short-stories
The final word in Deborah Eisenberg's marvellous collection of stories is "wartime," and, like every syllable she writes, it's precisely placed and significant.

These are tales for an uncertain time. Eisenberg's characters live lives that teeter on a ledge, with currents of violence, physical or emotional, about to knock them off at any moment.

The fallout of 9/11 hovers over the book, but only appears literally in the title story, a challenging elliptical tale partially set in a luxurious apartme
Aug 28, 2007 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People who like terrible writing
This book is emblematic of everything that's wrong with contemporary "literary" fiction. The only thing I can find of any interesting literary value here is the last paragraph or so of the titular first story. This book was reviewed well by a lot of publications, and I can't for the life of me understand why. I can only assume that the people who reviewed this book well are the same kind of people who like the whiny, affected fiction they print in The New Yorker and Diane Johnson's terrible nove ...more
Jun 26, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: my-hero
I just finished this book a few days ago and, looking through the table of contents now, I'm already having trouble recalling most of the stories. Partly this is because most of the titles don't connect to their stories in any recognizable way, so when I see "Window," it doesn't trigger "oh, yeah, the one where that creepy guy takes the girl to his isolated cabin to babysit his kid." Partly it's also because the stories themselves often didn't stick with me. The two elements most contributing to ...more
When people say that they don't read short stories because they want more character development, these are the stories to point them towards. Every character is fully human, with human hopes and baggage frailties. But if they say also that they don't read short stories because not enough happens, well, this book won't change their minds. Most of the plots in this book read like an anecdote about a friend that you might relate to another friend. "She went to New York to be with her family after h ...more
Aug 30, 2007 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bookgrove
Okay, I've now finished the book and I have to say that while it did get a little better, it wasn't by much.

The first story is AWFUL. She lectures you on things you already know, repeats the same crap over and over, and while the disjointed sections didn't really bother me, they didn't really add up to anything for me. It just seems like the story was pretty pointless. Unless the point was that after 9/11 we're just totally adrift. Maybe in the year or so afterwards it felt like that, but I don
Jan 02, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I've been reading this on and off for the past couple of years. From what I've read about Deborah Eisenberg, she's a self-taught writer and sort of emerged slowly and quietly to the literary scene. That's how these stories feel, too. There's nothing mechanical about them, nothing you'd expect from a writer that followed all the rules, made the necessary connections, and published with fanfare. The stories in this collection are unlike anything I've read, each an original masterpiece in emotional ...more
Mar 26, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: all short story fans
picked up from library Saturday, read title story last night - reaction to witnessing 9/11, pretty good... and they get better, but maybe it's just me getting accustomed to her style.

for once I agree with the quote on the cover: 'concentrated bursts of perfection'.
more later.. (hopefully)

Clare, my wife, read this after me and she said she enjoyed the beginnings of all the stories and some (Like it or Not) all the way through, but found the rest tailed off into 'wankery'. That is people talking
Where has Deborah Eisenberg been all my life? Or maybe I should ask, how did I miss her?
I picked this volume of short stories on a lark, as I was leaving the library, and what with the lurid cover, and especially after I had read a few of the negative reviews, did not anticipate their brilliance. In fact, I kept thinking that it was a fluke that I loved one, two three. well all of the stories except for the last one.
Everything that happens is out there waiting for you p133

to be continued
Feb 09, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

"The dining room was an aerie, a bower, hung with a playful lattice of garlands. Its white tile floors were adorned with painted baskets of fruit, and there were real ones scattered here and there on stands. But even as the waiters glided by with trays of glossy roasted vegetables and platters of fish, even while Harry took it upon himself to order for her, knowledgeably and solicitously, Kate felt tainted. Despite the room's conceit that eating was a pastime for elves and fairies, Mrs. Reitz's
Jenny (Reading Envy)
My frustration with these stories comes from feeling, as a reader, that I simply was not clever enough to understand the subtext in at least half of them. I wanted so much to know what was going on but I just wasn't getting enough information. Several were clearly influenced by the events of 9/11. I saw this on a list of some of the best books of the decade (2000-2009) but I'm not sure I'd recommend these stories.
Mikhail Yukhnovskiy
The structure of the stories is quite unusual to me, Deborah Eisenberg isn't much concerned with the traditional structure. Her stories are very intimate and sudden, as life itself. She ponders problems, inner crises and unspoken feelings of small people.

The stories are in some ways distinctly american, but when one continues reading the gentle tapestry of the sorrows, breakdowns and losses transcends nationality. These stories are very vividly and gently human. They are about all of us, even t
I may just have to give up on reading short stories. Every so often, I am seduced anew by the breathless, hagiographic blurbs on the cover of the latest hip author's contribution to the genre, to the point where I actually allow myself to believe that the book in question really will be "exhaustingly fascinating", "spirited and masterly", the next {Jim Shepard, Alice Munro, Chekhov, Lorrie Moore, John Cheever.....}. Hope springs eternal.

Yet somehow, things never quite turn out as promised. Usual
Chris Blocker
Sep 02, 2009 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition

I tried to muddle through this collection, but it was difficult. I had no idea what the author was talking about half the time. I couldn't figure out if she just had ADHD or I had an attention deficit disorder of my own. Take, for example, the following passage from the title story
"And actually, Russell (who seems to be not only Amity’s friend and possible suitor but also her agent) has obtained for Amity a whopping big advance from some outfit that Madison refers to as Cheeseball Editions
Kasa Cotugno
These stories deal with today, but more specifically, the "today" of four years ago. The title story is a gem, focussing on 20somethings whose nova like promise has begun to collapse even before the events of 9/11, for which they have an unfortunate front row seat. Shifting focus Eisenberg presents the preceding generation along with its shattered American dream of immigrants for their children and the transformation of New York into an "open wound." Eisenberg is able to compress entire historie ...more
Oct 05, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
"By stripping away quotation marks and the informational fat that might provide obvious explanations, by thrusting readers into the middle of a conversation with characters we have yet to meet properly or playing hot potato with point of view, Eisenberg tests just how much can be left out before a story drowns in enigma." So says Ben Marcus in his effusive New York Times' review, and I don't know if this statement better captures exactly what I found dreary about this book, or the critical aesth ...more
May 23, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The best of these stories — the title story and "Some Other, Better Otto" — are perfectly misshapen masterpieces chronicling The Way We Live Now. These are stories not only about the biggest questions of ethics and identity, but also about the processes by which we go about asking and answering such questions for ourselves.

A few of the stories lack the clarity and audacity of the collection's best, and occasionally Eisenberg's structural experimentation becomes frustrating or precious. Still wor
Jan 04, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Eisenberg is a very interesting writer. Sometimes I couldn't follow the logic of her sentences. But I was always impressed with her use of language and her sympathy for her characters. Her writing is not gimmicky.
The stories are organized from best to less good (in my opinion). I liked all of the characters very much. Especially with the first very long story, I felt like I could have stayed with those characters for much, much longer.
I would like to read more of her writing.
Aug 09, 2007 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I was disappointed by this book. I remember loving The Collected Stories of Deborah Eisenberg...So Far, and these stories didn't grab me the same way. They seemed to be *trying* to live up to a disaffected postmodern approach. Maybe I'm just not with it right now, but at some points I couldn't even figure out the abrupt time shifts. There were a few well-turned phrases, but not enough to make the book. Oh well.
Dec 29, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
This is a collection that will last--and continue to show what the possibilities are for the short story. I've read each story more than once, and some several times, because they stay exhilarating and moving. Eisenberg doesn't sound like anyone else, doesn't write like anyone else, and she brings me pleasures I can't find anywhere else.
Dec 06, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
hey halle, check out what i'm finally reading...
'Twilight of the Superheroes' is the Eisenberg's fourth collection (of 7 stories) of short stories. This is the latest collection that has been published so far. All the four collections are available in a single volume 'The Collected Stories Of Deborah Eisenberg'. Some pointers on her style before you start reading her works. The stories do not always have things tied up neatly at the end, there is no progression from point A to B to C. In several cases there are several strands shown to the re ...more
Apr 11, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shortlisted for the Worst Book Cover Art in 2008 (kidding, but not really), this collection of short fiction is hit and miss. The eponymous opening story was a huge whiff as far as I’m concerned, but things improve in subsequent stories. Sadly, the final piece is a real dud which left an unpleasant taste in my mouth. Comparing Eisenberg to Alice Munro strikes me as publisher hyperbole. At least in this collection, when she is on point the stories are good to great; when she's not, it’s pretty fr ...more
I love the way these stories seem to ramble, but slowly unfold, until towards the end you see the whole picture. First I was involved with the vividly drawn characters in these stories, then before I knew it I was engrossed. I liked them all, but favorites included the title story about the effects of the 9/11 World Trade disaster on disparate yet connected people; Some Other, Better Otto about a dysfunctional grown family; and Like It Or Not. But descriptions don’t do them justice.
Simone Subliminalpop
Raccolta molto buona. Magari la prima impressione potrà essere di troppa frammentarietà e/o visione esageratamente periferica, ma basta solo un po’ di partecipazione in più da parte del lettore, tutto qui, per capire che il motore di queste storie è qualcosa che tocca ognuno di noi: la paura di non essere in grado di affrontare il mondo e se stessi.

Tra i racconti migliori: “La finestra”, “La vendetta dei dinosauri” e “il difetto del disegno”.
Tito Quiling, Jr.
Sometimes my inclination for interesting covers exceed my judgment for the content, particularly when I'm going through piles of books in a limited amount of time. Although, part of me immediately thought of reading a watered down version of urban samaritans, perhaps even retired superheroes. That being said, the title may have a catchy title but the content says otherwise. While the stories seem to start out decently, one gradually loses the attention you have at the start and at one point, one ...more
Josh Ang
This is the first time I've tried reading Deborah Eisenberg and I'm simultaneously impressed by her non-linear narrative as much as bothered by it.

This narrative device of moving back and forth between the present and the past is most evident in the titular story about a bunch of young adults whose lives converge at a Manhattan loft. Their fortunes reflect the magnificent view of the vibrant city and also plunge as the twin towers collapse on 9/11.

In each of the six stories in this collection,
Eddy Ozoma
Feb 17, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mfa, 1st-term
Her writing is incredible. Every word is in service to the page. She brilliantly encapsulates character and creates worlds in just a few sentences. But for all of that world building and characterization, there's no plot. It's a book of short stories with surprisingly little story. Each piece is character introduction, maybe an event, lots of beautiful exposition, and then the story ends. I don't need wild adventures, but there's nothing compelling in these pages. It's too bad. Reading this book ...more
Zack Quaintance
Dec 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Deborah Eisenberg's 2006 short story collection, "Twilight of the Superheroes," is a natural extension of the stories in her 1997 collection, "All Around Atlantis." In the earlier volume, many of the protagonists were American's abroad, struggling with privilege and their roll in the suffering of marginalized populations exploited to ensure the continued prosperity of the United States. In Superheroes, Eisenberg's protagonists are home, grappling with a country thrust into turmoil.

It's fitting t
Dec 13, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In the past, if I had a choice between reading a novel and a collection of short stories, I would almost always go for the novel. After reading these stories by Deborah Eisenberg, that will no longer be the case. These are longish stories, six of them, with imaginative writing and characters that have stayed with me. Just what I hope to find in a novel. Funny, quirky, but also sad and frightening.

I like the fact that Eisenberg's stories don’t depend on a conventional beginning/middle/end. Inste
Jan 09, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: short-stories
A NY Times Notable Book of the Year from 2006 that got tons of press, this book is a collection of six short stories filled with the tension of lives post 9/11. The book’s title is the title of its first story, a look at the fractured lives of four twenty-something New Yorkers who were subletting an apartment with a view of the Twin Towers. “The Flaw in the Design” focuses on the tension between a son and his father; the son despises his family’s wealth and upbringing and his father’s job – whic ...more
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Born in Chicago, Eisenberg moved to New York City in the 1960's where she has lived ever since. She also teaches at the University of Virginia. Her writing has appeared in The New Yorker, The Yale Review, Vanity Fair, and Tin House. She has won the Rea Award for the Short Story, a Whiting Writer's Award, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and three O. Henry Awards.
More about Deborah Eisenberg

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“It's broadening. You meet people in your family you'd never happen to run into otherwise.” 8 likes
“Just think! Garden, garden, garden, garden, garden, two happy people, and it could have gone on forever! They knew, they'd been told, but they ate it anyway, and from there on out, 'family!' Shame, fear, jobs, mortality, envy, murder..."
"Well," William said brightly, "and sex.”
More quotes…