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Bobcat and Other Stories

by Rebecca Lee

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3775450,651 (3.91)30
Rebecca Lee, one of our most gifted and original short story writers, guides readers into a range of landscapes, both foreign and domestic, crafting stories as rich as novels. A student plagiarizes a paper and holds fast to her alibi until she finds herself complicit in the resurrection of one professor's shadowy past. A dinner party becomes the occasion for the dissolution of more than one marriage. A woman is hired to find a wife for the one true soulmate she's ever found. In all, Rebecca Lee traverses the terrain of infidelity, obligation, sacrifice, jealousy, and yet finally, optimism. Showing people at their most vulnerable, Lee creates characters so wonderfully flawed, so driven by their desire, so compelled to make sense of their human condition, that it's impossible not to feel for them when their fragile belief in romantic love, domestic bliss, or academic seclusion fails to provide them with the sort of force field they'd expected.… (more)
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English (53)  Piratical (1)  All languages (54)
Showing 1-5 of 53 (next | show all)
Beautiful and interesting with just a touch of mystery. Each story revolves around a first-person narrator and a unique person that stands out to them from their lives. Those characters were "full to the brim" with life, sometimes "overflowing." They all seem to be told from the perspective of some distance, and all but one have a female voice. Each is so carefully researched and crafted, I sometimes wondered why the author took the time! Despite, or maybe because of, that I found each one very immersive, and I felt a sense of disappointment when they ended. At first I didn't like how similar each story felt, but the more I think about it the more intentional it feels. A author like this wouldn't leave a single detail un-crafted. ( )
  nancyjean19 | Jun 3, 2020 |
These stories were pleasant to read. I liked and identified with "Slatland" the most.
It was a quick but rewarding read. There's humor to spare and just the tiniest hint of the strange.
I would call this collection very light, almost ethereal, reading. ( )
  LSPopovich | Apr 8, 2020 |
Rebecca Lee has a strong collection in Bobcat. I was particularly struck by the unique perspective of her narrators as they navigate significant, but not earth-shattering, emotional situations. The myriad of perspectives of the college campus for instance, The Banks of the Vistula told from the perspective of an undergraduate student versus World Party, narrated by a professor of Roman Antiquity. Lee seems to effortlessly construct these complex narrators, some without much history as in Fialta, but brings them to life in their present circumstances, not an easy feat. I would have liked to have gotten more out of Slatland, the middle felt a bit thin given the bulk bookending the material, and the landscape, a significant feature of Saskatchewan, seemed almost absent though the protagonist travels widely through the province. ( )
  b.masonjudy | Apr 3, 2020 |
I didn't love this book. Nor did I hate it. It fell somewhere in between a feeling of indifference towards the stories and admiration for writing skill. There is no doubt that Rebecca Lee is clever and witty, but it somehow didn't translate for me in any of the selections in this book. I caught myself admiring a well written sentence and completely missing the wider picture. I often found the climax so subtle that I wasn't even sure if there was one - it felt like there was rising action and falling action and the absence of a tipping point. There were interesting bits - infidelity, marriage arranging, but not in every story.

* I received this book for free from Goodreads First Reads. ( )
  carliwi | Sep 23, 2019 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
“As I walked home, I turned back and saw through the trees again that window, ringing with clarity and light above the dark grounds, the way the imagination shines above the dark world, as inaccessible as love, even as it casts its light all around.”

Bobcat and Other Stories is a collection of seven short stories. There is a softness to Lee’s writing and a melancholy that hangs over the book. The stories themselves give the impression that there is a before and after to each world, with the text nestled in between. It speaks to the skill of the author that Lee was able to populate worlds that are larger on the inside. The reader only dips in for a short moment in the lives of the characters but details in description and dialogue create the idea that events will continue to unfold long after the story is over. The endings however all have a truncated feel to them and rather than creating a desire for more content, it left me with the idea that they were incomplete or rushed.

Also the unity of voice throughout the stories was appreciated because they helped to create a cohesiveness to the book overall. But this also meant there was a tedious repetition to the protagonists in each story to the point where it was difficult to distinguish between them. It created the question of whether the stories were in some way connected as each was told through a first person perspective with themes of deception, acadaemia, familial discord and writing. It appeared to be too much of a coincidence to keep finding similar ideas throughout each story but perhaps that was the reason for them to be collected together in this manner. Instead the only variance appeared to be in length of story.

This would be a great option for a rainy day coffee read if you’re looking for some light and short reading. ( )
  theduckthief | Jul 9, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 53 (next | show all)
Overall, this is a potent, quietly daring and sturdily imagined collection, rich with a subtlety in short supply in our current short-fiction landscape, where writers seem to settle for lobbing verbal grenades in the reader’s general direction. In stories like “Bobcat” and “Fialta,” there is the real sense of significance, as though a whole subway system’s worth of meaning is roaring beneath the text, ready to whisk the reader anywhere they need to go.
 
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Epigraph
Somewhere someone is traveling furiously toward you,
At incredible speed, traveling day and night,
Through blizzards and desert heat, across torrents, through
Narrow passes.
But will he know where to find you,
Recognize you when he sees you,
Give you the gin he has for you?
—John Ashbery
Dedication
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It was the terrine that got to me.
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Rebecca Lee, one of our most gifted and original short story writers, guides readers into a range of landscapes, both foreign and domestic, crafting stories as rich as novels. A student plagiarizes a paper and holds fast to her alibi until she finds herself complicit in the resurrection of one professor's shadowy past. A dinner party becomes the occasion for the dissolution of more than one marriage. A woman is hired to find a wife for the one true soulmate she's ever found. In all, Rebecca Lee traverses the terrain of infidelity, obligation, sacrifice, jealousy, and yet finally, optimism. Showing people at their most vulnerable, Lee creates characters so wonderfully flawed, so driven by their desire, so compelled to make sense of their human condition, that it's impossible not to feel for them when their fragile belief in romantic love, domestic bliss, or academic seclusion fails to provide them with the sort of force field they'd expected.

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Book description
At turns heartbreaking and wise, tender and wry, Bobcat and Other Stories establishes Rebecca Lee as one of the most powerful and original voices in Canadian literature.

A university student on her summer abroad is offered the unusual task of arranging a friend's marriage. Secret infidelities and one guest's dubious bobcat-related injury propel a Manhattan dinner party to its unexpected conclusion. Students at an elite architecture retreat seek the wisdom of their revered mentor but end up learning more about themselves and one another than about their shared craft.

In these acutely observed and scaldingly honest stories Lee gives us characters who are complex and flawed, cracking open their fragile beliefs and exposing the paradoxes that lie within their romantic and intellectual pursuits. Whether they're in the countryside of the American Midwest, on a dusty prairie road in Saskatchewan, or among the skyscrapers and voluptuous hills of Hong Kong, the terrain is never as difficult to navigate as their own histories and desires.
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