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Object Lessons: The Paris Review Presents the Art of the Short Story (edition 2012)

by Lorin Stein, Sadie Stein (Editor)

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243443,774 (4)5
Member:CarolynSchroeder
Title:Object Lessons: The Paris Review Presents the Art of the Short Story
Authors:Lorin Stein
Other authors:Sadie Stein (Editor)
Info:Picador (2012), Paperback, 368 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:*1/2
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Object Lessons: The Paris Review Presents the Art of the Short Story by The Paris Review

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I'm not much of a short story fan, but I wanted to force myself. I am glad I did. There is a wide range of excellent, compelling stories here from the realistic to the fantastic to the absurd. The introductions are of some value, causing the reader to focus on certain elements of each story, but the stories themselves make this a great, almost indispensable, anthology of contemporary short fiction. Of course, if you have already read these stories, then you probably don't need this anthology. ( )
  malrubius | Apr 2, 2013 |
Over sixty years, one might guess that a journal as prestigious as The Paris Review will have published one or two or twenty truly outstanding short stories. The twenty stories presented in Object Lessons were selected from The Paris Review’s back catalogue by twenty current practitioners of the short story form, each of whom introduces their selection with some reflections, or analysis, or generalized enthusing.

The stories selected display significant range and variation, and most would easily be acknowledged as exemplars of what is possible with this form. Some will be well known already, such as Raymond Carver’s “Why Don’t You Dance”, or Jorge Luis Borges’ “Funes, the Memorious”. Others deserve to be better known, perhaps, than they are, such as Norman Rush’s “Lying Presences” or Mary Robison’s “Likely Lake” or Mary-Beth Hughes’ “Pelican Song”. And others will simply fascinate you, such as Denis Johnson’s “Car Crash While Hitchhiking” or Guy Davenport’s “Dinner at the Bank of England” or Dallas Wiebe’s “Night Flight to Stockholm”.

So, you can rest assured that the story content of this collection will be well worth the price of admission. Less satisfactory are the short introductory essays by the nominal selectors of the stories. I get the impression that either the brief for these essays was not particularly clear, or that getting twenty young(ish) authors to follow a brief is rather like herding cats. Some treated the exercise like an exercise in a textbook on aspects of the short story. Others took their task to be championing an author they felt to be sorely neglected. Others just blurbed, as though they were composing an extended blurb for the back cover of a book that contained one and only one short story. So, the usefulness of these introductions is somewhat tempered.

Least satisfying, even to the point of being annoying, is the patronising editors’ note at the outset, which is reproduced in part on the back cover. Apparently this collection is intended “for readers who are not (or are no longer) in the habit of reading short stories”. I’m not entirely certain how such a statement of intent is meant to motivate these non-readers of short stories to pick up this volume, or even purchase it. It certainly would not have motivated me. Rather, let’s just say that Object Lessons is a treat for those who love short stories, or for those who may come to love the form through encountering the stories herein. Recommended on that basis. ( )
  RandyMetcalfe | Feb 15, 2013 |
The Paris Review is a highly regarded quarterly literary magazine. Started in 1953 by George Plimpton, The Review is well known for publishing the work of contemporary authors, both established and emerging. Each spring The Review awards prizes to distinguished authors published during the previous year. Examples of recipients are: John Ashbery, Joan Didion, Norman Mailer, Peter Matthiessen, George Plimpton, Barney Rosset, William Styron, Philip Roth and James Salter. Many of the authors of the Paris Review have received the National Book Award and other prestigious honors. Realizing the importance of The Paris Review, I decided it would be "good for me" to read "Object Lessons."

For me, reading "Object Lessons" was like visiting a museum of modern art. I look at the work of famous artists like Jackson Pollack and wonder why it is great art and, more important, why is it art?

I know that the twenty authors selecting and presenting the short stories in this anthology are all preeminent in their fields and the stories represent important work published in The Paris Review. However, most of the introductions and many of the stories left me questioning what I was missing. In fact, I almost gave up after reading Jorge Luis Borge's "Funes the Memorious." Others, like "Several Garlic Tales," by Donald Barthelme and "Dimmer," by Joy Williams, just left me cold.

Most of the introductions did not shed much light on the craft or the reasons for the selection. Yet, I forged on and was rewarded by several very enjoyable, well-written short stories, including "The Palace Thief," by Ethan Canin; "The Beau Monde of Mrs. Bridge," by Evan S. Connell and "Night Flight to Stockholm," by Dallas Wiebe. The last story is truly amazing - shocking, horrible and amazing.

"Object Lessons," is a mixed bag. Many of the stories made me appreciate the shortness of a short story, but some were quite satisfying and delicious experiences. In my view, like art, it's personal. ( )
1 vote brendajanefrank | Sep 18, 2012 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
The Paris Reviewprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Stein, LorinEditormain authorall editionsconfirmed
Stein, SadieEditormain authorall editionsconfirmed
Alarcón, DanielIntroductionsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Barthelme, DonaldContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Beattie, AnnIntroductionsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bezmozgis, DavidIntroductionsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Borges, Jorge LuisContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bowles, JaneContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Canin, EthanContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Carver, RaymondContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Connell, Evan S.Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Cooper, BernardContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Davenport, GuyContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Davis, LydiaContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Davis, LydiaIntroductionsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Eggers, DaveIntroductionsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Eugenides, JeffreyIntroductionsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Gaitskill, MaryIntroductionsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Glynn, ThomasContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Hemon, AleksandarIntroductionsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Hempel, AmyIntroductionsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Hughes, Mary-BethContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Johnson, DenisContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Lethem, JonathanIntroductionsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Lipsyte, SamIntroductionsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Marcus, BenIntroductionsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Means, DavidIntroductionsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Michaels, LeonardContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Milhauser, StevenContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Moore, LorrieIntroductionsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Nova, CraigContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Orozco, DanielIntroductionsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Robison, MaryContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Rush, NormanContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Rush, NormanIntroductionsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Salter, JamesContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Simpson, MonaIntroductionsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Smith, AliIntroductionsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Tower, WellsIntroductionsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Wiebe, DallasContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Williams, JoyIntroductionsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Williams, JoyContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
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Twenty contemporary authors introduce 20 examples of the short story from the pages of "The Paris Review."

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