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The Frangipani Hotel: Fiction by Violet…
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The Frangipani Hotel: Fiction

by Violet Kupersmith

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Kupersmith's short stories start out with seemingly "normal" familiar scenes and situations. There is a run-down Vietnamese hotel, a night shift in a Houston market, a delivery driver on his regular run--nothing strange here, is there? But then there is a shift and weird things happen. I don't like this sort of comparison but I kept thinking of the stories of Saki (H.H. Monro). This book has been sitting on my shelf since March 2014 when I won it on the blog Books à la Mode

- sorry I let go unread for so long. I really like it.

Contents: Boat story; The Frangipani Hotel; Skin and bones; Little brother; The red veil; Guests; Turning back; One-finger; Descending dragon. ( )
  seeword | Jul 13, 2017 |
The Frangipani Hotel is a collection of ghost stories that creep up your spine even hours after you’ve read them. These vignettes of modern-day Vietnam and its people, the survivors and the refugees, aren't gruesome or gory; instead they evoke a sense of the ancient and unknown.

I received this book for free through the Goodreads First Reads program.

( )
  wandaly | Jun 30, 2016 |
ATTENTION! Nebula nominators and World Fantasy Award voters! You want to read this book!
Yes, I know it says "The Frangipani Hotel: Fiction." And the cover is ever so tastefully vague and understated. A more accurate title might be: "The Frangipani Hotel: Dark, Lush and Horrific Ghostly Tales of Vietnam." If the cover artist really wanted to reflect the content of the book, there'd be a creepy zombie walking through the fog, next to that quaint boat.

But, Kupersmith is clearly a new young author to watch. She does a fantastic job of melding Vietnamese folklore with the complex, rich realities of the country. Her writing style is graceful, and captures the nuances of horror - using understatement to great effect, contrasting the beautiful with the grisly.

My only complaint is that this collection of short stories is all too brief. I'll definitely be on the lookout for more from this author.

Contents:
Boat Story
Reception
Skin and Bones
Little Brother
The Red Veil
Guests
Turning Back
One-Finger
Descending Dragon

Copy received from NetGalley and Random House, which does not affect my review in any way. Thanks! ( )
  AltheaAnn | Feb 9, 2016 |
Wow! This is something different. Not just because this is my first review of a work of fiction – that’s not really important. I do not usually read this kind of book, so I hope my reviewing is fair. These are brilliant stories, with a strong sense of setting, yet at the same time they are universal. I had a clear picture in my mind not only of the location but also the characters and their behavior. The closest style I can compare it to is magical realism, but I am far from an expert on any of this. I don’t want to say too much about the contents of the book. The stories are succinct, and capture so much in a little space; there is no excess. The twists and turns the plots take are perhaps the most impressive aspect. These are not exactly ghosts stories in the “traditional” sense – not the wailing bed sheet, but something much less defined, and therefore much more sinister. A few of the stories feel like the protagonist is caught in a deal with a devil, the danger of having one’s soul and/or life stolen.

The titles of the stories are not as memorable for me as the stories themselves –that is, I remember the people and events, but not what the story was called. “Reception,” for example could be the title story, and may also be the best, or at least strongest in the collection. The hotel is very realistic and the supernatural is woven in masterfully. Throughout the book we see North Americans (like those in “Guests”) and Vietnamese in each other’s places and the inherent strangeness that is felt with such translocation. My perception of Vietnam – I have not yet been to Asia, so I can only perceive it – was pretty much of two different places: the one occupied by the U.S. in the war, and the country it is today, which resembles my perception of Thailand, Myanmar/Burma, or Cambodia and other neighbors. These stories link the two: the effects of the war are still felt, and even the French colonialism before that. One “fun fact” I learned (though maybe in a dark way) is that those sandwiches served on baguettes are a result of the European imperialism. These cultural pieces are tied in so well, they do not disrupt the telling of the story. This is a great accomplishment: expanding our literary worldview and capturing the reader’s attention and emotions at the same time.

Note: this book was provided through Net Galley, and my review also appears on my blog (http://matt-stats.blogspot.com/). ( )
  MattCembrola | Nov 27, 2015 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Blame it on Interpreter of Maladies. Ever since I read that moving, evocative collection of short stories I’ve been drawn to other collections with a distinct sense of place and exploring the experience of being a stranger in a strange land. The Frangipani Hotel is an enjoyable, imaginative entry into that genre with the added element of folktales intertwining with the supernatural. While it doesn’t rise to the level of Jumpa Lahiri’s masterpiece, it is a window into a world with traditions and culture that few Westerners know about. These are not ghost stories that are particularly frightening, but more unsettling, and give a sense of something unforgiving, whether they are set in Vietnam or among struggling immigrants and their children in the US.
There are things in the realism of it that stand out. The immigrant in Houston with a functional kitchen who washes dishes in a bucket in the bathroom. The huge rats scurrying along the market stall counters. The pathetic cat who wants desperately to be taken in. They are in their way as creepy and otherworldly as the semi-feral twins and the man who transforms into a snake. The writing is lovely and rich, the characters vivid in their particular anguish. The stories seem more like set pieces, though, rather than complete stories with and arc and a potent emotional punch. While most are a good length, they seem to peter out without much of anything happening or being resolved.
I’d be interested to see the world that Ms. Kupersmith creates in her first novel, which she is working on. I imagine it will be more satisfying for the reader to spend a whole book getting to know her fascinating characters and the world she creates around them. ( )
  goygirrl | Nov 12, 2015 |
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A collection of linked short stories about ghosts and hauntings in modern Vietnam and in the Vietnamese-American community. Some are inspired by old Vietnamese legends but reimagined in the post-1975 world--Provided by publisher.

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