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An Authentic Captain Marvel Ring and Other…
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An Authentic Captain Marvel Ring and Other Stories

by Alan Cheuse

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This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Like most short story collections, Alan Cheuse's An Authentic Captain Marvel Ring starts to run out of steam if read consecutively. There's a lot of meditation on loneliness, and lots more men and women behaving badly. Infidelity, betrayal, distrust and dissatisfaction are the dominant themes.

The recurring location of Perth Amboy, NJ, was noticeable but it wasn't thematic or meaningful enough to tie the stories together into some sort of larger vignette. ( )
  jscape2000 | May 17, 2015 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
An Authentic Captain Marvel Ring and Other Stories by Alan Cheuse is a collection of short stories. Like many short story collections, this book contains a mixture of well-written, but of mostly uninspiring stories. The stories in this collection dwell on the sad, bleak parts of life lacking the range of emotions I expected from the book’s cover. However, there are a few stories that make the book a worthwhile addition to my short story collection. One might even make it into our short story group discussion. ( )
  eduscapes | Aug 21, 2014 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Normally I like a book of short stories but I didn't really get a few of Cheuse's stories and really only liked one. Wouldn't pick anything up by him in the future. ( )
  andsoitgoes | Aug 6, 2014 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
It's really hard to describe this book of short stories because each of them is so different. I selected this book because I loved the novel The Grandmother's Club by this author and wanted all of his stories to be as likable as that novel was. What I found was a collection of short stories that went from the very worst to the very best.

I really, really didn't want to finish the three-part story Pip. It was excruciating for me to read it, I found no favor in it at all, and I just wanted it to end quickly. This was a story taken from the characters of Herman Melville's Moby Dick (which I've never read nor do I hope to read).

The best story for me was, oddly enough, the last one. I am so happy that I forced myself to finish this book. If you only read one story in this collection, let it be "Days Given Over to Travel." All I will tell you about this story is that it's about an ailing mother remembering dancing with her son at his wedding. I still had tears in my eyes when I closed this book.

What do I think of this collection? It's not that great, but often I find that one or two marvelous stories can redeem a book. The last story in this collection did just that. ( )
  SqueakyChu | Jul 30, 2014 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Cheuse's genre (and it is a genre) is literary fiction, in which plot refers less to actions, and more to the growth or change of a character in response to the events that he or she encounters. As a result, I don't think it's a fair critique to say that "nothing happens." Things happen in every story, bu they are all internal to the protagonists.

But.

There is a sense of fatalism throughout these stories, a single-note of futility played over and over and over again. I found myself unwilling to get invested into any of the stories because I knew that the only emotion I could expect is a gray and depressing sense of subdued horror.

I found this frustrating, because the writing style was quite frankly excellent. Cheuse has a way with words, most notably a way with hooking the reader with the first line. He plays with language, makes it loop and whirl in non-intuitive ways. In fact, it makes certain passages quite a joy to read.

That dichotomy embodies my frustration with this book. The author takes an incredibly versatile and beautiful tool, and uses it in service of sadness, pain, and bleakness. Perhaps this is to the taste of some. It is not to mine. ( )
  shabacus | Jun 23, 2014 |
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Jagged reddish-orange lightning -shaped scores, a circle with compass arrow and points east west north south within, and in the center of the circle, an oval, an opening invisible unless you held it directly up to your eye, an opening--
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Once you pick up a book you're traveling... ("Days Given Over to Travel")
Every parent knows about time, how nothing stands between small children and grown children. ("Days Given Over to Them")
...the joy you feel when your children are born is matched only by the misery you feel when your parents go...a balancing act, life... (Days Given Over to Them")
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The very best short stories and novellas from National Public Radio's Alan Cheuse are brought together in this quintessential collection. These stories deal with life, death, love, family, work, and a deep exploration of the soul.

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