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Daydreams of Angels: Stories by Heather…
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Daydreams of Angels: Stories

by Heather O'Neill

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636188,983 (3.97)27
  1. 20
    Lullabies for Little Criminals by Heather O'Neill (gypsysmom)
    gypsysmom: Heather O'Neill's first book which came to attention when it won Canada Reads in 2007
  2. 00
    Vampires in the Lemon Grove: Stories by Karen Russell (RidgewayGirl)
    RidgewayGirl: Similar otherworldly, fantastical feel to these short stories.
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» See also 27 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 6 (next | show all)
This entire book feels like a fever dream, and I mean that in the best way possible. Each of these stories is weird and thought-provoking, funny and disturbing. A personal favourite was the one about Jesus in middle school, but frankly, they're all absolute gems. ( )
  bucketofrhymes | Dec 13, 2017 |
Short stories that read like fairytales, sometimes R-rated. The lyrical style of the writing is excellent. the earlier stories were generally more enjoyable than the later stories. Lots of stories about very poor kids (I internalized those stories too much and felt very poor myself). It would be very interesting to meet the author of these stories, some of them are so off the wall and imaginative I wonder what kind of person it takes to create them.

Not for the conservative reader. ( )
  LDVoorberg | Dec 3, 2017 |
Generally speaking I don't like collections of short stories by one author. The exception to that rule is the brilliant short fiction written by the Canadian Nobel Laureate Alice Munro. Few writers come close to her facility for containing whole worlds in a short story. I also generally don't like stories that use magic as a way to move the plot along and I found that many of the stories in this collection were like that. The one story I really liked, The Man Without a Heart, was realistic and full of details that endeared the characters to me. It is the story of a little boy whose mother has an affair with a heroin user who was off the drug at the time. While they lived together the man played with the little boy and became very fond of him. When he started using again the mother kicked him out but she allowed him to take the boy out on occasion. Although he was a drug addict he was able to give the boy valuable life lessons which helped him succeed. I know that sounds kind of sappy but it was a very touching story and there wasn't an ounce of magic in it. If more of the stories had been like that then I would have given it higher marks.

This book is on the shortlist for the Giller Prize and it is the only one I have read so far. I know lots of people like this style of writing so I can see it could do well. There is no doubt O'Neill is a very good writer. ( )
  gypsysmom | Oct 23, 2015 |
O'Neill has a fantastic talent for combining the whimsical with the gritty and grimy, creating a unique style and voice. This collection of short stories is no exception: while women dominate the scene, her characters are vibrant, complex and all different, expressing in simple words a multitude of emotions.
A friend of mine remarked: what I like best about her, is that her women characters are unapologetically sexual, none are ashamed of their actions and most enjoy it. It's true: a very liberating and natural act that does not attract attention to itself, part of who we are and how we live.
With an emphasis on fairy tales, this collection is a refreshing departure from the usual modern novels. ( )
1 vote Cecilturtle | Oct 12, 2015 |
Heather O'Neill is a Canadian author who sets her stories in a gritty, half-magical Montreal neighborhood. Daydreams of Angels is her first collection of short stories. O'Neill, who writes like Karen Russell would, had she been raised in Quebec, rather than Florida, excels at the short story, which perfectly suits her off-beat and fairy tale-like writing style. Her stories are alternately bright, but with a dark, foreboding undertone, or bleak, with a touch of magic realism, as though George Saunders and Sarah Addison Allen had decided to collaborate.

In Messages in Bottles, two children are shipwrecked on a deserted island:

The girl wondered if they spent their whole lives on the island, whether she would have to marry a walrus. They were respectable and dependable. They wouldn't cheat on you. But it would be a loveless life. Some of the swans told her that it took seven years to learn to love a walrus. After that, though, everything was okay. More or less.

There are stories based on other tales, like Sting Like a Bee, which follows three characters, a boy, a dog and a girl, all named Ferdinand, like in the story by Munro Leaf. Another, The Isles of Dr. Moreau, has a grandfather telling his grandchildren about his experiences there, and the odd things he saw. Swan Lake for Beginners imagines a Soviet program secretly operating in a village in northern Quebec, where Rudolph Nureyev is being cloned in the hopes of creating a group of great ballet dancers.

In The Saddest Chorus Girl in the World, a woman returns home, broken and unhappy:

The winter wind knew that Violet was coming back. The sky was holding its breath, and when it saw Violet step out of the train station, it finally exhaled and beautiful snowflakes began to fall. Children all over the city were noticing the gigantic snowflakes that were stuck on their mittens. They had been specially designed to impress Violet. The winter wanted Violet back.

She went for a walk in the east end. The gargoyles wanted to crawl right down off the buildings and put their arms around her. She was the only one who had loved them and who had thought they were beautiful. She was the only on who had chosen this neighborhood over Westmount.


Every story in this collection was different. I hope she continues to write short stories, although I'll continue to read what ever she writes. ( )
3 vote RidgewayGirl | Jul 4, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 6 (next | show all)
And there is possibly no better metaphor for this collection's collective voice: A murmuring, jubilant chorus both anxious to speak and ready to listen.
 
O’Neill is a wondrous writer whose clean declarative sentences push the stories forward. She also has an astonishing gift for metaphor, which she mines as if she has struck the motherlode.

The strength of this collection is not just the stories’ delectable absurdity but also their wisdom. O’Neill reflects on the identity of artists, who she says cannot fully live in our world, but must dwell in a place apart to nourish their imaginations. Like on a desert island.
 
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One afternoon in 1946 a child was telling his toy soldiers the tale of a certain tall, menacing-looking Gypsy who was walking down a road in rural France.
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amazon ca :Inventive, outlandish, and tender fairy tales from a bestselling author

The fantastic has always been at the edges of Heather O'Neill's work. In her bestselling novels Lullabies for Little Criminals and The Girl Who Was Saturday Night, she transformed the shabbiest streets of Montreal with her beautiful, freewheeling metaphors. She described the smallest of things--a stray cat or a second-hand coat--with an intensity that made them otherworldly.
In Daydreams of Angels, O'Neill's first collection of short stories, she gives free reign to her imaginative gifts. In "The Ugly Ducklings," generations of Nureyev clones live out their lives in a grand Soviet experiment. In "Dear Piglet," a teenaged cult follower writes a letter to explain the motivation behind her crime. And in another tale, a grandmother reveals where babies come from: the beach, where young mothers-to-be hunt for infants in the surf. Each of these beguiling stories twists the beloved narratives of childhood--fairy tales, storybooks, Bible stories--to uncover the deepest truths of family life.
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"Inventive, outlandish, and tender fairy tales from a bestselling author The fantastic has always been at the edges of Heather O'Neill's work. In her bestselling novels Lullabies for Little Criminals and The Girl Who Was Saturday Night, she transformed the shabbiest streets of Montreal with her beautiful, freewheeling metaphors. She described the smallest of things--a stray cat or a second-hand coat--with an intensity that made them otherworldly. In Daydreams of Angels, O'Neill's first collection of short stories, she gives free reign to her imaginative gifts. In "The Ugly Ducklings," generations of Nureyev clones live out their lives in a grand Soviet experiment. In "Dear Piglet," a teenaged cult follower writes a letter to explain the motivation behind her crime. And in another tale, a grandmother reveals where babies come from: the beach, where young mothers-to-be hunt for infants in the surf. Each of these beguiling stories twists the beloved narratives of childhood--fairy tales, storybooks, Bible stories--to uncover the deepest truths of family life"-- "Inventive, outlandish, and tender fairy tales from a bestselling author"--… (more)

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