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Fortune Smiles by Adam Johnson
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Fortune Smiles (2015)

by Adam Johnson

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3782628,549 (4.05)44
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Showing 1-5 of 26 (next | show all)
Everyone of the stories is this collection is quirky, unique and disturbing. There are little bits of hope sprinkled throughout, but mostly things are grim. (Probably best to read this book when you have some emotional reserves, and aren't going to fall into despair at the state of humanity.)

So, I was going to read this slowly, and spread the stories out over the month. But every time my eyes fell on the first sentence, I had to keep reading until the end. It's genius. ( )
  banjo123 | Sep 5, 2017 |
This week I gave up on a book. I wish it was this one; instead it was Emperor of All Maladies. That is a really good book, it’s just too dense. So I turned my eye to this, because I’m going to be discussing it with other folks at book club in a week.

Man, it was bad. Not ‘Cinderella’s Diary’ or whatever that awfulness was a couple of years ago, but still bad. Yet somehow it has a 4-star rating on Good Reads. How is this possible? It’s SO BAD.

Now, I really don’t ever read short stories, so I don’t know – is every story supposed to sort of end with no resolution? Do they always feel kind of pointless? I know that novels sometimes end without resolution, but usually there’s at least enough time throughout the novel to build characters to the point that I care.

I don’t *think* anything connects these stories, although maybe five of the six could be characterized as about people who are stuck in the past. The rest of the review includes spoilers (I guess), so read on if you like. If not, just take my word and skip this one.

Nirvana – Man’s wife is temporarily but possibly permanently paralyzed, is obsessed with Kurt Cobain. Husband has built some sort of virtual reality allowing everyone to talk to a recently assassinated president. The technology writing is laughably inaccurate, the characters aren’t fleshed out at all. It was a quick read because it felt like it was written by a teenager. 1 star.

Hurricanes Anonymous – Man had already lost everything. Then hurricane Katrina happens. Then his ex leaves his son with him. He leaves to get a car from his dying dad. Maybe forever? Unclear. This one had more potential so I was ultimately disappointed. 2 stars.

Interesting Facts – Woman has breast cancer and almost dies. PLOT TWIST. She’s already dead. 2 stars.

George Orwell was a Friend of Mine – This one had the most potential to me, and felt the most developed. Former prison warder from East Germany doesn’t really think he did anything wrong. Kind of ends up cracking up. Weirdest part was the sort of glossed over fact that he apparently raped his passed out wife every night of their marriage. 3 stars.

Dark Meadow – Oh this guy is a pedophile (but he only LOOKS at the pictures, guys) who was abused as a child. More tech writing that is probably crap. Creepy as FUCK. 1 star.

Fortune Smiles – Two men who defected from North Korea. 1 star. ( )
  ASKelmore | Jul 9, 2017 |
Not very satisfying group of stories. ( )
  Iambookish | Dec 14, 2016 |
(AUDIO) - A collection of 6 short stories from the author of The Orphan Master's Son. It won the National Book award for fiction in 2015

One of the stories, called Nirvana, is about a man who makes a hologram entity of the recently assassination of the President and releases it on the internet to help comfort the nation. He finds he has more of a connection to the hologram than he does to his paralyzed wife, who lives for Kurt Cobain and the music of Nirvana. Another interesting story is Interesting Facts (pun intended). Its about a woman author who is married to a Pulitzer prize winning author who wrote an acclaimed book about North Korea. She dreams about having cancer, but does she? She seems to be fading, and is frustrated with her husband using a characcter from one of her stories in his.

A very interesting collection. I think Johnson is now on my list of goto authors.

8/10

S: 6/5/16 - F: 6/15/16 (11 Days) ( )
  mahsdad | Jul 8, 2016 |
I love to read, I read for pleasure, I read to step out of my comfort zone and I read because some people just put words together so darn well. These short stories fit the bill. One story in particular was a bit intense, I’m surprised I got through it. But like I said, some people just put words together so darn well. ( )
  Jolynne | Jun 23, 2016 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0812997476, Hardcover)

Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for his acclaimed novel about North Korea, The Orphan Master’s Son, Adam Johnson is one of America’s most provocative and powerful authors. Critics have compared him to Kurt Vonnegut, David Mitchell, and George Saunders, but Johnson’s new book will only further his reputation as one of our most original writers. Subtly surreal, darkly comic, both hilarious and heartbreaking, Fortune Smiles is a major collection of stories that gives voice to the perspectives we don’t often hear, while offering something rare in fiction: a new way of looking at the world.
 
In six masterly stories, Johnson delves deep into love and loss, natural disasters, the influence of technology, and how the political shapes the personal. “George Orwell Was a Friend of Mine” follows a former warden of a Stasi prison in East Germany who vehemently denies his past, even as pieces of it are delivered in packages to his door. “Nirvana,” which won the prestigious Sunday Times short story prize, portrays a programmer whose wife has a rare disease finding solace in a digital simulacrum of the president of the United States. In “Hurricanes Anonymous”—first included in the Best American Short Stories anthology—a young man searches for the mother of his son in a Louisiana devastated by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. And in the unforgettable title story, Johnson returns to his signature subject, North Korea, depicting two defectors from Pyongyang who are trying to adapt to their new lives in Seoul, while one cannot forget the woman he left behind.
 
Unnerving, riveting, and written with a timeless quality, these stories confirm Johnson as one of America’s greatest writers and an indispensable guide to our new century.

Advance praise for Fortune Smiles
 
“How do you follow a Pulitzer Prize–winning novel? For Johnson, the answer is a story collection, and the tales are hefty and memorable. . . . In the title story, two North Korean criminals adjust to post-defection life in South Korea. . . . Often funny, even when they’re wrenchingly sad, the stories provide one of the truest satisfactions of reading: the opportunity to sink into worlds we otherwise would know little or nothing about.”Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“A half-dozen sometimes Carver-esque yarns that find more-or-less ordinary people facing extraordinary challenges and somehow holding up. Tragedy is always close to the surface in Johnson’s work—with tragicomic layerings. . . . Bittersweet, elegant, full of hard-won wisdom: this is no ordinary book, either.”Kirkus Reviews (starred review) 

Praise for Adam Johnson’s Pulitzer Prize–winning novel, The Orphan Master’s Son

“Harrowing and deeply affecting . . . a daring and remarkable novel, a novel that not only opens a frightening window on the mysterious kingdom of North Korea, but one that also excavates the very meaning of love and sacrifice.”—Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times

“Remarkable . . . the single best work of fiction published [this year].”—The Wall Street Journal

“A great novel can take implausible fact and turn it into entirely believable fiction. That’s the genius of The Orphan Master’s Son.”—The Washington Post

“An epic feat of storytelling.”—Zadie Smith

“A triumph of imagination . . . [Grade:] A.”Entertainment Weekly

(retrieved from Amazon Fri, 03 Jul 2015 09:13:58 -0400)

"In six masterly stories, Johnson delves deep into love and loss, natural disasters, the influence of technology, and how the political shapes the personal. "George Orwell Was a Friend of Mine" follows a former warden of a Stasi prison in East Germany who vehemently denies his past, even as pieces of it are delivered in packages to his door. "Nirvana," portrays a programmer whose wife has a rare disease finding solace in a digital simulacrum of the president of the United States. In "Hurricanes Anonymous" a young man searches for the mother of his son in a Louisiana devastated by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. And in the unforgettable title story, Johnson returns to his signature subject, North Korea, depicting two defectors from Pyongyang who are trying to adapt to their new lives in Seoul, while one cannot forget the woman he left behind"--… (more)

» see all 3 descriptions

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