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Intimations: Stories by Alexandra Kleeman
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Intimations: Stories (edition 2016)

by Alexandra Kleeman (Author)

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651298,856 (3.94)None
"From the celebrated author of You Too Can Have a Body Like Mine,a thought-provoking, often unsettling story collection that consists, broadly, of narrative diagrams of the three main stages in a human life: birth, life, and death. Alexandra Kleeman's debut novel You Too Can Have a Body Like Mine earned her comparisons to Thomas Pynchon, Don DeLillo, Ben Marcus, and Tom Perrotta. It was praised by the New York Times as "a powerful allegory of our civilization's many maladies, artfully and elegantly articulated, by one of the young wise women of our generation." In her second book, a collection of twelve stories irresistibly seductive in their strangeness, she explores human life from beginning to end: the distress of birth into a world already formed; the brief and confusing period of "living" where we understand what is expected of us and struggle to do it; and the death-y period toward the end where we sense it is ending and will end only partially understood, at best. The title is taken from one of the stories ("Intimation"), but is also a play on Wordsworth's "Intimations of Immortality"--only in this case it's not clear exactly what is being intimated, but it's nothing so gleaming and good as Immortality. The middle, "Living" section of the book, is fleshed out with a set of stories that borrow more from traditional realist fiction to illustrate the inner lives of the characters. At once familiar and mysterious, these stories have an eerie resonance as its characters find themselves in new and surprising situations. An unnamed woman enters a room with no exit and a ready-made life; the disappearance of people, objects, and memory creates an apocalypse; the art of dance is used to try to tame a feral child; the key to surviving a house-party lies in knowing the difference between fake and real blood. Elegant, surprising, wondrous, and haunting, Intimations is an utterly transporting collection from one of our most ingenious and brilliant young writers"--"A penetrating collection by Alexandrea Kleeman, the celebrated author of YOU TOO CAN HAVE A BODY LIKE MINE, these short stories perplex and delight, populated with characters seeking to understand the somehow lacking world around them"--… (more)
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Title:Intimations: Stories
Authors:Alexandra Kleeman (Author)
Info:Harper (2016), Edition: Reprint, 245 pages
Collections:Your library
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Tags:to-read, story-collections-anthologies

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Intimations: Stories by Alexandra Kleeman

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Intimations: Stories by Alexandra Kleeman


Kleeman’s follow-up to You Too Can Have a Body Like Mine is an odd and wondrous creation—an experimental novella (or two) wrapped in a thematically-linked story collection (or two), Intimations is a literary pilgrimage through philosophy and language, realism and surrealism, loneliness and the limits of self-knowledge. At its core this is a book about life, the energy that creates and sustains it, disassembles, reconfigures, and even destroys it; from the sparest of molecules through the human and on to the intellectual limits of physics. But, in a way, it’s also a book about courage; the defiance it takes to live and thrive in a world none of us fully understand. Beyond physical or emotional strength, this is a book about artistic courage, the fact that Alexandra Kleeman the writer so clearly refuses to be anyone but herself.

As with two other literary collections I reviewed this year, Matt Bell’s A Tree or a Person or a Wall and The Unfinished World by Amber Sparks, the essential question with Intimations seems to me one of experimental necessity. Of course, there’s much to admire here—as there is in the books by Sparks and Bell—from formal inventiveness and eloquence to a gift for the poetry of observation, the way simple physical details can bloom into realizations far beyond the material. But is Kleeman’s display of formal genius just a clever out, a substitute for conventions of plot and story, dialogue and denouement, to name a few? Your answer to this question will determine your feelings on Intimations.

There’s isolation in this book, a great deal of it. Multiple stories are about the awkward self, the sort of person who rarely fits in, who even when they find connections seems fated to watch them disintegrate, a type Kleeman seems to know very well. There’s real sadness, here, too—a shocking amount of feeling given the level of intellectualization that goes into writing structurally-complex literary fiction—particularly in the middle section with its cycle of stories about a woman (or women) named Karen and in the pieces with animal motifs (“Lobster Dinner”, “I May Not Be the One You Want,”, “Jellyfish,” and “Rabbit Starvation”). This is fiction with a meditative quality, fiction that’s linked by its ideas, and in that it shares something with essay and memoir.

For me, Kleeman’s formal choices are not only justified but integral to her work, perhaps its most important element. Yes, language is our fundamental (albeit imperfect) mode of communication, but form can add to language, elevate it into something greater still. Perhaps the link is akin to that between algebra and geometry, that the geometry of form can expand the way we see the algebra of prose. This literary geometry is the way of Intimations, and if you can accept that, it may just change the way you see the world.

http://www.thenervousbreakdown.com/kbaumeister/2016/12/the-nervous-breakdowns-re... ( )
  kurtbaumeister | Oct 25, 2017 |
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"From the celebrated author of You Too Can Have a Body Like Mine,a thought-provoking, often unsettling story collection that consists, broadly, of narrative diagrams of the three main stages in a human life: birth, life, and death. Alexandra Kleeman's debut novel You Too Can Have a Body Like Mine earned her comparisons to Thomas Pynchon, Don DeLillo, Ben Marcus, and Tom Perrotta. It was praised by the New York Times as "a powerful allegory of our civilization's many maladies, artfully and elegantly articulated, by one of the young wise women of our generation." In her second book, a collection of twelve stories irresistibly seductive in their strangeness, she explores human life from beginning to end: the distress of birth into a world already formed; the brief and confusing period of "living" where we understand what is expected of us and struggle to do it; and the death-y period toward the end where we sense it is ending and will end only partially understood, at best. The title is taken from one of the stories ("Intimation"), but is also a play on Wordsworth's "Intimations of Immortality"--only in this case it's not clear exactly what is being intimated, but it's nothing so gleaming and good as Immortality. The middle, "Living" section of the book, is fleshed out with a set of stories that borrow more from traditional realist fiction to illustrate the inner lives of the characters. At once familiar and mysterious, these stories have an eerie resonance as its characters find themselves in new and surprising situations. An unnamed woman enters a room with no exit and a ready-made life; the disappearance of people, objects, and memory creates an apocalypse; the art of dance is used to try to tame a feral child; the key to surviving a house-party lies in knowing the difference between fake and real blood. Elegant, surprising, wondrous, and haunting, Intimations is an utterly transporting collection from one of our most ingenious and brilliant young writers"--"A penetrating collection by Alexandrea Kleeman, the celebrated author of YOU TOO CAN HAVE A BODY LIKE MINE, these short stories perplex and delight, populated with characters seeking to understand the somehow lacking world around them"--

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