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The Art of the Story: An International…
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The Art of the Story: An International Anthology of Contemporary Short…

by Daniel Halpern

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264566,812 (4.05)3
An anthology of some 80 stories, including two dozen translations. The latter range from The Elephant Vanishes, a look at Japanese society by Haruki Murakami, to My Father, the Englishman, and I, a satire on colonialism by the Somalian, Nuruddin Farah.

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Showing 5 of 5
"A Gift from Somewhere," by Ama Ata Aidoo (1995): 7.25
- understated, almost too-readily diving into subaltern speak, but interesting macrostylistic points (ie the midpoint shift from the mallam to the mother, which was effective and broadening), even if the broader outlines of the plot contrivances are familiar (religio-medical shuckster/conman improvises in midst of plight and things work out differently than he'd planned). Also, nicely realist look at a set of deeply superstitious practices. That switch, nonetheless, also ruined it a bit for me--as we get the surprise of perspective shift and tonal shift, but lose connections to established arcs

"The Keeper of the Virgins," by Hanan al-Shaykh (1998): 7.5
- Reading predominantly genre stories has ill prepared me for the whiplash of a return to the stillness and impressionistic thinnness of a certain type of literary short story. In fact, it's something I wish some SF tales would take up (as, if I'm being honest, certain types of fantasy stories do actually at least try and replicate the tone here, as well as the subject matter too actually [think of all those Beneath Ceaseless Skies stories populated by penitents and monks and nuns and set in dusty convents and such]). Nonetheless, I was still pleasantly caught off guard by this pointed meditation of a story, in which a dwarf, intrigued by the life therein, visits a convent everyday, until finally being taken on inside, only to be, in turn, half devoted to the place and its inhabitants and half concerned about his increasing withdrawal from the world outside, especially after his own mother and brother recreate his own vigil outside the convent gates in order to get him to return. In fact, it was this last development, noted in the story's final paragraph, that moved this into the “solid” category for me. It wasn't so much as necessarily poignant, or even really earned [the minimum length required for any story to actually “earn” anything in the first place would be an interesting question to ponder], as a justification of the faith I'd put in the author to bring us, his audience, through this story cleanly, to make us reflect on a cycle, on the ambiguities of devotion and self-abnegation, and not simply sift through the story threads like an aimless, if pleasant, dream.

"Amor Divino," by Julia Alvarez (1997): 7
- Treacly muck, with some solid characterization and good writing, but that otherwise little examines or acknowledges the class implications of its characters and is, more distractingly, some Fiery Latina essentialism run amok.
  Ebenmaessiger | Oct 6, 2019 |
Read
"The House Behind" by Lydia Davis (5 stars).

"The Twenty-seventh Man" by Nathan Englander (5 stars)

"The Night In Question" by Tobias Wolff (5 stars)

"While The Women Sleep" by Javier Marias (5 stars)

“A Temporary Matter” by Jhumpa Lahiri (5 stars)

"First Confession" by by Frank O’Connor (5 stars)
  FAR2MANYBOOKS | Apr 5, 2014 |
Read
"The House Behind" by Lydia Davis (5 stars).

"The Twenty-seventh Man" by Nathan Englander (5 stars)

"The Night In Question" by Tobias Wolff (5 stars)

"While The Women Sleep" by Javier Marias (5 stars)

“A Temporary Matter” by Jhumpa Lahiri (5 stars)

"First Confession" by by Frank O’Connor (5 stars)
  FAR2MANYBOOKS | Apr 5, 2014 |
A nice compilation of short stories from around the world. Good diversity of authors, though the stories are not always the most representative works. ( )
  checkadawson | Nov 2, 2009 |
Fantastic collection of contemporary short stories from around the world. I love the variety of styles and traditions represented in this one volume. ( )
  gwendolyndawson | Jul 13, 2008 |
Showing 5 of 5
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