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Here We Are in Paradise: Stories

by Tony Earley

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1604152,639 (4.15)10
This collection of stories, set in various locales of North Carolina create entire worlds and indelible moments as only the best short fiction does.

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The most difficult part of writing short stories is creating fully-realized characters that a reading audience can immediately form a connection with. In this manner Earley has shown himself to be a master. This book is a series of short stories that mostly feature glimses of small town life. One of my favorites is Charlotte, a story that explores the romance and excitement of professional wrestling from the town's past. The most moving story is the title story about Vernon and his wife Peggy, who is dying of breast cancer. The exploration of Vernon's panic and fear at the thought of losing his wife and Peggy's stoic acceptance of the inevitable is absolutely heartrending. Four and a half stars. ( )
  dorie.craig | Jun 22, 2017 |
A marvelous book of short stories, all set in North Carolina, by the author of the wonderful "Jim the Boy". A couple are a little disconcerting because of the style, a skip-and-jump piling on of past events until one knows the characters, and then the resolution. Many are quietly sad, dealing with the pain of lost and unsalvageable relationships, and a couple are flat-out eccentrically funny. The cream of this crop is the last three stories, all a kind of prequel to "Jim the Boy", with the last one, "My Father's Heart", bringing out tears in me at the end with its sad and quiet acceptance of mortality and how our stories go on despite it, because of family. ( )
  burnit99 | Jan 10, 2007 |
Thumbs up. Read the story "The Prophet from Jupiter" in Harper's in the early 1990's and was an instant fan. Still one of my all time favorite stories. The rest of these stories are good, too.
  gazeekabox | Oct 30, 2006 |
I did end up loving this book. It was a little shaky there in the first story though...it was my least favorite of the lot. I'm not sure if it was the style of the story itself (sort of a stream-of-consciousness [but with punctuation, thank god] rambling with lots of flashbacks and flashforwards), or if it was just that I had to get back into the short story frame of mind. When you've been on a diet of strictly novels and non-fiction, short stories can really throw you for a loop.

Fortunately, I loved the second story which was ostensibly about Charlotte losing its pro wrestling alliance to Ted Turner and Atlanta, but was really so much more.

I was also thrilled to see that the last three stories were about Jim Glass, his mother and his uncles, who I fell in love with when I read Jim the Boy. I believe these stories were written before the novel, but I'm glad I read the novel first. In it, Earley only tells us about one year in Jim's childhood. These stories span the rest of his life. I liked the innocence of the first book so much that it was nice not to spoil it by reading these stories first.

I'm going to include a spoiler here by quoting the last line of the last story in the book, so if you don't want to read it, stop now. (It's such a lovely quote, I can't help myself.)

"We live in stories, and our stories go on, even when we are dead. If there is one thing I would like to say to my mother, it is that: do not worry, our stories go on."

Just wonderful. ( )
  jennyo | Mar 24, 2006 |
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This collection of stories, set in various locales of North Carolina create entire worlds and indelible moments as only the best short fiction does.

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This collection of stories, set in various locales of North Carolina create entire worlds and indelible moments as only the best short fiction does.

His selection by Granta as one of he best American novelists under forty only confirmed what reviewers and readers of Here We Are in Paradise already know: Tony Earley is one of this country's most talented writers. Set in the big cities, tiny hamlets, mountain hollows, and tourist towns of North Carolina, these acclaimed stories are suffused with a vivid sense of place — and alive with the mysteries of the human heart
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