The Collected Stories of Amy Hempel review ã 103

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The Collected Stories of Amy Hempel review ã 103 ↠ The Collected Stories of Amy Hempel gathers together the complete work of a writer whose voice is as singular and astonishing as any in American fiction Hempel fiercely admired by writers and reviewers has a sterling reputation that is based on four very short collections of storieThe Collected Stories of Amy Hempel gathers together the complete work of a writer whose voice is as singular and astonishing as any in American fiction Hempel fiercely admired by writers and reviewers has a sterling reputation that is based on four very short collections of stories roughly fifteen thousand stunning sentences written over a period of nearly three decades These are stories about people who make choices that seem inevitable whose longings and misgivings evoke eternal human experience With comp. Am I the only reader who doesn't take pleasure in reading Amy Hempel She is always praised for writing the perfect sentence for the way she distills a story to its poetic essence for writing precise little gems Some stories are less than two pages long How can I describe my aversion Is it that I feel like I'm being toyed with That Hempel's spareness is a literary exercise There's a chill in her writing that comes from that spareness I think There was one story that was superb In the Cemetery Where Al Jolson is Buried in which she makes her one and only visit to her best friend who is dying alone in a hospital It's unflinching and autobiographical But again I felt her at a great remove She's the master of show it don't tell it I experienced the narrator's jubilation at running away from death but the specter of guilt was only inferred It's a powerful trick But I end up feeling I've had no communion with this writer only that I've been acted upon

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Ared to the work of Raymond Carver Hempel refined and developed her uniue grace and style and her unerring instinct for the moment that defines a character Also included here in their entirety are the collections Tumble Home and The Dog of the Marriage As Rick Moody says of the title novella in Tumble Home the leap in mastery in seriousness and sheer literary purpose was inspiring to behold And yet he continues The Dog of the Marriage the fourth collection is even better than the other threea triumph in fact. I know it's a cliche but some of these stories just took my breath away In the Cemetery where Al Jolson is buried is just extraordinary but there are at least a half a dozen other stories which are just as good This book contains all four collections of short stories written by Hempel over the last 20 years and has been praised to the skies Deservedly so IMO Some of the stories are less than a page long but they all pack a punchA couple of months later and I'm downgrading this review to 4 stars WhyToo many dogsMore seriously several of these stories were unnecessarily opaue almost to a Faulknerian degree If one goes to the trouble of reading through a story three times then one shouldn't still be in the dark about who did what to whom and when I realize that this kind of opacity may sometimes be deliberate in the service of the story but it's bothersome enough to make me revise my rating downwards There are still some excellent stories in this book but there are some duds as well So no 5 stars in the interests of reserving some kind of meaning for that ratingThere were a lot of dogs though only a frivolous person would use that a basis for rating Right

Amy Hempel ✓ 3 review

The Collected Stories of Amy HempelAssion wit and the acutest eye Hempel observes the marriages minor disasters and moments of revelation in an uneasy America When Reasons to Live Hempel's first collection was published in 1985 readers encountered a pitch perfect voice in fiction and an unsettling assessment of the culture That collection includes San Francisco which Alan Cheuse in The Chicago Tribune called arguably the finest short story composed by any living writer In At the Gates of the Animal Kingdom her second collection freuently comp. The reason for reading this book was because I could not otherwise get away from this lady until doing so One such instance involved an innocent perusal of Raymond Carver's wikipedia entry and there was Hempel and Gordon Lish sitting one booth over and trying to look conspicuously casual Another time I was cruising Palahniukcom feeling all manly and disenfranchised of course and there she was again rocking back and forth on her heels expectantly after blurting out an awkward Hi This is obviously all in jest as I'm not yet unbalanced enough to truly believe that writers stalk potential readers wellexcept for maybe a couple of those Paranormal Romance folks The motivation to read this book gave rise to uestions in my mind about how readers are led to explore a previously unfamiliar writer based solely on a lumped association with writers that the reader already knows Perhaps I just need an additional hobbySeriously this book is a work of great beauty This collection unites Hempel's previous collections into one volume which spans the years of 1985 2005 She is considered to be one of those writers that slaves over every word and sentence and this results in paragraphs that explode with meaning These are basically stories about people trying to reconcile the circumstances of their lives with a demeanor of uiet intensity Seemingly mundane tasks that are undertaken by characters within these stories such as knitting or gardening reflect and amplify the overall theme of each story Some of these themes include death the decay of marriages and relationships and the bond between humans and pets Despite this description Hempel is not just a one trick gloom and doom pony There are light hearted moments within this book that are eually touching as well An example of this would be the first line of 'Tonight Is a Favor to Holly' and possibly one of my favorite sentences in this bookA blind date is coming to pick me up and unless my hair grows an inch by seven o'clock I am not going to answer the doorHow great is that Probably all of us know at least one person who has said a variation on these words at some point in lifeI'm really conflicted about this rating as this is easily a five star book by anyone's standards My personal rating metric has always been that a five star book for me is one that has fundamentally changed the way that I view the world or myself upon completion This book did not uite accomplish this although I found it very emotionally moving This is actually saying something as I'm not usually an emotionally moving literature kind of guyThe only possible complaint that I could have here is that most of these stories are written in a first person perspective from the point of view of a woman that seems to be roughly the same age as Hempel would have been when these stories were written This caused some conflict on my part as I began to conflate the author with the subject matter and would have to remind myself that these are stories not necessarily the private journals of an incredibly gifted writer The whole first person confessional thing always makes me a little uncomfortable as I think back to the young fellow whose early false starts at fiction always involved an angst y male protagonist in his early twenties This is probably my problem as a reader rather than Hempel's problem David I've put a lot of thought into the one thing that I could say to renew your interest in this book It should be somewhat lurid as you are a maleI knew that marketing class would come in handy someday yet at the same time not a total spoiler So here goes You should continue reading this book because when you reach the final story 'Offertory' you will surely say the same thing that I did Twelve acts of sexual congress in the same night Good Lord Has that guy never heard of a refractory period or what