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Amy Hempel writes intriguing, beautifully constructed sentences Piecemeal they are pretty darn awesome Here s the rub I m not sure if how one incredible sentence leads into another is coherent enough for me I found a major disconnect It s like being walked into a conversational corner, like recently when my sister in law compared the intrigues of Tupperware parties with Australian parliament There may be true enough correlations, but I just couldn t get there Either place.On the other han Amy Hempel writes intriguing, beautifully constructed sentences Piecemeal they are pretty darn awesome Here s the rub I m not sure if how one incredible sentence leads into another is coherent enough for me I found a major disconnect It s like being walked into a conversational corner, like recently when my sister in law compared the intrigues of Tupperware parties with Australian parliament There may be true enough correlations, but I just couldn t get there Either place.On the other hand, the author is provocative, secretive, suggestive, there is an open invitation to interpret the narrative, to end the started sentence, to leap into supposition there is charm in that, but one after the other this hefty a collection , that s a lot of coloured plastic and politics More than once I wanted to put this aside but I ve read nothing but glowing reviews, so it really does come down to plain preference, preferring blood sports to shadow boxing i kind of just want to copy one of her stories and so that s what i m going to do her stories are pretty short and this may be the shortest of them all it s called The Man in Bogata The police and emergency service people fail to make a dent The voice of the pleading spouse does not have the hoped for effect The woman remains on the ledge though not, she threatens, for long.I imagine that I am the one who must talk the woman down I see it, and it happens like this.I tell the woman about i kind of just want to copy one of her stories and so that s what i m going to do her stories are pretty short and this may be the shortest of them all it s called The Man in Bogata The police and emergency service people fail to make a dent The voice of the pleading spouse does not have the hoped for effect The woman remains on the ledge though not, she threatens, for long.I imagine that I am the one who must talk the woman down I see it, and it happens like this.I tell the woman about a man in Bogota He was a wealthy man, an industrialist who was kidnapped and held for ransom It was not a TV drama his wife could not call the bank and, in twenty four hours, have one million dollars It took months The man had a heart condition, and the kipnappers had to keep the man alive.Listen to this, I tell the woman on the ledge His captors made him quit smoking They changed his diet and made him exercise every day They held him that way for three months.When the ransom was paid and the man was released, his doctor looked him over He found the man to be in excellent health I tell the woman what the doctor said then the kidnap was the best thing to happen to that man then three little stars follow along with threesentences which i omit for copyright reasons Her writing is the best I ve come across in a while in my head there s a balcony I fall off of when I speak Not only is she telling a story but she s also feeling it with you, for example, from The Most Girl Part of You Since his mother died I have seen him steam a cucumber thinking it was zucchini That s the kind of thing that turns my heart right over Maybe she s a sentimentalist, maybe she s beautiful, but when i read her i find myself wondering, how would one know the difference She s also gotten my thinking a lot about irony and I wonder, really, doubt, whether it exists at all Maybe the real trick to irony is to not be ironic at all, just to believe something crazy or to believe it in a way that everyone thinks, oh, that must be ironic Let the reader do your ironizing for you 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 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 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 Palahniuk.com 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 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 Palahniuk.com 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 questions 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 hobby.Seriously, 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 quiet 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 equally 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 book A 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 door How great is that Probably all of us know at least one person who has said a variation on these words at some point in life.I 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 quite 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 guy.The 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 male I 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 ( Pdf ) ☳ The Collected Stories ⚖ 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 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 compassion, 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 , 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, frequently compared to the work of Raymond Carver, Hempel refined and developed her unique 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 The Collected Stories of Amy Hempel is the perfect opportunity for readers of contemporary American fiction to catch up to one of its masters Moody s passionate and illuminating introduction celebrates both the appeal and the importance of Hempel s work 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 punch.A couple of months later, and I m downgrading this review 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 punch.A couple of months later, and I m downgrading this review to 4 stars Why Too many dogs.More seriously, several of these stories were unnecessarily opaque, 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 rating There were a lot of dogs, though only a frivolous person would use that a basis for rating Right I workshopped a story about a dog in one of my fiction writing classes at school last semester, and several people informed me that I needed to read Amy Hempel They told me that she wrote these great stories that always had dogs in them They always have dogs in them I asked That s like her trademark And while I was busy sort of mocking this idea, one of my friends pointed out that I had written a story about a dog, and I found myself out of excuses.And wow, am I ever glad that I read the wor I workshopped a story about a dog in one of my fiction writing classes at school last semester, and several people informed me that I needed to read Amy Hempel They told me that she wrote these great stories that always had dogs in them They always have dogs in them I asked That s like her trademark And while I was busy sort of mocking this idea, one of my friends pointed out that I had written a story about a dog, and I found myself out of excuses.And wow, am I ever glad that I read the works of Amy Hempel I m never quite sure how to review short story collections, let alone a book that contains three and a half decades of a writer s work, but here s what I can say about this book read it The prose is stunning, each sentence contains multitudes I want to read this entire book aloud to somebody who has never heard of her before I want to smack my earlier self in the face for poking fun at her The longer stories especially namely, Tumble Home and Offertory are masterpieces, something beyond flawless I think she did what she did better than Raymond Carver.I know one thing I need to scrap that dog story I wrote and rethink everything Every story is a treasure a puzzle box, or a quilt of memories every sentence like an imperceptible razor. My heart I thought it stopped So I got in my car and headed for God So entered Amy Hempel into the book world, a master of the line to the point of hyper intense concision Hempel was one of the great short story writers of the 1980 s whose career went beyond the popularity of form When short stories weren t selling so well the in the 1990 s, she tried to transform into a longer form writer, coming out with only the 80 page story Tumble Home, a good illustration of why that s not her streng My heart I thought it stopped So I got in my car and headed for God So entered Amy Hempel into the book world, a master of the line to the point of hyper intense concision Hempel was one of the great short story writers of the 1980 s whose career went beyond the popularity of form When short stories weren t selling so well the in the 1990 s, she tried to transform into a longer form writer, coming out with only the 80 page story Tumble Home, a good illustration of why that s not her strength It s a good story in the end, but the getting their requires the reader to move through numerous hyper intense short outbursts all going different directions But in the short form she is a special voice, clever, fun, passive in complex and fascinating ways, and full of memorable lines, including wonderful opening lines all hinted at in some of her titles She can be sensual, but mostly she is scoffing and blessing at the same time all life s normal difficulties Another gem that was languishing on the shelf way too longMrs Deane scans the written portion of my test She says I skipped a question, the one that says, Would you prefer to a Think about your plans for tomorrow, b Think about what you would do if you had a million dollars, c Think about how it would feel to be held up at gunpoint I say, I want the job for the person who picks b34 The Collected Stories of Amy HempelForward Rick Moodypublished 2006format 412 page ARC Paperbackacquired 2007 from a library book saleread May 29 Jun 14rating 4 This is a collection of four books of stories Reasons to Live 1985 At the Gates of the Animal Kingdom Stories 1990 Tumble Home A Novella and Short Stories 1997 The Dog of the Marriage Stories 2005 It d been a while since I reread the entirety of Hempel s Collected There are certain stories I revisit with regularity In the Cemetery, Today Will Be a Quiet Day, The Harvest, The Most Girl Part of You, The Dog of the Marriage but I felt an urge to go through them all again, and I m so glad I did Not that it delivered me unto anything I didn t already know Amy Hempel is a genius, and on the Mount Rush of short story writers, DUH but it was a pleasure to reread stories that ha It d been a while since I reread the entirety of Hempel s Collected There are certain stories I revisit with regularity In the Cemetery, Today Will Be a Quiet Day, The Harvest, The Most Girl Part of You, The Dog of the Marriage but I felt an urge to go through them all again, and I m so glad I did Not that it delivered me unto anything I didn t already know Amy Hempel is a genius, and on the Mount Rush of short story writers, DUH but it was a pleasure to reread stories that hadn t grabbed me the first, second, third time I read them but, for whatever reason, absolutely did this time around Jesus Is Waiting is one What a story In the same way that Amy has said she could not have written Today Will Be A Quiet Day had Mary Robison not written Widower, Jesus Is Waiting feels like a take on Robison s Why Did I Ever In a tornado outside Balti, in a broken neighborhood off I 95, I asked the attendant in a Mobil station, Where s anywhere else The man didn t even point Similarly, I don t remember The Uninvited as having had much of an effect on me in previous readings, but this time it stopped me in my tracks How had I failed to notice how masterful a story it is But the big gift beyond an excuse to read for probably the tenth time the exquisite and flawless Tumble Home was becoming reacquainted with Offertory, a story that I ve always admired but which always felt rather inscrutable to me I can t claim to understand all of it this time around either, but my god, it s now in the ranks of my favorite Hempel stories The way she writes about sex in the story I m sorry, but it makes even Gaitskill pale in comparison Offertory also includes what is probably my favorite line in all of Hempel It is possible to imagine a person so entirely that the image resists attempts to dislodge it Ain t that the fucking truth.All of this to say that if you haven t yet read Amy Hempel, or if you ve only read the few stories that are frequently anthologized, just get this book, give yourself over to it It s a master class in writing and in humanity