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The Art of the Tale: An International Anthology of Short Stories

de Daniel Halpern (Editor)

Altres autors: Chinua Achebe (Col·laborador), Ilse Aichinger (Col·laborador), Vasily Aksenov (Col·laborador), Margaret Atwood (Col·laborador), Ingeborg Bachmann (Col·laborador)6 més, James Baldwin (Col·laborador), Russell Banks (Col·laborador), Donald Barthelme (Col·laborador), Heinrich Böll (Col·laborador), Ann Beattie (Col·laborador), Samuel Beckett (Col·laborador)

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A compilation of short stories written since World War II by authors from Europe, Asia, Australia, Africa and North and South America.
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» Mira també 5 mencions

Es mostren totes 2
“The Life of the Imagination,” by Nadine Gordimer (1967): 6.75
- I’d be tempted to downplay the Apartheid angles here — to look past the petty, constant liberal racialism — if it wasn’t so cheaply invoked it as a bridge towards the story’s central emotional revelation. In many ways, we otherwise have a quintessential little piece of mid century bourgeois ennui here — replete with unexamined opulence and ambiguous infidelity and transposed only to South Africa and the female psyche. It’s a tightrope tone and theme to take up — you either succeed or die. Here, by the end, I think we’ve fallen off.

"I Look Out for Ed Wolfe," by Stanley Elkin (1962): 7.25
- well, genres might be elastic, but you do know when you've stepped in one from another, for sure, esp. when it's from a certain type of sci-fi to a certain type of mid century literary posturing, replete with a Bellow-esque mordant humor interspersing an otherwise straight wrenching narrative of personal delusion, degradation, and self-destruction. What is more, there's the very NY-liberal racialism (which might actually verge on racism here), in which "negros" are not only gawked at, but also introduced as sort of Big Point dei-ex-machinae in and of themselves, their very presence a crucible through which the Point of the story is thrown into sharpest relief, or, as the Most Apotheositically Other possible, the greatest possible mirror to reflect the truth of the decisions our protagonist is making - here, for convoluted, psychological, experiential reasons, the Orphan casting all away with no (visible) care for world or health or future. In that downward spiral, there's good stuff--most notably, the line about his confusion at having been given severance pay -- "he imagined a headline: Orphan Receives Check from Local Businessman".

"The Communist," by Richard Ford (1987): 8.25
- A quiet story, this one--of a taciturn 16 yr. old kid, his 31 yr. old mother, and her “communist” boyfriend, going to see and hunt some geese in Montana in 1961--the kind that say more, quite consciously, in their spaces and silences, than in their words. The prose was deep restraint and blunt pronouncement, which worked well here and didn't hide the characters so much as gesture at something ineffable in the scene, in them, and in their reactions to each other. About those silences, they're pregnant, and we can largely only guess, sometimes more confidently and sometimes less, about what they held. For example, that the boy will end up fighting in Vietnam--Glenn's allusions to it and his cryptic note that he has, since, seen grown men scared. And the small touches, given almost as an aside, but important to the whole thing: the death of the father, being from California, and how kind of dumb Glenn is too. Nonetheless, does this really add up to so much more than the sum of its duller points? Hard to tell how much is actually behind the curtain and how much is empty hand-waving.

"The Chosen Husband," by Mavis Gallant (1985): 8.75
- Again, maybe it’s the story or maybe it’s the sheer diversion of coming back to lit fic after so much short sff, but there’s something especially life-affirming in these small literary fictions. Something that reiterates the vitality and beauty of literature itself, rather than the vitality and beauty of imagination and expansion that the best sff fic can do. They’re different creatures as much as they’re the same. The piece: small-means widower in Montreal works to marry off her youngest to a bore, as her wiser, worldlier older daughter looks upon knowingly. That’s it. Yet, it’s filled with such precise analysis of place and the limits of social comprehension — but those enforced by others and ourselves — that so much is there. Grazia Merler observes in her book, Mavis Gallant: Narrative Patterns and Devices, that "Psychological character development is not the heart of Mavis Gallant’s stories, nor is plot. Specific situation development and reconstruction of the state of mind or of heart is, however, the main objective." There it is.

"The Mother," by Natalia Ginzburg (1961): 9.5
- A deep, smooth look at a sad life—told, I’d say, not dispassionately, not without judgment, but with acute awareness of the ways we do and do not love those we’re otherwise meant to. A “What Maisie Knew” but for a disintegrating life, rather than marriage. And, like MAISIE, it’s sensitivity works in the way it leaves us to fill in specific details. A great final line—one sentence, in which, after this close observation of a few months in these young boys lives, we move suddenly through the rest of their lives and see, in flash, how this Maternal Nothing works itself out.

"Order of Insects," by William Gass (1968): 9
- “The picture didn’t need to show me there were two, adult and nymph, for by that time I’d seen the bodies of both kind. Nymph. My god the words we use.” Gass is doing all but trying to hide his Point, and thank god for that, thank god for that in-obtuseness, that strange push to direct the story certainly and push towards that as best he can. And how it can. The story: a housewife finds, and becomes increasingly obsessed with (unconsciously [?] in tune with — see that wonderful drop that she lies in bed “shell-like”) some small dead insects she finds daily during her cleaning runs, and we gradually understand the ways in which her domestic boredom and confinement are driving her to instability. She yells at the kids and chafes at her husband and the only thing eventually real, eventually “ordered”are those dead bugs themselves (see the nice gaspy moment when we realize she's actually been picking them up now). “And then I want to cry, O husband, I am ill, for I have seen what I have seen.”
  Ebenmaessiger | Oct 6, 2019 |
Good thing I got through this relatively quickly (I still have Penguin's "The Art of the Story" to trudge through - a more current companion piece of international short stories).

So, out of eighty-one stories, I was almost always approving, somewhat floored, and rarely disappointed. I already know I plan on using this for many future references. Sometimes a flailing read, though rarely, most of the best compilation short story books always eventually pick up their pace. Obviously, this one is no exception.

But the biggest thing I probably learned here is that I've been missing out on some Mishima, which I immediately remedied by putting all of his books on my "to read" list.

Top Ten:
01. Hair Jewellery - Atwood
02. Spring in Fialta - Nabokov
03. Pariotism - Mishima
04. A Set of Variations on a Borrowed Theme - O'Conner
05. The Country Husband - Cheever
06. Children of Their Birthdays - Capote
07. This Way for the Gas, Ladies and Gentlemen - Borowski
08. First Love, Last Rites - McEwan
09. The Tryst - Oates
10. Little Whale, Varnisher of Reality - Aksenov ( )
1 vota Mifune | Oct 28, 2010 |
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» Afegeix-hi altres autors

Nom de l'autorCàrrecTipus d'autorObra?Estat
Halpern, DanielEditorautor primaritotes les edicionsconfirmat
Achebe, ChinuaCol·laboradorautor secundaritotes les edicionsconfirmat
Aichinger, IlseCol·laboradorautor secundaritotes les edicionsconfirmat
Aksenov, VasilyCol·laboradorautor secundaritotes les edicionsconfirmat
Atwood, MargaretCol·laboradorautor secundaritotes les edicionsconfirmat
Bachmann, IngeborgCol·laboradorautor secundaritotes les edicionsconfirmat
Baldwin, JamesCol·laboradorautor secundaritotes les edicionsconfirmat
Banks, RussellCol·laboradorautor secundaritotes les edicionsconfirmat
Barthelme, DonaldCol·laboradorautor secundaritotes les edicionsconfirmat
Böll, HeinrichCol·laboradorautor secundaritotes les edicionsconfirmat
Beattie, AnnCol·laboradorautor secundaritotes les edicionsconfirmat
Beckett, SamuelCol·laboradorautor secundaritotes les edicionsconfirmat
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A compilation of short stories written since World War II by authors from Europe, Asia, Australia, Africa and North and South America.

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