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Pacific & Other Storiesby Mark Helprin
Synopses & Reviews
Mark Helprin's fiction is at once so effortlessly imaginative and deeply imagined as to regularly elicit from critics comparisons to Joyce, Kafka, Poe, Mann, and others. John Gardner said of Helprin, He moves from character to character and from culture to culture as if he'd been born and raised everywhere, and Reynolds Price wrote in The New York Times Book Review, Such ambitious reach is almost unheard of in our short fiction. Helprin is indisputably one of the great writers of our time.
And now, almost ten years since his last book, Helprin returns with The Pacific and Other Stories, a collection of sixteen stories that display the remarkable scope, incomparable wit, and deft prose that have come to be his signature. A British paratrooper jumps into occupied territory in order to reconnoiter enemy positions and direct artillery fire, but a roof breaks his fall; shattered physically and fully alone, he must decide the extent of his devotion to his mission. The 1958 New York Yankess gain an unexpected teammate in a puny, teenage Hasidic Jew whom God has called to rescue the House of Ruth. An opera impresario who has made his career on and ruined the life of a laundress-turned-diva now considers whether he ought to pluck from obscurity a soprano singing on a side street in Venice. A novelist in the 1940s, completely forgotten within the vast bureaucracy at U.S. Steel, constructs for himself a lifesaving sinecure. A September 11 widow receives an astonishing gift from the contractor working on her new apartment. In 1972, a female reservist in the Israeli Army who has despaired of love finds it at the very last minute and in its finest expression, while floating in the sea off Haifa.
Helprin's stories exhibit the constantly changing variety of the ocean itself, the peaks and troughs of life depicted as they blend indistinguishably into one another. Lighthearted, glittering fables are met with starker tales that sound the depths of sacrifice and duty. And although many stories are of the present, the pre-World War II past and its promise of a simpler, purer way of life return with tidal regularity to haunt a modern-day world that has slighted tranquillity and reflection.
The Pacific and Other Stories is a resplendent, engulfing, powerful collection of lasting substance and emotional import.
"As ambitious and imaginative as any of Helprin's past works (Memoir from Antproof Case; Winter's Tale; etc.), the 16 stories collected in the author's first book in nearly a decade are gloriously rich and varied. In "Perfection," Helprin's fabulist skills glitter as a Hasidic boy from 1958 Brooklyn makes a pilgrimage to "the house of Ruth" in the Bronx, believing that he must save Mickey Mantle and the "New York Yenkiss." Other tales explore loss, regret, retribution and time's passage, their exotic locations — Italy, France, Israel, the orange grove?era Pacific coast?imbuing them with exuberant life. In "Il Colore Ritrovato," a bookkeeper-turned-impresario, who years ago discovered one of the world's greatest (and unhappiest) opera singers, happens upon another untrained but perfect soprano and wrestles with his conscience about introducing her to the professional world. In "Monday," an honorable contractor willing to sacrifice other contracts and his own reputation to renovate the home of a woman whose husband was killed on September 11 learns "the power of those who had done right." "Passchendaele," a story of unrequited passion between a Canadian rancher and his neighbor's mute wife, is tender and moving, as are "Last Tea with the Armorers" and "Prelude," each demonstrating immense faith in the power of love. These are sturdy, rewarding stories from a master of the form." Publishers Weekly Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. —This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
"Perfection exists in our world, Helprin suggests in this splendid collection, but it takes a quick eye to spot the momentary gleams. And for those who might not be quick enough, his writing preserves them, in a prose that is as glassy and smooth as amber." Los Angeles Times
"The Pacific and Other Stories is rich in big, life-shaping notions (love, honor, duty, regret) filtered through the language of longing and nostalgia in such a way that the world takes on a kind of fairy-tale luster..." Washington Post
"Like the contractor in Monday, Helprin is a thorough and meticulous craftsman. Like the widow's renovated co-op, the stories in The Pacific are constructed with skill and confidence, which gives them beauty." San Francisco Chronicle
"Happily, Mark Helprin proves he has the skills to return to this classical mode and, with stories that take us around the world and back, make it feel urgent again." Seattle Times
"This is a highly literate collection that showcases Helprin's wit, erudition and authentic voice." Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
"Even in tragedy there is humor, and Helprin has exhibited the capacity for whimsy in other books. But these are wonderful stories that need to be read. Try not to read them all at once; wait for a quiet time when you can focus completely on them." Dallas-Ft. Worth Star Telegram
"At times heart-wrenching and at times humorous, Helprin's stories are about living lives of integrity and the rewards of doing so....Helprin is a master of the genre." Miami Herald
"Within its pages, Helprin has perfected an engaging hybrid of past and present literary styles that is truly all his own." San Antonio Express-News
"Helprin reaffirms his place as our most elegant moralist... [His] range is staggering." Entertainment Weekly, Editor?s Choice
"Helprin needs space to work his magic, room to build up steam, but even in these short bursts, he often accomplishes what others take hundreds of pages to achieve." Kirkus Reviews
A dazzling collection of short stories by Mark Helprin, bestselling author of Winter's Tale, which is now a major motion picture starring Colin Farrell, Jessica Brown Findlay, Russell Crowe, William Hurt, and Jennifer Connelly
The Pacific and Other Stories is a collection of sixteen stories that display the remarkable scope, incomparable wit, and deft prose that have come to be Mark Helprin's signature. A British paratrooper jumps into occupied territory; the 1958 New York Yankees gain an unexpected teammate in a puny, teenaged Hasidic Jew; a September 11th widow receives an astonishing gift from the contractor working on her new apartment—these and other stories exhibit the constantly changing variety of the ocean itself, the peaks and troughs of life. Lighthearted, glittering fables are met with starker tales that sound the depths of sacrifice and duty. The Pacific and Other Stories is a resplendent, powerful collection of lasting substance and emotional import.
This collection of 16 stories displays the remarkable scope, incomparable wit, and deft prose that have come to be Helprin's signature. Lighthearted, glittering fables are met with starker tales that sound the depths of sacrifice and duty.
About the Author
Educated at Harvard, Princeton, and Oxford, Mark Helprin served in the Israeli Army, Israeli Air Force, and British Merchant Navy. He is the author of, among other titles, A Dove of the East and Other Stories, Refiner's Fire, Ellis Island and Other Stories, Winter's Tale, A Soldier of the Great War, and Memoir from Antproof Case.
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