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The Collected Stories of Amy Hempel

by

The Collected Stories of Amy Hempel Cover

 

Staff Pick

I read The Collected Stories in order, over the course of a single week. My long overdue introduction to Amy Hempel — it was a very good week, indeed. By the time I finished I'd penciled five names onto the back of the last page: friends who'll soon be getting a copy in the mail.

It would not be unfair to call Hempel a writer's writer, but it might be misleading — she's a reader's writer, too. Some of her stories contain only a few lines; few run longer than ten or twelve pages. None rely on high-concept mechanics or lofty language. She demands very little of her readership, and then delivers in spades. Hempel has been called a miniaturist — fair enough — but if her stories tend to be small in scale, they drill as deep as fiction goes. Emotionally charged, fantastically precise, an Amy Hempel story is a miracle of articulation.
Recommended by Dave, Powells.com

Of our two positions — you, not having read Amy Hempel, and me, having read and loved Amy Hempel — the equivalents are as follows: If we were playing Monopoly, consider Park Place mine. If we were trying to determine who tops whom in the food chain, please trust that you'd be the thin blade of saw grass in the mouth of the lamb I stalked for dinner. I play first chair in the philharmonic, I toss first pitch at the World Series. What I'm saying is reading Amy Hempel gives you the advantage. Because her fiction is perfect — her prose so distilled, you couldn't imagine she could pack in one voluminous truth after another (but she does); her understanding of undercurrent is so eerie, I find I sometimes have to brace myself for what's to come. It's all too easy to dismiss the hyperbole of book blurbs, but I invite you to open any page and start reading. I promise you'll already be a little better off for it.
Recommended by Jae, Powells.com

Review-A-Day

"Few fiction writers are as intensely admired by their peers as is Hempel, though she's never published a novel. Her reputation rests solely on the four landmark collections of short fiction gathered here....Although leavened by a wry rue, Hempel's is a hard-boiled sensibility, and each of her stories — many only a few pages long, and one of which consists of a single sentence — will leave the reader shaken..." Benjamin Schwarz, Atlantic Monthly (read the entire Atlantic Monthly review)

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

Amy Hempel is a master of the short story. This celebrated volume gathers together her complete work — four short collections of stunning stories about marriages, minor disasters, and moments of revelation.

With her inimitable compassion and wit, Hempel introduces characters who make choices that seem inevitable, and whose longings and misgivings evoke eternal human experience.

For readers who have known Hempel's work for decades and for those who are just discovering her, this indispensable volume contains all the stories in Reasons to Live, At the Gates of the Animal Kingdom, Tumble Home, and The Dog of the Marriage. No reader of great writing should be without it.

Review:

"Hempel's four collections of short fiction are all masterful; while readers await the follow-up to last year's acclaimed The Dog of the Marriage, this compendium restores the full set to print. The first of Hempel's books, Reasons to Live (1985), is justly celebrated by Rick Moody in his preface as a landmark of its era's 'short-story renaissance'; it introduces Hempel's unmistakable tone, where a 'besieged consciousness,' Moody says, hones sentences to bladelike sharpness 'to enact and defend survival.' The second, At the Gates of the Animal Kingdom (1990), is the main reason to buy this book: used copies are scarce, and the collection contains stories like 'The Harvest.' Hempel's genius, whether in first or third person, is to make her characters' feelings completely integral to the scenes they inhabit; her terse descriptions become elegantly telegraphic — and telepathic — reportage, with not a word wasted and not a single fact embellished. Her great subject is the failure of human coupling, and she charts it at every stage: giddy beginnings, sexy thick-of-its, wan (or violent) outcomes, grim aftermaths. Seeing it laid out kaleidoscopically in this volume is an awesome thing indeed, and a pleasure lovers of the short story will not want to deny themselves. Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Review:

"Hempel writes with an effortless wit...showing us the larger shapes of our lives by capturing their most fleeting and fragmentary moments." Elizabeth Gleick, New York Times Book Review

Review:

"Each story is so tight, so boiled to bare facts, that all you can do is lie on the floor, face down, and praise it." Chuck Palahniuk

Review:

"There are writers who pull you along in deep, satisfying drafts of narrative and human color; then there are writers who, sentence by sentence, cause you to stop breathing. Hempel leads the latter group." O, The Oprah Magazine

Review:

"This could be a very short review. Read this book. These stories are...always original and perfectly expressed." New York Times Book Review

Review:

"Hempel is unique. Her word-by-word virtuosity is off the charts; her artistic evolution is phenomenal." Chicago Tribune

Synopsis:

With her trademark compassion and wit, Hempel takes readers into the marriages, minor disasters, and moments of revelation in an uneasy America.

About the Author

Amy Hempel is the author of Tumble Home, Reasons to Live, At the Gates of the Animal Kingdom, The Dog of the Marriage, and the co-editor of Unleashed. Her stories have appeared in Elle, GQ, Harper's, Playboy, The Quarterly, and Vanity Fair. She teaches in the Graduate Writing Program at Bennington College and lives in New York City.

Table of Contents

On Amy Hempel

REASONS TO LIVE
In a Tub
Tonight Is a Favor to Holly
Celia Is Back
Nashville Gone to Ashes
San Francisco
In the Cemetery Where Al Jolson Is Buried
Beg, Sl Tog, Inc, Cont, Rep
Going
Pool Night
Three Popes Walk into a Bar
The Man in Bogota
When It's Human Instead of When It's Dog
Why I'm Here
Breathing Jesus
Today Will Be a Quiet Day

AT THE GATES OF THE ANIMAL KINGDOM
Daylight Come
The Harvest
The Most Girl Part of You
Rapture of the Deep
Du Jour
Murder
The Day I Had Everything
To Those of You Who Missed Your Connecting Flights Out of O'Hare
And Lead Us Not into Penn Station
In the Animal Shelter
At the Gates of the Animal Kingdom
The Lady Will Have the Slug Louie
Under No Moon
The Center
Tom-Rock Through the Eels
The Rest of God

TUMBLE HOME
Weekend
Church Cancels Cow
The Children's Party
Sportsman
Housewife
The Annex
The New Lodger
Tumble Home
Notes

THE DOG OF THE MARRIAGE
Beach Town
Jesus Is Waiting
The Uninvited
Reference #388475848-5
What Were the White Things?
The Dog of the Marriage
The Afterlife
Memoir
Offertory
Notes

What Our Readers Are Saying

Add a comment for a chance to win!
Average customer rating based on 1 comment:

mhartford, April 14, 2009 (view all comments by mhartford)
Amy Hempel’s stories are like nothing else in contemporary fiction. They are plotless, almost characterless, but rich in imagery and emotion, more in the mode of confessional poetry than fiction. The language is careful but chatty at the same time, and deceptive in its apparent honesty; the stories invite us in for an intimate talk, but push us away with undisclosed facts.

The “unreliable narrator” is typically a subtle technique: over the course of a story, we begin to suspect that the governess is seeing something other than ghosts, that the grieving husband has an ulterior motive, that . But in Amy Hempel’s stories, the narrators announce their unreliability in plain and direct language, and even warn us when they’re lying.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
(5 of 8 readers found this comment helpful)

Product Details

ISBN:
9780743291637
Author:
Hempel, Amy
Publisher:
Scribner Book Company
Introduction by:
Moody, Rick
Introduction:
Moody, Rick
Illustrator:
Moody, Rick
Author:
Moody, Rick
Subject:
Literary
Subject:
Short Stories (single author)
Subject:
Stories (single author)
Subject:
United states
Subject:
Social life and customs
Subject:
United States Social life and customs.
Subject:
Literature-A to Z
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Trade Paperback
Publication Date:
20070931
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Illustrations:
Y
Pages:
432
Dimensions:
8.44 x 5.5 in 13.09 oz

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Related Subjects

Featured Titles » Literature
Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z

The Collected Stories of Amy Hempel Used Trade Paper
0 stars - 0 reviews
$11.50 In Stock
Product details 432 pages Scribner Book Company - English 9780743291637 Reviews:
"Staff Pick" by ,

I read The Collected Stories in order, over the course of a single week. My long overdue introduction to Amy Hempel — it was a very good week, indeed. By the time I finished I'd penciled five names onto the back of the last page: friends who'll soon be getting a copy in the mail.

It would not be unfair to call Hempel a writer's writer, but it might be misleading — she's a reader's writer, too. Some of her stories contain only a few lines; few run longer than ten or twelve pages. None rely on high-concept mechanics or lofty language. She demands very little of her readership, and then delivers in spades. Hempel has been called a miniaturist — fair enough — but if her stories tend to be small in scale, they drill as deep as fiction goes. Emotionally charged, fantastically precise, an Amy Hempel story is a miracle of articulation.

"Staff Pick" by ,

Of our two positions — you, not having read Amy Hempel, and me, having read and loved Amy Hempel — the equivalents are as follows: If we were playing Monopoly, consider Park Place mine. If we were trying to determine who tops whom in the food chain, please trust that you'd be the thin blade of saw grass in the mouth of the lamb I stalked for dinner. I play first chair in the philharmonic, I toss first pitch at the World Series. What I'm saying is reading Amy Hempel gives you the advantage. Because her fiction is perfect — her prose so distilled, you couldn't imagine she could pack in one voluminous truth after another (but she does); her understanding of undercurrent is so eerie, I find I sometimes have to brace myself for what's to come. It's all too easy to dismiss the hyperbole of book blurbs, but I invite you to open any page and start reading. I promise you'll already be a little better off for it.

"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "Hempel's four collections of short fiction are all masterful; while readers await the follow-up to last year's acclaimed The Dog of the Marriage, this compendium restores the full set to print. The first of Hempel's books, Reasons to Live (1985), is justly celebrated by Rick Moody in his preface as a landmark of its era's 'short-story renaissance'; it introduces Hempel's unmistakable tone, where a 'besieged consciousness,' Moody says, hones sentences to bladelike sharpness 'to enact and defend survival.' The second, At the Gates of the Animal Kingdom (1990), is the main reason to buy this book: used copies are scarce, and the collection contains stories like 'The Harvest.' Hempel's genius, whether in first or third person, is to make her characters' feelings completely integral to the scenes they inhabit; her terse descriptions become elegantly telegraphic — and telepathic — reportage, with not a word wasted and not a single fact embellished. Her great subject is the failure of human coupling, and she charts it at every stage: giddy beginnings, sexy thick-of-its, wan (or violent) outcomes, grim aftermaths. Seeing it laid out kaleidoscopically in this volume is an awesome thing indeed, and a pleasure lovers of the short story will not want to deny themselves. Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Review A Day" by , "Few fiction writers are as intensely admired by their peers as is Hempel, though she's never published a novel. Her reputation rests solely on the four landmark collections of short fiction gathered here....Although leavened by a wry rue, Hempel's is a hard-boiled sensibility, and each of her stories — many only a few pages long, and one of which consists of a single sentence — will leave the reader shaken..." (read the entire Atlantic Monthly review)
"Review" by , "Hempel writes with an effortless wit...showing us the larger shapes of our lives by capturing their most fleeting and fragmentary moments."
"Review" by , "Each story is so tight, so boiled to bare facts, that all you can do is lie on the floor, face down, and praise it."
"Review" by , "There are writers who pull you along in deep, satisfying drafts of narrative and human color; then there are writers who, sentence by sentence, cause you to stop breathing. Hempel leads the latter group."
"Review" by , "This could be a very short review. Read this book. These stories are...always original and perfectly expressed."
"Review" by , "Hempel is unique. Her word-by-word virtuosity is off the charts; her artistic evolution is phenomenal."
"Synopsis" by , With her trademark compassion and wit, Hempel takes readers into the marriages, minor disasters, and moments of revelation in an uneasy America.
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