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What You've Been Missing (John Simmons Short Fiction Award)

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What You've Been Missing (John Simmons Short Fiction Award) Cover

ISBN13: 9780877459101
ISBN10: 087745910x
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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

Populated by characters as frank as their midwestern settings, What You’ve Been Missing, Janet Desaulniers’s debut collection, explores the unsettling moments when ordinary life ceases to exist. Parents, confused by their five-year-old’s refusal to sit up in her chair, lift her blouse to find she’s been beaten. A woman returns from a shopping trip just in time to see her husband kissing a young co-worker. A young husband constructs an elaborate and romanticized version of his new marriage and then ruins it in one gesture. These singular moments propel each person on a journey beyond the realm of everyday existence.

Vividly portraying the possible horrors and detours that can mark anyone’s life, Desaulniers beautifully captures the vast and often conflicting emotions that humans endure at times of loss and sorrow—loneliness, pain, desperation, desire. Yet this balletic push and pull of emotions will challenge, wound, and ultimately enlighten her characters, transporting them to a place beyond individual sorrow.

At times unbearably heartbreaking, What You’ve Been Missing is not just another set of stories about bad things happening to good people. At its heart, this award-winning collection is about people continuing to talk—rather than shutting down—as bad things happen to them. As the recently divorced Liza thinks in “The Good Fight”: “Words do ease us. They comfort us. Maybe they protect us in a way, rescue us from the agony of what our bodies feel.”

Review:

"'Hope and regret, child. You seem to be making a home for yourself exactly in between,' says a young bar regular in this delicately rendered debut collection about the emotional consequences of loss. Other characters are caught in that balance as well: daughters trying on different versions of themselves after their father's death; a boy grappling with his parents' joint-custody divorce; a nave young woman discovering her husband and his co-worker mid-kiss. The stories, set in modern-day Midwestern towns, are told in uncomplicated but elegant language and a graceful, even tone. Realistic dialogue and poignant introspection portray grief as multilayered — confusing, exhausting and inspiring. Desaulniers slips up only occasionally in characterization; a young girl awaiting her mother's next departure, for example, is too thin and vague a figure to embody the nuances of an abandoned childhood. But when Desaulniers is good, she's excellent, as in the gripping 'The Next Day,' in which thoughtful Tucker says of his wife's late-night storytelling: 'She tells me these stories because she trusts me to love her more than she loves herself. This is how people merge, I think.' Moments such as these distinguish the collection: simple enough to be recognizable yet unusual enough to be remarkable. Agent, Alexis Hurley. (Oct.) Forecast: Winner of the John Simmons Short Fiction Award, this collection can be confidently recommended to any fan of short stories. " Publishers Weekly (Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information, Inc.)

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 1 comment:

FBB, December 30, 2009 (view all comments by FBB)
Ms. Desaulniers' prose is some of the finest I've read, and her voice brings us into the lives of her characters, people we might even know, and they come alive in this work. I very highly recommend this title to serious readers of short fiction; you cannot do much better than this. Trust me.
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Product Details

ISBN:
9780877459101
Author:
Desaulniers, Janet
Publisher:
University of Iowa Press
Location:
Iowa
Subject:
Literary
Subject:
Social life and customs
Subject:
United states
Subject:
Short Stories (single author)
Subject:
United States Social life and customs.
Subject:
General Fiction
Subject:
Literature-A to Z
Edition Description:
Trade Paper
Series:
Iowa Short Fiction Award
Series Volume:
v. 104
Publication Date:
20040831
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Language:
English
Pages:
140
Dimensions:
9.25 x 5.5 x 0.4 in

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Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z

What You've Been Missing (John Simmons Short Fiction Award) New Trade Paper
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Product details 140 pages University of Iowa Press - English 9780877459101 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "'Hope and regret, child. You seem to be making a home for yourself exactly in between,' says a young bar regular in this delicately rendered debut collection about the emotional consequences of loss. Other characters are caught in that balance as well: daughters trying on different versions of themselves after their father's death; a boy grappling with his parents' joint-custody divorce; a nave young woman discovering her husband and his co-worker mid-kiss. The stories, set in modern-day Midwestern towns, are told in uncomplicated but elegant language and a graceful, even tone. Realistic dialogue and poignant introspection portray grief as multilayered — confusing, exhausting and inspiring. Desaulniers slips up only occasionally in characterization; a young girl awaiting her mother's next departure, for example, is too thin and vague a figure to embody the nuances of an abandoned childhood. But when Desaulniers is good, she's excellent, as in the gripping 'The Next Day,' in which thoughtful Tucker says of his wife's late-night storytelling: 'She tells me these stories because she trusts me to love her more than she loves herself. This is how people merge, I think.' Moments such as these distinguish the collection: simple enough to be recognizable yet unusual enough to be remarkable. Agent, Alexis Hurley. (Oct.) Forecast: Winner of the John Simmons Short Fiction Award, this collection can be confidently recommended to any fan of short stories. " Publishers Weekly (Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information, Inc.)
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