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See Through: Storiesby Nelly Reifler
Synopses & Reviews
By turns electrifying and haunting, the stories in Nelly Reifler's debut collection, now available in paperback, imagine a world where the emotional logic of dreams and childhood fantasies rules our actions.
In the title story, an educated young woman sits behind the glass of a talk booth in a peep show and becomes a different girl for each man who visits. "The Splinter" posits a thorn in a little girl's scalp as the physical locus for a father's wrenching grief and helplessness following his wife's desertion. In "Teeny," an awkward, pubescent girl can't bring herself to perform the simple task of feeding the vacationing neighbors' cats. In "Baby," an infant asks his mother existential questions that are impossible to answer.
Exploring her characters' psyches with the precision of an anthropologist, Reifler illuminates physical urges, crippling fears, stark isolation, and overwhelming, often transgressive desires. Through it all, the author plumbs the deep chasm between expectation and reality with boundless hope, warmth, and wisdom.
"With unflinching precision, Reifler's debut collection of 14 short stories examines young protagonists negotiating adult-governed worlds....A few stories are weaker, but most suggest that the perceptive Reifler is a writer to watch." Publishers Weekly
"Filled with quirky, idiosyncratic personalities, this is a riveting and at times haunting collection....Simple, spare, and powerful, Reifler's writing has a staccato beat, and, for all of their flaws, her characters are memorable." Library Journal
"In prose that shines with precision and clarity, Nelly Reifler's stories take the reader into the opaque and frequently disturbing realms of human estrangement and desire. Intelligent, honest, and mordantly funny, See Through is an impressive work by a writer of rare gifts." Siri Hustvedt, author of What I Loved
"These stories have an eeriness that comes from their emotional precision. Reifler writes with her eyes set on a target and comes up with just the right gesture to reveal what is hidden, the right detail to break our hearts. We ache at the vulnerability of children in need of monsters and the casual suffering perpetrated on them by their elders — parents who break promises or can't make things right. These are stories to savor, then weep." Mary Morris, author of Acts of God
"Nelly Reifler has a wild, ironic, accomplished voice. For all their dark comedy, Reifler's stories perfectly depict the winds of listlessness and sadness that blow through our lives and leave us chilled. These little stories contain the huge unnerving conviction of an authentic writer." Darin Strauss, author of The Real McCoY and Chang and Eng
"Nelly Reifler's unnerving stories are brilliantly observed through a glass darkly...and on the other side we see that every mortal soul, no matter how young or old, is as vulnerable as a flower in the wind." Jacki Lyden, host, National Public Radio, and author of Daughter of the Queen of Sheba
About the Author
Nelly Reifler has published stories in magazines such as Bomb, Black Book, Post Road, Exquisite Corpse, and The Florida Review, as well as the anthologies 110 Stories: New York Writes After September 11 and Lost Tribe: Jewish Fiction from the Edge. A Rotunda Gallery grant recipient and MacDowell Fellow, she received the Henfield Prize for two of the stories in this collection. Her plays have been performed in the United States and Australia, and she currently teaches at Sarah Lawrence College. She lives in Brooklyn.
Table of Contents
The Splinter 49
The River and Una 81
North Curve 93
Personal Foundations of Self-Forming through Auto-Identification with Otherness 99
Summer Job 109
See through 141
What Our Readers Are Saying