Synopses & Reviews
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.
"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.)
"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
"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
"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
"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
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
In the Cemetery Where Al Jolson Is Buried
Beg, Sl Tog, Inc, Cont, Rep
Three Popes Walk into a Bar
The Man in Bogota
When It's Human Instead of When It's Dog
Why I'm Here
Today Will Be a Quiet Day
AT THE GATES OF THE ANIMAL KINGDOM
The Most Girl Part of You
Rapture of the Deep
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
Tom-Rock Through the Eels
The Rest of God
Church Cancels Cow
The Children's Party
The New Lodger
THE DOG OF THE MARRIAGE
Jesus Is Waiting
What Were the White Things?
The Dog of the Marriage