Synopses & Reviews
When Ann Beattie began publishing short stories in The New Yorker
in the mid-seventies, she emerged with a voice so original, and so uncannily precise and prescient in its assessment of her characters' drift and narcissism, that she was instantly celebrated as a voice of her generation. Her name became an adjective: Beattiesque. Subtle, wry, and unnerving, she is a master observer of the unraveling of the American family, and also of the myriad small occurrences and affinities that unite us. Her characters, over nearly four decades, have moved from lives of fickle desire to the burdens and inhibitions of adulthood and on to failed aspirations, sloppy divorces, and sometimes enlightenment, even grace.
Each Beattie story, says Margaret Atwood, is like a fresh bulletin from the front: we snatch it up, eager to know what's happening out there on the edge of that shifting and dubious no-man's-land known as interpersonal relations. With an unparalleled gift for dialogue and laser wit, she delivers flash reports on the cultural landscape of her time. Ann Beattie: The New Yorker Stories is the perfect initiation for readers new to this iconic American writer and a glorious return for those who have known and loved her work for decades.
"Gathered in chronological order from 1974 to 1986, these early stories elucidate tension, suspicion, and the uneasy truces between married and divorced couples. Women are in flux and a general malaise settles over the urban dwellers or small town transplants, with notable departures. Though readers may be tempted to regard Beattie's characters as emblematic of their time, even as uniquely 'American' in their self-involved, luxurious problems, they have weathered well and transcend easy classification. Beattie has mastered the tango between intelligent, sometimes perplexed individuals, allowing gradual, believable erosions to stand in place of high drama. 'The Cinderella Waltz' draws an empathetic triangulation between the narrator, her ex-husband, and his current partner; 'Home to Marie' offers a cruel take on unfulfilled expectations. Taken in full, these stories are taut evocations of separation and resignation, even as they reveal tenderness, and the best of them portray love and hatred not as intense polarities, but as tempered forces with fine gradations.
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright PWyxz LLC)
"As much as anyone in the past fifty years--you give me your Mavis Gallant, I'll give you my Frank O'Connor -- Ann Beattie's slow-forming monument of a lifework defines what the short story can do, the extent of human life it can encompass." Jonathan Lethem
"It is a testament to [Beattie's] unceasing artistic growth … that the final works in this grand retrospective are as provocative as the first… This scintillating volume showcases Beattie's stunning insights into the eternal isolation of individuals and each decade's signature longing and conflicts. … Laced with ambivalence and irony and punctuated with unexpected reprieves, Beattie's brilliantly structured stories are mordantly funny, haunting, wise, making for a glorious collection." Donna Seaman, Booklist
From a master of the short form, a collection of all the stories Ann Beattie has published in The New Yorker.
About the Author
Ann Beattie has been included in four O. Henry Award Collections and in John Updike’s The Best American Short Stories of the Century. In 2000, she received the PEN/Malamud Award for achievement in the short story form. In 2005, she received the Rea Award for the Short Story. She and her husband, Lincoln Perry, live in Key West, Florida, and Charlottesville, Virginia, where she is Edgar Allan Poe Professor of Literature and Creative Writing at the University of Virginia.