Synopses & Reviews
Set in contemporary Los Angeles, this mature debut shines an unexpected light on this most duplicitous of cities.
Although all the characters in Babe in Paradise live in Los Angeles, none of them partake of the glamour and success that mark the city. Marisa Silver's characters -- a community-college teacher, an equipment-rental store manager, a limousine driver, and a struggling actress among them -- live on the periphery of the city's allure. Babe of the title story must confront the complete dissolution of her past when a fire threatens to engulf the hillside house she and her mother share. A car-jacking forces the young husband and wife of "What I Saw from Where I Stood" to confront the loss of a child and the way in which this loss has reshaped their marriage.
The unforgettable characters in Babe in Paradise dwell in the Los Angeles of seismic geological change, of racial unease, of parched desert landscapes littered with the detritus of urban ambition. Silver has a genius for making us care deeply about her characters, their everyday desperations and hard-won hopes.
"Silver sets her oblique, atmospheric tales against the backdrop of a sprawling Los Angeles in this uneven but promising first short story collection. Many of the nine stories are equipped with painfully real characters and strikingly inventive writing, but too often an exciting premise leads to a dead end, and characters metamorphose in ways that go unexplored....Sporadically illuminating if ultimately disappointing, Silver's tales aim to show how, with a little bravery, anyone can learn to love the City of Angels." Publishers Weekly
"A very impressive debut from a writer of striking talent." Richard Russo
"Energetic, inventive, and intensely dramatic, these fine stories illuminate unexpectantly dark corners of the American dream." Andrea Barrett
"Silver's stories gained her critical acclaim in The New Yorker last year....[They] present Los Angeles as it exists apart from the glamour of Hollywood, and they show that there is drama enough in common, everyday life." Booklist
About the Author
MARISA SILVER received her M.F.A. from the Warren Wilson Program for Writers. She made her fictional debut in The New Yorker. One of the stories in this collection, "What I Saw from Where I Stood," was chosen for The Best American Short Stories 2000. She has previously worked as a feature film director and lives in Los Angeles.
Table of Contents
Babe in paradise -- Two criminals -- What I saw from where I stood -- Statues -- Thief -- Falling bodies -- Gunsmoke -- The missing -- The passenger.