Stories both fresh and vintage from a master writer by SuzanneLaPierre []
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Fresh complaint : stories

by Jeffrey Eugenides

  Print book : Fiction

Stories both fresh and vintage from a master writer   (2018-02-06)


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by SuzanneLaPierre

Fans of author Jeffrey Eugenides know that he has an uncanny ability to get inside the minds of his characters. Clearly this author does his research on everything from physics to clavichords as his fiction requires, but beyond that he just gets people. This short story collection showcases the range of that talent, from the point of view of a teenage girl desperate to escape an arranged marriage to a recently suicidal man reconnecting with life while picking artichokes. 

I heard Mr. Eugenides read from this collection recently in Washington, DC. The story he read aloud, Complainers, was his way of sorting through the recent experience of his mother’s decline from dementia. The author explained how he wrote this story by starting with the part of his mother he knew least- her long friendship with another woman- and building the narrative around that. This story is also twist on the "book within a book" device. In the story Air Mail, Mitchell, a character who is left hanging at the end of The Marriage Plot, surfaces abroad as if continuing his journey- but the date of the story reveals that the author wrote the piece in 1996, fifteen years before The Marriage Plot was published. Dr. Luce reappears in The Oracular Vulva, a story Mr. Eugenides describes as an “outtake” from Middlesex. Overall, this was a satisfying collection of new and old stories by this Pulitzer Prize winning author.

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