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Airships Paperback – March 6, 1994


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Grove Press; Reprint edition (March 6, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802133886
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802133885
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.4 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #158,914 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"Barry Hannah is the best fiction writer to appear in the South since Flannery O'Connor." —Larry McMurtry

"Strong, original, tragic and funny in the same voice-a writer of violent honesty and power in the creative Southern tradition." —Alfred Kazin

"These stories are wonderful in the ways Mark Twain, Faulkner and Flannery O'Connor are wonderful when they are working the great vein of fierce and pitiless Southern comedy. The war stories in particular-joining, as they do for me, the clownish misery and colossal overkill of Vietnam to the American Civil War-are masterpieces of their kind. Hannah is more than just a new voice-he is half a dozen brilliant new voices." —Philip Roth

"Barry Hannah takes fiction by surprise-scenes, shocks, sounds and amazements: an explosive but meticulous originality." —Cynthia Ozick

"Talents as broad as this thrive in novels but rarely take to the more constricting form of the short story. Airships proves Barry Hannah an exception . . . artfully rounded-off vignettes jumping with humor and menace. . . . The stories bounce off and echo one another, giving the book an impact greater than the sum of its parts. . . . Most young Southern writers resent being compared to such past giants as Faulkner and Flannery O'Connor. In embracing the gothic mode, Hannah has planted himself firmly on their turf. On the evidence of this book, their shadows are not stunting his growth." —Time

"Exhilarating! Hannah is afraid of nothing in experience. He runs to meet life and to transform it." —Denis Donoghue

"Barry Hannah's writing is raw and exhilarating, tortured, radiant, vicious, aggressive, funny, and streaked with rage, pain and bright poetic truth." —Philadelphia Inquirer

"Hannah's stories are powerful, and powerfully original." —John Gardner

"One reads Barry Hannah and is amazed! Airships places him in the very first rank of American literary artists, and leaves us breathless with the force of its feeling." —James Dickey

"Barry Hannah is an original, vital talent." —The Houston Chronicle

From the Inside Flap

Winner of the Arnold Gingrich Short Fiction Award

Now considered a contemporary classic, Airships was honored by Esquire magazine with the Arnold Gingrich Short Fiction Award, and its author was welcomed on the cover of The New York Times Book Review as a "sensational new comic writer."

These twenty stories are a fresh, exuberant celebration of the new American South-a land of high school band contests, where good old boys from Vicksurg are reunited in Vietnam and petty nostalgia and the constant pain of disappointed love prevail. Airships is a striking demonstration of Barry Hannah's mature and original talent.

Includes:

"Water Liars"
"Love Too Long"
"Testimony of Pilot"
"Coming Close to Donna"
"Dragged Fighting from His Tomb"
"Quo Vadis, Smut?"
"Return to Return"
"Green Gets It"
"Midnight and I'm Not Famous Yet"
"Our Secret Home"
"Eating Wife and Friends"
"All the Old Harkening Faces at the Rail"
"Knowing He Was Not My Kind Yet I Followed"
"That's True"
"Escape to Newark"
"Pete Resists the Man of His Old Room"
"Behold the Husband in his Perfect Agony"
"Constant Pain in Tuscaloosa"
"Deaf and Dumb"
"Mother Rooney Unscrolls the Heart"

More About the Author

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Customer Reviews

Barry Hannah will be sorely missed.
A.J. Bateman
When I pick up this book, I literally feel my pulse quicken.
Charles Dodd White
Overall, solid just not to my tastes.
Brian Rosenberger

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Crag Talent on December 5, 2006
Format: Paperback
I can always tell a great book by the fact I'm constantly thinking of bits I'd like to steal while reading. By that criteria, reading Airships was like being tossed in a jewlery store at night without any security around.

Airships is a collection of stories about war, sex, airplanes and horses. The usual, but done with incredible style and energy. I find that far too much modern short fiction is so polished and calculated it comes out as a dulled diamond (or more often polished stone), but Hannah's work is full of the rough, gritty, loose writing that draws you in like possessed jungle vines and then you get attacked by a Panther or something.

A few of the stories fall short and at least one didn't work at all for me, but I'll still give it a big ol' A+
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33 of 38 people found the following review helpful By David Antonelli on November 22, 1999
Format: Paperback
A wonderful collection of stories that made me laugh outloud more than anything since the first time I read Celine. From one story to the next I was trully captivated. What sets him apart from other writers is his T.S. Eliot - like gift to come up with phrases that ring in your head like coins for years to come. No writer ever has been able to sum up a character in a single sentence like Hannah. Her husband was an intellectual in real estate... etc. The same is true in other volumes. Latouche (with metaphysical approaches named after him), is a good example.
I am not yet published but have written nine novels and hope my day will come soon. Hannah along with Richard Ford, Cormack McCarthy, Flaubert, Rilke, Celine, and Peter Handke, are my all-time favorites. Thanks for the inspiration!
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20 of 24 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 17, 1999
Format: Paperback
This is one of the greatest short story collections/cycles in the history of the form. To hell with political correctness. When the smoke of overeducated ignorance clears from the last half of this century, Airships will be canonical.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Charles Dodd White on April 16, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Airships is a book that breaks apart expectations of what the short form can do. The language is so exacting and unique as to put this book in a league of its own. The stories are themselves alternately Gothic and realistic, but regardless of the mode, the intelligence behind the narrative is plain scary. The story "Testimony of Pilot" may be the single best short story I've ever read. When I pick up this book, I literally feel my pulse quicken. Hannah is one hell of an amusement ride. This is a great intro to the rest of his work.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 29, 1998
Format: Paperback
A hilarious, trenchant, and effervescently surreal examination of a range of situations and (mainly Southern) characters. The writer covers artists, cannibals, Civil War soldiers, and yes, even some racists and misogynists. All are brilliantly imagined and colored with Hannah's almost insane inventiveness and wit. An excellent, challenging set of stories that stretches the confines of great writing. Not for grannies or traditionalists.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Kenneth G. Ira on November 17, 2013
Format: Paperback
Barry Hannah spent most of his adult life as a hopeless but somehow functioning alcoholic, which doesn't come as any surprise to someone who has read this collection of short stories. I would be gobsmacked to learn that any of these stories had been written by anyone even remotely sober. That doesn't positively affect the quality of these stories, but it doesn't completely ruin them either. A few of the stories in this collection were fantastic ("Testimony of Pilot" being the very best), a few were impressive but ill-conceived or seemingly pointless ("Knowing He Was Not My Kind Yet I Followed"), and quite a few were nothing but funny-bizarre sentences placed at random on the same page as other funny-bizarre sentences. By my count, there is not a single story in this entire collection that does not mention: 1) booze; 2) snatch. There are few stories in this collection that actually work as "stories" in the sense of an interrelated chain of events or states put together in a meaningful order. Overall, the impression you get is one of incredible talent simply hosed onto the page without any real self-discipline.

If you ask me (that "me" being someone who will certainly never be a great writer -probably not even a decent one), Barry Hannah could have achieved true greatness if only he'd learned how to rein in all the overblown surreality without killing all that passion and verbal talent. If literature were nothing but one shocking sentence after another, then Barry Hannah would have been the sum of a billion Shakespeares. What we have got here, though, is still worth reading and still worth four stars.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 4, 1999
Format: Paperback
Barry Hannah is a great Southern writer, to be sure, but he's also just a flat out great writer. This collection is intense, hillarious, joyful, heartbreaking and sometimes very, very weird. It is magnificent. Don't stop with this one, though. Read RAY. Read GERONIMO REX. Read BATS OUT OF HELL. Hell, read everything you can get your grubby little hands on. I've never gone away from a Barry Hanna book disappointed or unchanged.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Col. D on May 6, 2010
Format: Paperback
Running through these stories feels like listing to the tracks off a really good album. Plenty of spicy, but pretty writing. Two of Hannah's favorite words are "fraud" and "organ" (his way of describing genitalia). Have fun with it.
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