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Animal Crackers Paperback – March 1, 2005


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 17 pages
  • Publisher: Dial Press / Random House (March 1, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385337442
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385337441
  • Product Dimensions: 7.9 x 5.1 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #964,966 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Animals play the starring roles in Tinti's striking debut collection. In 11 highly original, sometimes gorgeous stories, they are freighted with the symbolic significance of all that is peculiar, cruel and loving in their human counterparts. "Big animals are like big problems," says the title story's zookeeper, but more often, it's people and their complex relationships to themselves and one another that cause the problems. In "Preservation," a young painter charged with restoring murals in a natural history museum's dioramas is haunted by the impending death of her artist father in the form of a stuffed black bear come to life. A woman mourns the loss of her lover while caring for his pet boa constrictor in "How to Revitalize the Snake in Your Life." Tinti's weaker stories"-Gallus, Gallus" and "Hit Man of the Year"-read more like parables and lack the psychological realism that makes her wildest notions work so brilliantly. At its best, Tinti's suburban gothic recalls Joy Williams, where violence is domesticated though no less horrifying: a mother commits murder and covers the body with breakfast cereal in "Home Sweet Home," while in "Bloodworks," a father with his own history of cruelty to animals discovers a dead kitten in his son's closet and worries that there is "something in the family blood." A redeeming generosity underlies the harsher realities in these stories, and it is to Tinti's credit that her zookeepers and pet owners, as flawed as they are, are as sympathetic as her wise giraffes and gentle bunnies.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Booklist

Tinti boldly parses primal emotions in her stealthy short stories, which, like cats' paws, conceal weapons of great precision. Each tale posits interaction between animals and humans, which, rather than offering cuddly moments, lead to vicious or spooky confrontations. Zoos make perfect theaters for Tinti's creepy and caustic satires. In the title story, an unhappy zoo worker assigned the task of washing an elephant has a dire plan in mind, and in the Animal Farm-like "Reasonable Terms," giraffes enact a dramatic protest. A museum of natural history is the setting for "Preservation," Tinti's finest, most compassionate, and most richly metaphorical story. A rabbit, rooster, and boa constrictor play pivotal roles in alarming tales on the domestic front, in which ironically prosaic backdrops contrast with shocking acts of cold-blooded revenge and bloodshed. Tinti's fables are dark and wily, grim yet morbidly fascinating exposures of both our animal selves and our uniquely human psychoses. Donna Seaman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

More About the Author

Hannah Tinti is the author of the short story collection Animal Crackers and co-founder and editor in chief of One Story magazine. Her best-selling novel, The Good Thief, is a New York Times Notable Book of the Year, winner of the Quality Paperback Bookclub New Voices Award, winner of the Center for Fiction's First Novel Prize, and a recipient of the American Library Association's Alex Award. Recently she joined the cast of the Public Radio program Selected Shorts.

Customer Reviews

The stories are original, funny and touch on aspects of our rawest emotions.
Anton
The animals are juxtaposed next to the central characters to reflect the primal instinct humans have that are often repressed or have gone unrecognized.
lachap2
This book invites you to savor each story and really think about what is going on.
E. V. Holland

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Bookreporter on May 1, 2004
Format: Hardcover
"Everyone who works with animals has a mark somewhere," observes an elephant keeper in the title story of Hannah Tinti's debut short story collection, ANIMAL CRACKERS. For some these marks are physical --- Sandy, who is in charge of the monkey house, has a scar across her face where a gorilla bit her; another elephant keeper has lost an arm. But for others, the marks are deeply psychological: Mike, a failed poet, trains sea lions and tries to pawn his chapbooks to zoogoers, and Ann sells tickets while obsessively guarding her bald cat.
"Animal Crackers" is a fitting introduction to the ten stories that follow, all of which explore characters' relationships with various animals and how they locate meaning in giraffes at the zoo, a neighbor's cat, a stuffed bear in a museum, or an ex-boyfriend's snake. Tinti, who co-founded and edits the literary magazine One Story, mines these human/animal interactions for surprisingly effective metaphors that eloquently reveal her characters' views of themselves and the world around them.
In "Reasonable Terms," three giraffes go on strike for better habitat conditions. Lying prone on the ground, their eyes rolled back and their tongues lolling out, they play dead and refuse to entertain their audiences. The predicament causes the zookeeper to reflect on his own marriage: "The zookeeper looked at the animals prostrate in the dirt and was reminded of pre-Darwinian concepts of evolution --- that the length of giraffes' necks was determined by stretching to obtain what they desire. He wondered if this kind of despair was inside Matilda.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 24, 2004
Format: Hardcover
The reader who comes to Tinti's tales expecting a tame petting zoo will, with swiftly mounting unease, realize that he has instead entered a darkly dangerous den. Each story in this collection is tightly coiled and poised to strike. The animals are endowed with preternatural intelligence and will. More disturbingly, the human characters evince a vicious predatory streak and an incalculability of action and reaction. By upending our perceptions of man and beast, Tinti keeps us deliciously off-balance. Her unflinching descriptions and trenchant insights combine to make Animal Crackers a riveting and haunting read.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 2, 2004
Format: Hardcover
I read every page of this magical book with the excitement of discovering something new about myself and the world we share. Tinti's insight into the soul of every character, and the way she magically imbues animals with a prescient lens into the human condition, will touch you in a way like no other collection of short stories I've ever read has done before. Realizing this is her first book, I can't wait to see what else springs from the imagination of this new talent! Whatever it is, Tinti's books, current and future, like her storied animal companions, will roar!
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 24, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Tinti uses animals in a clever way to reveal something fundamentally human about all of the characters that inhabit the magical and beautiful stories in her collection. The stories evoke an emotional response deeply disturbing because they arise from events created by well developed characters that have a piece of us in them. My recommendation is to read the stories and then hold up a mirror -- Tinti will grab you in her web of literary precision.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By smele on December 7, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is a book that I have read once and probably will never read again. It's not to say that Tinti's stories weren't good, simply that they are forgettable to my mind, and not one stuck out as "Wow! This is one of the best things I've ever read! Let me pull that out again."

Animal Crackers is bound together by the idea of animals in the lives of Hannah Tinti's characters, and what I did like about this collection was the way that Tinti shows the ways her characters are coping with the problems in their lives. Tinti's characters are all strange people, but in a depressing way. There's a desperately lonely woman who tries to curb the loneliness with the snake her ex-boyfriend left behind and makes a list of the snake's favorite things. A housewife murders her husband's lover, but turns off the stove and oven before leaving the house. A hitman waits for a couple to finish their dessert before shooting the woman, and then shoots the man before he notices that she's dead (a lovely act, in a twisted way). When a mother sees her son throwing his rabbit out of a window for the last time, she doesn't ever think, "My son is a wretched little demon-spawn", she's wondering if the rabbit remembered the last time he was thrown out of a window, if he was afraid, or if he was having fun. It's these little details that add so much to characters.

Overall, I enjoyed Tinti's writing. It wasn't pretentious or flowery, and her style doesn't make the stories drag. It's an enjoyable debut collection, it just wasn't memorable or mind-blowing to me.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Ruben Acoca on July 16, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Hannah Tinti has written an array of entertaining dark stories. She is very talented and obviously has the gift of a very imaginative mind. For the reader that is looking for something dark and well written, this is a perfect choice for summer reading. It might as well be good for xmas, reading Animal Crackers might just make the reader a gentler, smarter person.
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