Qty:1
FREE Shipping on orders over $35.
Temporarily out of stock.
Order now and we'll deliver when available.
Order now and we'll deliver when available. We'll e-mail you with an estimated delivery date as soon as we have more information. Your account will only be charged when we ship the item.
Details
Ships from and sold by Amazon.com.
Gift-wrap available.
Better Living Through Pla... has been added to your Cart
+ $3.99 shipping
Used: Acceptable | Details
Condition: :
Comment: Help save a tree. Buy all your used books from Green Earth Books. Read. Recycle and Reuse.
Have one to sell? Sell on Amazon
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more
See this image

Better Living Through Plastic Explosives Hardcover – April 5, 2011


See all 4 formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
Amazon Price New from Used from
Hardcover
"Please retry"
$16.00
$16.00 $0.89

Best Books of the Month
See the Best Books of the Month
Want to know our Editors' picks for the best books of the month? Browse Best Books of the Month, featuring our favorite new books in more than a dozen categories.
$16.00 FREE Shipping on orders over $35. Temporarily out of stock. Order now and we'll deliver when available. We'll e-mail you with an estimated delivery date as soon as we have more information. Your account will only be charged when we ship the item. Ships from and sold by Amazon.com. Gift-wrap available.

NO_CONTENT_IN_FEATURE

Best Books of the Month
Best Books of the Month
Want to know our Editors' picks for the best books of the month? Browse Best Books of the Month, featuring our favorite new books in more than a dozen categories.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Hamish Hamilton; 1St Edition edition (April 5, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0670065188
  • ISBN-13: 978-0670065189
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,934,443 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Amazon Best Books of the Month, December 2012: Shortlisted for Canada’s prestigious Giller Prize, Gartner’s wide-ranging and unrestrained collection--the short story “at its savage best,” as the Giller jury reported--manages a neat trick: It makes the ordinary seem absurd and the extraordinary seem everyday normal. People and events are turned upside down and inside out, whether it’s the movie industry, art, terrorism, or manhood. If there’s a theme running through these 10 witty, graceful, funny, and sometimes surreal stories, it’s a big fat poke at convention. Like an avant garde post-bebop jazz musician, Gartner seems to relish the unconventional, and her style of storytelling veers from ridiculous to eloquent to heartbreaking and back. --Neal Thompson --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

From Publishers Weekly

In the stories of Gartner's dexterous second collection (after All the Anxious Girls on Earth), set in or near Vancouver, Canada, the author turns her clever eye on a certain type of upper-class person: the food-snobbing, eco-obsessive, million-dollar-real-estate-negotiating, self-help-seeking yuppie. Two stories feature the collective voices of a suburban cul-de-sac's residents as they witness how new people change their behavior. In Summer of the Flesh Eater, the presence of a crass, low-class, meat-loving man whose truck decays in the front yard pulls the entire town down a Darwinian rabbit hole. And the white parents of The Adopted Chinese Daughters' Rebellion impose archaic Chinese customs, such as foot-binding, on their young, adopted daughters. These stories exemplify one of Gartner's strengths: her fiction walks an ice pond's thin skim between sadness and satire. Both begin with a tug of depression, a foreshadowing lament, and then delve into the rigidity of people's progressive beliefs. The stories do not languish here, but rollick into the depths of dark humor and absurdity. Gartner's themes are topical but never preachy, and she accents the ambiguities found in black-and-white arguments. Gartner delights in a little DeLilloesque postmodern trickery, imbuing new life and meaning to the everyday. It's a sharp voice in this collection. Handle carefully. Agent: Jackie Kaiser, Westwood Creative Artists. (Dec.) --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Customer Reviews

That alone makes it worth a read.
Crazy88Line Cook
I really wanted to like this book but I just could never quite catch my stride with it.
Rob Slaven
Well, Zsuzsi Gartner, you have a magnificent gem of a book!
B. Case

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By I Built a Mountain of Thunder on June 25, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Zsuzsi Gartner is a darn fine writer and reading "Better Living Through Plastic Explosives" both encouraged, yet depressed, me as a struggling, see fledgling, writer myself.

As an encouragement, this book gave me a clear understanding of what good short stories should look like. These are stories with tight, concrete sentences and language that highlights Gartner's cynical, yet sarcastic, tone.

However, the most appealing thing about "Better Living" is the characters. These are characters anxious with longing, characters bold enough to get drunk with existentialism and ask, "If we truly have developed from apes, then why do we still pick and prod at this thing called a soul?" and "Why are we doomed to want what we can't have?" and "Just what exactly are we doing here?"

Most of us aren't brave enough to sit down with these questions and talk to them until we're red in the face. But Gartner won't let her characters do that. No, Gartner sits her characters down and shows them, and us, that maybe life isn't about finding answers. Maybe life is about being courageous enough to ask questions, and not let go. Maybe life is a question without an answer, and maybe we feel sad for these characters because their inability to answer their questions reflects our inability to answer our questions, as well.

But at least they're bold enough to ask them, which is something us non-fictioneers are often too afraid, and unwilling, to do.

And for the depression. Well, the depression hits when I realize that I can't write like Zsuzsi Gartner, which, I guess, is okay--for now.

For now, I can just convince myself that I'm not carbon-copying her characters. And hope too, that somehow, she doesn't find out.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
8 of 11 people found the following review helpful By B. Case TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on October 22, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Zsuzsi Gartner's collection of short stories, "Better Living Through Plastic Explosives," is almost too brilliant, too literary, and too extraordinary for its own good. It is extraordinary...by which I mean fully outside and beyond what might normally be called outstanding literature; it is disarmingly unique--off on the tail end of the good literature bell curve.

Frankly, I liked the work very much...but I did not love it, and I think that is very significant. The stories rewarded me a thousand fold with breathtaking prose, astute social satire, dark humor, and uncommon insight...but I always felt uncomfortable reading it. It made me feel like I was holding and admiring the iridescent scales on a deadly viper.

Perhaps the problem is this: there is not one person I know whom I would encourage to read this book. Doesn't that say a lot? And how do I review a work like that? In my years as a literary reviewer, I've read some weird and wonderful literary gems--almost all with potentially small audiences--but this work is truly remarkable, peerless, and singularly distinctive.

Am I making my point yet? Let me try to imagine for you the type of person who might enjoy this work. That person would probably need to be cosmopolitan (living in a densely populated metropolitan area); brilliant with a first-rate liberal arts education and an advanced degree (no mere average college education would do); a fairly radical liberal (definitely opinionated, perhaps even a closet ecoterrorist); comfortably in touch with elements of the current ongoing academic counterculture; an astute observer of modern culture; and someone who can find joy and humor in looking at the dark side of modern life, i.e.
Read more ›
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Rob Slaven on November 1, 2012
Format: Hardcover
As usual I received this book from a GoodReads giveaway.

I really wanted to like this book but I just could never quite catch my stride with it. The stories contained here are brief and disjointed in a way that fails to capture one's attention. Viewed in isolation the author is obviously good at their craft but somehow taken as a whole it's hard not to just skim over the words and realize only later that you've been reading for 20 minutes but not consumed anything the author had to say. In fact, the text blows by like a summer breeze and it makes it difficult to even formulate a coherent review. Nothing is more ample evidence of that fact than this rather incoherent bit of feedback.

Perhaps the whole thing would be better consumed in small bits over several days rather than taken all at once. The text is exceptionally tangled and complex so that generally means that one story a day is more in order. Sadly, the bits of this I did manage to catch are not interesting enough to motivate me to pursue that line of evaluation.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Format: Paperback
A wonderfully funny,ironic read that takes a broad-but subtle-back hand swipe at various pop-culture trends.
Adoption of Chinese females,Slow/Whole/Sustainable Yoga practioner gourmands and the family dynamics
thereof...all are flayed in this witty/literate collection. A bonus inclusion was the second usage of the word "aurochs"
I have ever encountered. That alone makes it worth a read.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By James J. Huberty on January 21, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This contemporary collection is funny and entertaining as it sends up some of our goofier societal excesses, and is all the more enjoyable for being well-written. While each of the stories has a different focus and theme, all share threads of interconnectedness based on time and place, which lends a kind of coherence to the collection.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again

More About the Author

Discover books, learn about writers, read author blogs, and more.