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Black Tickets: Stories Paperback – September 11, 2001
2016 Book Awards
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--Chicago Tribune Book World
"Extraordinary... Phillips shines brightly... This is a sweetheart of a book."
--John Irving, The New York Times Book Review
"[Phillips] knows how to write about the way dreams live with us... Genius is the word for her."
--The Boston Globe
From the Inside Flap
With an uncanny ability to depict the lives of men and women who rarely register in our literature, Phillips writes stories that lay bare their suffering and joy. Here are the abused and the abandoned, the violent and the passive, the impoverished and the disenfranchised who populate the small towns and rural byways of the country. A patron of the arts reserves his fondest feeling for the one man who wants it least. A stripper, the daughter of a witch, escapes from poverty into another kind of violence. A young girl during the Depression is caught between the love of her crazy father and the no less powerful love of her sorrowful mother. These are great American stories that have earned a privileged place in our literature.
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Top Customer Reviews
I went back and read "Black Tickets" again last summer and was pleasantly surprised to discover how evocative the book still is and how moving the language is. This book is a masterpiece.
In addition to the exquisitely crafted sentences, Phillips performs a rare feat: She not only writes in several distinct styles, she has mastered them all. Most stylists--authors known for their lyrical power--have a single signature way of writing. Phillips, however, displays an impressive command of vernacular, heightened prose, naturalism, and maybe one or two varieties of writing that fall somewhere in between.
While I have new admiration for stories such as "Gemcrack," I was nearly flattened by "El Paso." The imagery, the lyricism tempered by vernacular, the rhythm--as palpable as handholds in a rock face--the dialogue, and the vortical ending (forgive the neologism, but I can't think of anything else that fits) fuse seamlessly. Here's an exemplary sentence: "The light rolling now, leaked into the dark, ripples the skin of the dark and flies fly up in loose knots; low slow buzz in corners yellowed and pulled out by the light that rolls across the surfaces of things in yellow blocks." The reader sees the light as almost solid, the dark filling corners, sees the knotty flight patterns of flies, hears their lethargic buzz, and consequently feels the dusty melancholy and intimated squalor of this room.Read more ›
Feel free to disregard my review because I didn't give it a chance and finish it--I certainly would want that courtesy. Personally, though, I'm a writer and I think this says a lot about the book.
These are bottom-feeder stories-- youth without the rosy glow of hope, lackluster in faith. But despite the harrowing void in Phillips' writing, truth can be found here. These stories are full of the monsters that tear us down and that we give ourselves to as well.
The flash fiction in this collection is perhaps the most spectacular part of the book. They are quick portraits of girls and sometimes their families as in "Wedding Picture." Others take a more perilous turn as in "Under the Boardwalk," "Accidents," and "Slave." An overwhelming number of the stories are pocked with sexual deviation and marked with terror. There is something forceful about this exhumation of human depravity as if the author were excising skin and tissue and veins and clots just to show the reader the glimmer of a wet organ.
Phillips' details are mostly spot-on and daring. In one passage she compares the texture of a woman's skin to a "seeded strawberry." Phillips also has tight control of her pacing. She often writes as if cutting into the last sentence, as if the slideshow quickens and the pictures begin to move like a small home movie. However, this is not an easy collection. At times, reading her feels as if a pleasurable spot on the body is being stroked too hard, rubbed too long perhaps by even the wrong person.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Excellent, Excellent book. Longer pieces interspersed with microfictions. And many are simply astounding ... Stripper, Sweethearts, The Patron, Slave...Published 3 months ago by Kenny A. Chaffin
Not my style at all. I hate this sort of literature. It's depressing and annoying. I wish I hadn't bought it.Published on November 4, 2013 by Wendellyn
In all my years of reading I only had to close up one book and toss it into the garbage. Kindle makes it easy, I just deleted Black Tickets not quite half way through because I... Read morePublished on June 8, 2013 by Michele
I bought this for a Creative Writing seminar on story cycles. I didn't understand how this piece was a story cycle, nor did I connect on any level to anything in the book - which... Read morePublished on February 25, 2013 by rec
This product came exactly as discribed and in a timely manner. I would do bussiness again with this seller.Published on April 26, 2010 by Pamela Sandino
I love and hate these stories, but mostly..I hate them. Maybe "hate" is putting too fine a point on it. Read morePublished on December 20, 2008 by Bibliofiend
This book hasn't aged well. There is very little plot, very little dialogue, and very few verbs. (Seriously, there are stretches of five or six "sentences" in a row with nary a... Read morePublished on May 28, 2006 by teacher26
I didn't much cre for this book. It had too much sex stuff and not really any stories to follow. I thought it would be a good book, too since other well-known authors have praised... Read morePublished on December 5, 2005 by busy bee