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Children Playing Before a Statue of Hercules Paperback – April 4, 2005

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; Reissue edition (April 4, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 074327394X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743273947
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.5 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (80 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #13,124 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This recording of five stories from Sedaris's longer print collection of the same name is a brief but delightful audio treat. The stories vary widely in theme and style, but each is powerfully emotive and paired with an excellent narrator. Of particular note are Cherry Jones's rendition of Patricia Highsmith's farcical "Where the Door Is Always Open and the Welcome Mat Is Out," and Parker's take on Amy Hempel's "In the Cemetery Where Al Jolson Is Buried." In the former, Jones perfectly captures the well-intentioned but ill-fated preparations of a woman who has moved to Manhattan from Ohio and is awaiting a visit from her perfectionist sister, and in the latter, Parker delivers a poignant performance of a friend's bittersweet musings on the death of her friend. Hearing Sedaris read an offbeat, deeply personal story not his own is another of this audio's many pleasures. While Sedaris has grown famous for his reading style, his earnest portrayal of youthful admiration and his spot-on characterization of a quirky substitute teacher in Charles Baxter's "Gryphon" demonstrate his range as a storyteller—and show that much more than his high pitch makes him such a distinctive voice in modern literature.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Consider the irresistible narrative arc of Sedaris' personal essays, his indelible voice, and his crisp timing, and it will come as no surprise that he is an avid, insightful reader of short stories. He is so inspired by the form that he has put together an A-list anthology of his favorites, thus creating a collection that will seduce readers heretofore resistant to the form, and induce fellow short story lovers to nod in pleased recognition. One can't go wrong with an anthology that includes Katherine Mansfield's "The Garden Party," Flannery O'Connor's "Revelation," and stories by Alice Munro, Lorrie Moore, Tobias Wolff, and Jhumpa Lahiri, let alone appearances by Dorothy Parker and Patricia Highsmith. An epilogue by Sarah Vowell explains that the proceeds from this collection will go to 826NYC, a nonprofit tutoring program designed to help students learn to write, one of a string of programs being established across the country by the creative and enterprising group at McSweeney's. Donna Seaman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

More About the Author

With sardonic wit and incisive social critiques, David Sedaris has become one of America 's pre-eminent humor writers. The great skill with which he slices through cultural euphemisms and political correctness proves that Sedaris is a master of satire and one of the most observant writers addressing the human condition today.David Sedaris is the author of the bestsellers Barrel Fever and Holidays on Ice, as well as collections of personal essays, Naked, Me Talk Pretty One Day, and Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim, each of which became immediate bestsellers. There are a total of seven million copies of his books in print and they have been translated into 25 languages. He is the editor of an anthology of stories, , Children Playing Before a Statue of Hercules: An Anthology of Outstanding Stories. His essays appear regularly in Esquire and The New Yorker. Sedaris and his sister, Amy Sedaris, have collaborated under the name "The Talent Family" and have written several plays which have been produced at La Mama, Lincoln Center , and The Drama Department in New York City . These plays include Stump the Host, Stitches, One Woman Shoe, which received an Obie Award, Incident at Cobbler's Knob, and The Book of Liz, which was published in book form by Dramatist's Play Service. His recent collection of essays, titled When You Are Engulfed in Flames, was published in June 2008.David Sedaris's original radio pieces can often be heard on This American Life, distributed nationally by Public Radio International and produced by WBEZ. In 2001, David Sedaris became the third recipient of the Thurber Prize for American Humor. He was named by Time magazine as "Humorist of the Year" in 2001. David Sedaris was nominated for two Grammy Awards for Best Spoken Word Album ("Dress Your Family in Corduroy & Denim") and Best Comedy Album ("David Sedaris: Live at Carnegie Hall"). In 2008 the audio version of When You Are Engulfed in Flames was nominated for a Grammy in the Best Spoken Word category.

Customer Reviews

Great collection of short stories.
Kimberly Collins
I suppose I just had confused expectations: I wanted something that was modern, story-driven with themes attached much like Sedaris tells his stories.
P. Barrett Coleman
Great read,I highly recommend this if you are a Sedaris fan.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

49 of 49 people found the following review helpful By Rebecca M on March 2, 2006
Format: Paperback
This is a compilation of David Sedaris' favorite short stories by literary greats such as Alice Munro, Flannery O'Connor and Dororthy Parker, just to name a few. With a crowd like this, you can expect stories that will leave you ever so slightly unsettled, such as Tobias Wolff's "Bullet in the Brain" and Lorrie Moore's troubling tromp through a pediatric cancer ward in "People Like That Are the Only People Here: Canonical Babbling in Peed Onk." The stories seem to gather eccentric value as the book progresses. They are provocative and probably not best read right before bed. But Sedaris has indeed gathered the best of the best, and each of the stories represents an intricate piece of literary art.

But there is another reason to buy this book. All the proceeds benefit 826NYC, an afterschool tutoring organization that also does community outreach by way of writing workshops for young people. Literature to help foster literature-it is a great idea and one worthy of support.
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79 of 86 people found the following review helpful By Robert Sheard on April 26, 2005
Format: Paperback
In all my years of reading serious fiction, I've neglected short stories. But when I saw Sedaris's name, I was willing to read his introduction to see if I wanted to delve further in this collection of stories by other writers, and I'm thrilled that I did.

Of all the stories in the collection, I had only read one before-Flannery O'Connor's "Revelation"-so this collection opened up a number of new writers to me that I'll pursue further: Jincy Willett, Jhumpa Lahiri, and Richard Yates, for example.

Sedaris does a good job of balancing heavily emotional rides, like Joyce Carol Oates's "The Girl with the Blackened Eye," with the humor of Jincy Willett's "The Best of Betty." He's also done a terrific job of blending classic stories with contemporary ones.

After reading this collection, I'm actually looking forward to reading more short fiction.
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81 of 89 people found the following review helpful By Saradele on August 28, 2005
Format: Paperback
Devoted David Sedaris fans will notice that some of the themes in these stories echo his own essays - dysfunctional family dynamics, everyday moments between lovers, utter dislocation. However, don't expect this book to provide as much of the laugh-out-loud humor found in Sedaris's own writing. Even when funny, these stories have grotesque twists dealing with untimely death, illness, and insanity. Consider in advance whether you enjoy truly dark humor.

If on the fence about buying this book, keep in mind that its proceeds go toward a literacy initiative for kids in NYC.
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Ed Uyeshima HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on April 27, 2005
Format: Paperback
The next best thing to a new David Sedaris book is a collection of his favorite short stories since they reflect aspects of his character that may not be readily apparent in his often darkly humorous remembrances. He has chosen seventeen diverse stories by both modern and legendary writers, and the net effect is a microcosm of emotions unexpected, sometimes funny (as you would expect) and often poignant. I like how Sedaris in the foreword reverses the perspective you would expect him to have and settles into being a reader like the rest of us. What he does contribute is a strong sense of himself in the presence of these stories by simply liking them enough to include them.

Being such a fan of his work and being able to relate to a lot of the quandaries he faces in his life, I immediately felt a kinship with many of the authors some of whom I am already familiar. For example, Alice Munro who captured a particularly universal perspective in her recent short story collection about women in transition, "Runaway", has a surprisingly amusing contribution with "Half a Grapefruit" about an insecure girl named Rose who is rebelling against the concept of you are what you eat. Or Jhumpa Lahiri, who won a well-earned Pulitzer Prize for her own anthology "Interpreter of Maladies", of which Sedaris has wisely chosen the title story about the delicate relationship between an insightful Indian interpreter and a bickering Indian-American couple visiting India. Both focus on identity crises in vastly different settings. I certainly am familiar with Dorothy Parker but not with her wonderfully brief and evocative story, "Song of the Shirt, 1941" about a WWII-era seamstress under duress.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Kristin W. on July 8, 2005
Format: Paperback
In his introduction, David Sedaris says he hopes this collection will entice readers to seek out more of the work by the writers included. I think he reaches his goal. This collection is a jewelry box of stories, each one a gem. I'm looking forward to reading it over and over, because these are the kind of stories from which you can learn something new every time.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Dr. B on May 22, 2005
Format: Paperback
Its so rare to find a compilation of short stories where every one is a delight! The stories are a satisfying mix of old and new, funny, joyful and sad. All of which I found very satisfying. I admit I did cry during a couple, and I don't think it was all hormones. I wish I'd had this caliber of story to read in my English classes. This was also a nice way to be cordially introduced to some new authors to explore. And I admit, as a major David Sedaris fan, there's that little fake intimate thrill of 'Ooooo HE picked these out!'

And anyway, it makes a really good gift because even if the person dosen't like it, they won't return it because the purchase value benefits a great cause.
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