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on April 19, 2004
The Complete Short Prose 1929-1989 is one of the great books to appear in the last ten years. I grew up reading parts in anthology and thin Grove Press editions. At last many of these sparse texts parading around as novels have come together under one cover. Stories like "First Love" and "The End" are among Beckett's strongest works, and "Texts for Nothing" are extremely complex and perhaps the most moving monolgues I know, for they often bring tears to my eyes. Beautiful stuff! You need some sort of literary standard other than Dave Eggers or Cormac McCarthy: I'll take Beckett any day!
Beckett had a big influence on European writing, but his influence is almost invisible on American letters. Sometimes you hear about writers being influenced by Kundera, Borges, or Kafka, but Beckett has eluded the art of writing here, with the exception of play writing. That's unfortunate, because his trilogy of novels and much of his short texts are some of the most intense, beautiful writing in the past half-century. Edward Dahlberg often talked about this sort of great writing: "It was to take me many years to realize that one has to be very lucky to write one intelligence sentence."
After reading the definitive introduction by the writer S. E. Gontarski, I am convinced that Beckett is the creator of "Spoken Word." Take that to the bank! In works such as "Fizzles" and "The Lost Ones" Beckett modulates a disembodied voice that is stripped away of all mimesis, yet it is the same interior voice that permeates all his fiction. Haunting, profound, chilling. I can think of no equal to Beckett's prose writing, except maybe Dahlberg himself. Only if today's hack writing was half as good as Beckett and Dahlberg....
People should read The Complete Short Prose and Three Novels like they read the Bible. Do it now! I know why these books are worth reading! As Dahlberg once said, "What need had I of the sour pedants of humid syntax, or of courses in pedagogy, canonized illiteracy. I saw that anybody who had read twelve good books knew more than a doctor of philosophy." Nevermind these fads, these 20 under 40, and so on. Nevermind.
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on March 21, 1998
Essential for anyone interested in 20th century prose. Complements the holes in language the novels & plays sought to expose. Beckett knew everything there is to know about form. These shorts move between poetry and prose. See especially the series "First Love", "The Expelled", "The Calmative", "The End"- the bridge from Watt to Molloy. The blackened page of Beckett's paragraph-less mummur is not for everyone, but once you hear his rhythm, it is not easily forgotten.
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on September 22, 1999
While Beckett's works certainly contain their share of angst, there is more to his work than that, as this collection reminds us. The last work in this collection is a nonfiction essay that Beckett wrote for Irish radio just after World War II called "The Capital of the Ruins." Beckett's subject was a field hospital in the French town of St. Lo that Irish citizens had helped to staff (and where he himself had worked as an interpreter). While the prose is unmistakably Beckett (particularly the self-deprecating humor--at one point he refers to the essay as a "circumlocution"), the optimism of trying to convince his people that they had helped their fellow human beings survive a terrible war more easily is not what we expect from him. Also typical is a wonderful Biblical allusion to the Book of Isaiah and its great swords-and-plowshares metaphor, which he cleverly adapts to modern times. There is a lot of wonderful fiction in this volume (my favorite is "The Cliff," a short meditation, possibly on a preserved skull), but the non-fiction is not to be neglected, and reveals a side of this writer not often seen or considered.
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on November 30, 2006
The great thing about this collection, aside from seeing Beckett work his wonders on the short form--something for which he is underappreciated--is seeing him evolve as a writer over the years. I loved the way you could trace his investment, or lack thereof, in plot and the standard niceties of "story" over the course of the book. He is a master, truly, and one should take time to appreciate his shorter and lesser known works. Much joy waits therein.
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on January 24, 2008
This book brings together what is the lesser-known short prose of Samuel Beckett--a surprisingly small output for so long-lived and otherwise so prolific an author. From his first published story to his last gnomic writings, this collection of texts provides a kind of comprehensive chronicle of Beckett's developmental arc as a writer beginning with the surprisingly conventional *Assumption.*

These texts showcase Beckett both at his most human and his most "inhuman." His characteristic slapstick black humor is in full play through about half the book, but from *Texts for Nothing*--which strike me as a stunningly personal testament of depression and isolation just this side of the grave short of suicide--to the final *Stirrings Still* the writing takes on the terse impersonality of stage direction, which I can't help but think would be far more effective--and interesting--taken dramatized ((indeed as many of these texts have been staged)) than they are to read. Obsessively precise descriptions of nameless mute bodies standing, sitting, lying, etc. is interesting experimentally but eventually becomes mind-numbing on the page. These last texts of Beckett, leached and bleached of everything that heretofore one loved about and associated with Beckett, including Beckett himself, leaves one with the eerie sensation of having entered a room whose occupant has long since vanished. What one is watching in effect is Beckett's suicide--or self-erasure--in prose and if one takes the later writing in that context it is both a chilling testament to the human condition and the grimly logical "end game" indicated by all of his earlier work. Man is subtracted little by little until he's simply not there anymore--that seems to be the message of the ever diminishing momentum and presence of personality of Beckett's oeuvre as illustrated in *The Complete Short Prose.* It is, however, with regard to the final texts in this volume, far more rewarding to contemplate these existential suicide notes from a philosophical point of view than it is embodied in the form of prose.

Without question an important and rewarding book, *The Complete Short Prose of Samuel Beckett* is explanation itself why Beckett's short fiction is not as well-known or well-loved as his novels and plays. As a record, though, a sort of autobiography in fiction it can't be beat as a way to understanding the painfully compelling work of the last--and final?--true giant of world literature.
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on June 7, 2013
Samuel Beckett is a one-of-a-kind writer. Either you get him, or you don't, and then you like his style, or you don't. Myself-- often times I don't get him, as his prose is scattered, which makes it interesting, but I really enjoy him. He has an interesting way of juxtaposing words and organizing his thoughts.

This is the first book of short stories I have read by Samuel Beckett, and I look forward to reading more in the future. Recommended.

My favorite Beckett quote: "If the first time you fail, try again. Fail again. Fail Better."
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on January 1, 2011
Well, Beckett is dense, difficult, seems pointless, aimless at times, with no story to his stories, sometimes even no characters, just floating voices or heads. He reverses, refuses, disappoints all of our expectations as readers, but I keep coming back to him. There is no one else.
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on April 22, 2013
Beckett is one of the greatest writers in the twentieth century especially his plays such as Waiting for Godot an novels such as the Unnamable
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on August 12, 2014
must have - quik shippin
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on September 29, 2015
rambling, almost stream of consciousness no special traits or accomplishments of characters
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