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A Day, A Night, Another Day, Summer: Stories Hardcover – May 26, 2005

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

National Book Award nominee Schutt (Florida; Nightwork) writes with startling beauty and frustrating restraint in 11 searing stories that reveal less than they artfully decline to reveal. A young American couple living in England find themselves pulled apart by desire for others (she for an unnamed "girl"; he for no one identified) in "Young"; in "Weather Is Here, Wish You Were Beautiful," four college students experiment with drugs and grapple with messy relationships ("[I]n this way it started. She and George. Alice and George. She and Alice and George. She and Alice and George and Sam"). In "Darkest of All," a mother with a carefully maintained over-the-counter drug habit visits her troubled son in rehab; later, getting her back rubbed by her younger, less screwed-up son, she longs for the idyllic days of their youth: "Jean had lifted the wisps of hair from off their baby scalps, marked as the moon, with their stitched plates of bone yet visible, the boys; how often she had thought to break them." In "They Turn Their Bodies Into Spears," a rich octogenarian welcomes his anorexic granddaughter to his island home, witnessing in her the same sadness he saw in her absent mother. Schutt's plots can be thin, but her prose is extraordinary. (June)
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From Booklist

Schutt, a 2004 National Book Award finalist for her novel, Florida, traces the tracks of time in her second story collection, tracks leading to loneliness, illness, or simply memories of a happier past. A mother whose sons are pulling away from her, one in a rehab facility, remembers them as little boys at the beach, their hair warm and "fragrant of weeds and sea." A college student coming down from a high experiences photolike glimpses of her Mexican abortion. A woman visits her mother--"belted in her chair and slumped"--in a nursing home and struggles to conjure up some happy family memories, while her mother's memories of her own sixteenth year are surprisingly vivid. The narrator of "Winterreise" quotes Thoreau to herself as she tries to come to grips with the impending death of a lifelong friend, 56 now and alone, who has already chosen a dress and pearls for "the viewing." These 11 stories are the perfect vehicles for Schutt's blunt and unadorned style, her perceptive illumination of crystallized moments. Deborah Donovan
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 168 pages
  • Publisher: Triquarterly; 1 edition (May 26, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0810151537
  • ISBN-13: 978-0810151536
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.7 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,499,504 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Kevin Killian HALL OF FAME on August 11, 2005
Format: Hardcover
She's a little bit like Ivy Compton-Burnett in that a) some of the stories involve furiously entangled family members and b) often you have to jump into the story, in a leap of faith, to find out who is who and who is speaking the lines of dialogue you are being presented with. Sometimes Schutt seems like a writer who begrudges evidence, who hands out each clue parsimoniously like a homeowner who doesn't believe much in Halloween and short shifts the Trick or Treater.

But I believe, after reading some of her wonderful stories, that she is not ungenerous, just crafty. She knows, like Browning's Andrea Del Sarto, that often "less is more." That sometimes the best way to hook a reader's attention is to tease and provoke. And also that this minimal approach is actually a form of mimesis, that it mirrors the frustrating way we learn and apprehend things in real life, and so if it seems fanciful, it is actually a kind of social realism for our sad age.

It seems that "approach" in the last sentence is a misnomer, and I should have used whatever word is the opposite of "approach." In "Do You Think I Am Who I Will Be?" for example, I still haven't figured out why our sad sack narrator can't get any water in his apartment. Even at the end, when finally he gets enough water to fill up the rest of his glass of Scotch, I never managed to find out what had happened. Was he living in a dry state? Was he being punished in some future world in which water is rationed the way sugar used to be during World War II?

I find Schutt very moving, like Virginia Woolf, in her treatment of the women in her stories.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Luan Gaines HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on July 21, 2005
Format: Hardcover
In this striking collection, Schutt's prose is thrifty, skillful and mesmerizing, her stories riveting. The author offers a vision of the inner workings of the human psyche, her protagonists unabashedly revealing their flaws. Each story stands alone on its merits, small islands of truth, isolated incidents that make up the whole cloth. The author illustrates exactly how our days are lived out, in moments, decisions, encounters that are remembered later. In subtle and powerful language, Schutt observes the human condition, her message clear and precise.

"Darkest of All" considers the ambivalence of motherhood, small, fragrant boys grown to unpredictable young men; the mother hides her fears behind walls of her own invention; another reminds of the careless intimacies of college life ("Weather is Here, Wish You Were Beautiful"), the focus on pleasures of the moment, knowing it is only a fragment of the rest of a person's life. Yet another meditation on the intransigence of youth and the passage of time is found in "Do You Think I Am Who I Will Be?"

Life is viewed through the prism of age. In "The Human Season", a mother yearns for a visit from her son, who is a great comfort, but he will not come, refusing to bring his new girlfriend to the place where his mother resides with an abusive man, a cad who is bitter and jealous of the mother-son relationship; "The Life of the Palm and the Breast" addresses the sweet pleasures of love and family, so intensely vital that caution lingers in the air, whispering "what if"; a young woman's visit to her grandparents awakens long-forgotten memories in "They Turn Their Bodies into Spears", the quietude and adaptation of old age interrupted by the energy she brings to their home, stimulating recollections of her mother.
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By C. Schutt on June 19, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Gorgeously wrought stories about the family romance. "The Blood Jet" has been described as a song of self-abasement and has been widely praised and taught. "See Amid the Winter Snow" has been recorded, so admired is its poignant story of mother, sons, and grandmother.
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By Robert Burge on November 29, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Beautiful, haunting, poetic.
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1 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Orville B. Jenkins VINE VOICE on March 26, 2009
Format: Paperback
This is a collection of contemporary short stories. Shutt's style is fascinating and at times challenging. She writes from within the experience of each story.

Sometimes we are not certain exactly who her character is, but we are seeing with the character, thinking with the character, feeling with the character, piecing the story together as we go and missing some of the pieces. We enter in the middle sometimes and continue till the recitation ends, but the story is still not clear, not finished, uncertain.

One story is particularly poignant for me. A rather long story, portraying the experience of watching a parent lose contact with reality. "See Amid the Winter's Story" jumps from now to earlier at different stages in the mother's life or the offspring's life, placing us within the daughter's gathered memories of the mother's young life as told to the child at an earlier stage, sparked by the mother's lostness in her disconnected memories, drifting through time and memory, sometimes here, sometimes near, sometimes far away and long ago.

The pathos of the experience comes through. We never learn the identity of the adult child telling the experience, but we feel with her the strain of losing her mother even while the parent is right in front of her. We feel the grief and awkwardness of the family situation and the current challenges for children and grandchildren trying to relate to an unconnected loved one, confused, uncertain, grieving, embarrassed, yearning, but likewise rejoicing in the lucid, loving moments of recognition.

I was unfamiliar with Shutt, but this is not her first publication. She is lauded by critics for her creative style and vivid portrayals.
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