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Family Dancing Paperback – November 14, 1997


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 205 pages
  • Publisher: Mariner Books; First Edition edition (November 14, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0395877326
  • ISBN-13: 978-0395877326
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 0.6 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.5 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,462,613 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"Astonishing -- funny, eloquent, and wise." (The New York Times)

About the Author

David Leavitt's first collection of stories, Family Dancing, was published when he was just twenty-three and was a finalist for both the National Book Critics Circle Award and the PEN/Faulkner Prize. The Lost Language of Cranes was made into a BBC film, and While England Sleeps was short-listed for the Los Angeles Times Fiction Prize. With Mark Mitchell, he coedited The Penguin Book of Short Stories, Pages Passed from Hand to Hand, and cowrote Italian Pleasures. Leavitt is a recipient of fellowships from both the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts. He divides his time between Italy and Florida.

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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By lazza on December 22, 2002
Format: Paperback
'Family Dancing' is a collection of short stories written by David Leavitt when he was in his early twenties. It is remarkable thata young man can write with such sensitivity. The prose is very fluid, and the characterizations are quite realistic. Quite remarkable considering these are *short* stories, not novels. However these stories are somewhat uneven in their overall quality, and I think I know why.
David Leavitt is best known for writing gay fiction. In 'Family Dancing' about a third of the stories are gay-themed. But I find the gay characters in these stories, and even in his fine novel 'The Lost Language of Cranes', to be very two-dimensional. However Leavitt's observations of parents coping with dysfunctional lives, marriages, and children to be most affecting. In 'Family Dancing' there are a couple of simply wonderful, extremely moving stories about people living with cancer. These stories alone are worth the price of this book.
Bottom line: a mixed bag containing treasures. Recommended.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 7, 1996
Format: Paperback
LIFE IN LEAVITT-TOWN
In "The Lost Cottage," one of the stories in David Leavitt's
debut collection, Family Dancing, the son of divorced parents
dreams up names for the family's summer house: "Desperate
Efforts," he thinks, or "Under the Weather." The names which
he lists are just as appropriate as nicknames for the various
men who people Leavitt's stories: the travelling Mr. Campbell
of one story is "Seldom Inn"; the faithless Herb of another
story experiences several "Weak Moments"; and there is the
pathetic Allen who is "Beyond Hope." All the fathes in
Leavitt's stories are weak men, and they have all disappointed
or betrayed the other members of their families.
Because of the shortcomings of the menfolk, there is
not one successful marriage in these stories and there are
many victims of the broken homes. In Leavitt-town, we meet
fat, shy daughters and gaunt homosexual sons; we see marriages
which are dead or dying; we watch parents who feel varying
degrees of guilt, and children who experience differing
amounts of anxiety. These tales show us that in order to
have healthy children, one needs a stable home. There are
so many threats to the home, both medical (many characters
suffer from cancer) and emotional, that the children wind up
as experience-devouring narcissists. Ironicially, in many
stories it is the emotional force which splinters the family
that acts to hold some semblance of a family together. Disappointment,
anger, and jealousy are, after all, combinations of love and hate.
The writing in Family Dancing is brilliant throughout.
Read more ›
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By F. Averick on July 24, 2009
Format: Paperback
I was around 24 when I first read this amazing collection of stories and I was totally bowled over by it. On the surface was an identification--with both the young gay men who populated several of the stories, as well as with Leavitt himself, who was around the same age I was--but, I was also in love with his prose and empathy with all sorts of characters: straight and gay, young and old.

The first story, "Territory," (about a young man bringing his first boyfriend home to meet his mom) was the first "gay" short story published in The New Yorker magazine (when Leavitt himself was only 21) and I remember reading it over and over again, amazed at the seemingly simple story which covered so much emotional terrain.

It was the last story in the book, "Dedicated," which was the one that probably had the most affect on me though--as it was so much a story I wish I'd written. Telling the tale of 3 friends (Nathan, Celia and Andrew...characters Leavitt would visit twice more in the future, and, hopefully, will again some day) over the course of a weekend in the Hamptons. It's a story about love, friendship, jealousy, sex, desire, parents and children.

Leavitt went on to write other short stories and novels and non-fiction on numerous topics--and, probably, he's technically a better writer now than when he wrote these stories. And though I've enjoyed many of them, I'll likely always love this book (and his next one--the novel "The Lost Language of Cranes") more than anything else he'll ever write.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By michaelmouse1 on April 11, 2012
Format: Paperback
Like a fine water colour painting, this collection of poignant vignettes of family life takes the reader to the edge of its characters stories, lets them dip their toe in and moves on to the next part of the journey, leaving them wanting to wade deeper. It is beautifully simplistic writing that sketches each story with a depth that belies the length of each one. In a matter of pages, Leavitt makes you feel a part of the lives of his characters and you feel a little cheated that you must rush on to the next platform before his train departs , but with each new story you quickly forget that you wanted so much to stay because this new place has its own wonders.
The opening story, "Territory", in 24 pages, depicts the unspoken and unfathomable distance between a mother and her Gay son so perfectly you feel you could put the book down right there and would have gotten your monies worth.
This is perfect, brush-stroke writing that breaks into your heart and stays there.
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