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Four Decades: New and Selected Stories Paperback – June 2, 1997

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: University of Missouri (June 2, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0826211135
  • ISBN-13: 978-0826211132
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.3 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,949,945 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews Review

A prolific, prize-winning author of seven short story collections, Gordon Weaver offers a new collection that culls a dozen pieces from four decades of distinguished writing. From sharply observed details, you can wring the characteristic poignancy from Weaver's writing. In "Getting Serious," the narrator recollects his youth and the celebration of a golden boy's return from the Army on a summery lake shore. Weaver renders the objects, the nonsequiturs, the cigarette smoke, and the drinking lovingly, as if to give us the tiniest, most seductive peek at the underlying truth of the story. But "these are not living details for me," the narrator says. "Rather, after thirty years, it is a kind of tableau, a group of people frozen in my memory like statues, like a memorial to the people, the place, the world war. I can look at it whenever I wish, but it does not live for me." Such an oblique approach to the story's central action makes you curious and compels you to read on. And read on you will.

Alcohol figures prominently in these stories. As it tangles with characters, wedding disappointment and disillusionment, dulling mind and senses, you realize that these authentic characters will never face the music. Youth's promise gives way to sodden regrets and enervated dreams. However, we're fortunate indeed to have this dark, often tender, and always keenly crafted retrospective.

From Booklist

These 12 stories, spanning the mid-1960s to the present, adeptly challenge the simple voluntarist view and normative status of middle-class life and dramatize characters whose families and successful careers have been made and unmade (or at least threatened) by what appears to them (or those around them) as an inexplicable, arbitrary fate. In "Whiskey, Whiskey, Gin, Gin, Gin," the protagonist retreats inward, claiming, over his therapist's protestations, that pure, clear vodka provides him with pure, clear vision, albeit one that cannot possibly be understood by anyone else. In "Getting Serious and Madness," the protagonists return to the haunts of their youth and significant old friends, in search of lost possibilities and the mystery that has divided them from that past and those friends; divided them, for example, into madness--how can it happen?--and sanity. In some stories, however, Weaver gives the break from middle-class life a more positive, purposeful turn, driven by a vision of alternative social possibilities, of a sort many of the bleaker protagonists in the other stories cannot fathom. Jim O'Laughlin

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Hugh Pickens on July 2, 2000
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I have been an admirer of Gordon Weaver's short stories since I read "Getting Serious" (winner of the Best American Short Story in 1980 and included in this collection) twenty years ago. I won't say that it is the "best" short story I ever read - but I will say that it is one of the few that I have come back to again and again because of the way it speaks to me about life, loss and memory - the way each of us "fictionalizes" our past to make sense of it and how the dreams and aspirations of our youth collide with the realities of middle age. I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to meet with Mr. Weaver in 1992 in Stillwater, OK before he retired from his english professorship and tell him how important his work had been. Highly recommended.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I bought this book because of the iconic story "The Return of the Boyceville Flash," which I presented in a short story workshop as an example of a piece of short fiction as finely wrought as a piece of furniture made by a master carpenter. The students learned so much from it, and I'm going on to read the other stories.
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