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If a Stranger Approaches You: Stories Paperback – March 5, 2013


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 184 pages
  • Publisher: Sarabande Books (March 5, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1936747499
  • ISBN-13: 978-1936747498
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.4 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #115,196 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Kasischke’s collection of stories, many previously published in literary magazines, spans the gamut between whip-thin and abstract to novella-length and aching, filled in between with the strange and unexpected and sometimes extraordinary. Opening with an eerie bang,“Mona” begins as a seemingly mild exercise in depicting a mother-daughter relationship and ends with the sort of creeped-out reaction one might have at a particularly disturbing horror flick. “Somebody’s Mistress, Somebody’s Wife” seems like a relatively benign telling of an ended love affair until the plot takes a decidedly bizarre turn. In the breath-catchingly cruel “You’re Going to Die,” a family relationship is corralled in just a few devastating word choices. “If a Stranger Approaches You about Carrying a Foreign Object with You onto the Plane” supposes a plausible event, interjects a chance happening that pushes the plot trajectory off course, then serves a dangling ending left to the reader to pick up. The stories are all connected by their disconnection and dissonance, and the unsettling yet ultimately arresting mash-up of styles defies simple definition. --Julie Trevelyan

Review

“Highly acclaimed poet and novelist Kasischke’s first collection is a surreal, sometimes shocking, often humorous journey to the dark side of American domestic life…. This collection of intelligently crafted stories will satisfy Kasischke fans and short story lovers alike. Highly recommended.”
—Starred Review, Library Journal

"In Kasischke's moody first collection of stories (after eight novels and eight poetry collections, including the NBCC Award-winning Space in Chains), characters are ill equipped to handle anger and fear, and they find their old refuges lacking.... The disruption of families and neighborhoods is a particular theme, with the real-life dangers of poverty and foreclosure intertwining with unreal details and true-crime plots.... Noxious, unforgettable narrative.... A slim but winning collection."
--Publishers Weekly

"Laura Kasischke's first collection of stories, If a Stranger Approaches You, describes a world haunted, not by the undead, but by the phantoms of unemployment, increased airport security and missed credit card payments. The signature confluence between realism and the uncanny found in much of Kasischke's writing, both as poet and novelist, makes this book an important addition to her own body of work and to the contemporary literature of end times…. Not even the unspeakable escapes Kasischke's eye."
--NPR Books

"Throughout her alarming and gorgeous collection of 15 short stories, If a Stranger Approaches You, Kasischke artfully plays with the line that divides private fantasy from public acts."
--Boston Globe

"In Kasischke's book, unsettling encounters occur in both familiar places--airports, suburban neighborhoods--and in surreal locations. In "Our Father," children camouflage their father in gray rags on a gray couch in case "Officials" look for him during "the War." But what war? Where? The many successful stories.... are masterfully told... Though unsettling, this debut story collection makes gripping reading."
--Minneapolis Star Tribune

More About the Author

Laura Kasischke teaches in the University of Michigan MFA program and the Residential College. She has published seven collections of poetry and seven novels. She lives with her family in Chelsea, Michigan.

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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Each story with it's own twisted ending.
Dog Brindle
You can hear Laura as poet in a handful of stories that are so short that they read much like prose poems.
John Allen
The writing style is great and makes the reading fun.
Amazon Customer

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on May 9, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Short stories so bizarre that sometimes when you finish one you have to sit there and think, "What just happened here?" but I think that's the point of her stories. The writing style is great and makes the reading fun.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Dog Brindle on July 2, 2013
Format: Paperback
written by Laura Kasischke
Her first collection of fifteen short stories.
The title of the book:

If A Stranger Approaches You

The title of the last story in the book.

I don't think you can get any better than this. Each story well written in an easy to read, style. Rivoting! Each story with it's own twisted ending. Each story leaving you miffed, bewildered, surprised! Each story unique. Of life's little fleeting moments.

Laura gets to the meat of her subject, quickly! Makes her surprise known. Then lets the stories end. No dilly-dallying. No frills. Exactly what you want, and all you need.

These fifteen stories have the ability to stir emotions. You feel the empathy, the love, the sorrows as if they were your own. Once you read the first story, Mona you'll understand what I mean.

What is this? I had to read the next story, Memmorial right away. "Weird!"

I couldn't put it down, after that!

I don't mean weird in a scary way. More, thought provoking. More, psycho dramatic. More Alfred Hitchcock'ish than Hitchcock himself.

I give it five stars out of five *****

You won't be disappointed.

Michael Estey
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By John Allen on March 26, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Before reading Laura Kasischke's new collection of short stories, If a Stranger Approaches You, I read her latest book of poetry, Space, In Chains, winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award. Her poems are skillfully crafted in terms of both language and narrative. Laura powerfully uses the sound and rhythm of language to penetrate deeply into the complexities of human experience, but not in a cold, abstract, preachy, or purely intellectualized way. What makes her writing so compelling for me is her sharp eye for the subtle, dark, and intimate things that make us feel more deeply, the ones that connect us to each other and the world in ways that matter most in the long run.

Laura brings that same artistry to her short stories. You can hear Laura as poet in a handful of stories that are so short that they read much like prose poems. What I enjoyed most, though, is how Laura's poetic voice shapes the much longer stories, how it deepens their rhythms, details, and emotional narratives. If you like the writing of Carver, Cheever, Boyle, Munro, and Nelson, then you'll feel right at home with Laura's engaging stories.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Cathryn Grant on August 20, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Amazing. Although some stories were a bit surreal for my taste, Mona, Melody, I Hope This is Hell, and If a Stranger Approaches You about Carrying a Foreign Object with You onto the Plane, were brilliant. The title story was beyond chilling, and the writing throughout was exquisite.
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Format: Kindle Edition
This book was filled with several short stories that hit you in the gut, heart or mind. The majority of them were rather good. They are not straight forth stories but ones that left some to your imagination and let your own attitudes, mind and heart finish. They are not happy, a glad perfect ending as life itself doesn’t always have the scripted endings we desire. The author reached out and pulled you into several separate little worlds with issues all their own and some will remind you of yourself in a certain point in time, or someone close to you. I personally love short stories, ones you can easily finish over lunch or waiting for someone or something. Some stories are better than others but over all a stirring read.
I bought this book via Amazon and am excited to add it to my personal library.
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