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In Strange Gardens and Other Stories Paperback – April 12, 2011

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The grim novel Unformed Landscape by the Swiss-German author Stamm was set in a blank, chilly Northern Europe; this collection of 20 stories features an ill-fitting assortment of emotionally shallow characters moving through similarly textureless locales. The stories chronicle pointless intersections between strangers in Manhattan, or odd, inexplicable entanglements among campers or vacationers to Italy or passengers on a train. The young Finnish woman, Lotta, who rents her West Village apartment to the visiting German narrator in "Flotsam," is typically enigmatic: Lotta sleeps most of the time, and on a weekend trip to the seashore with the narrator and his friends, she eventually wanders off with one of the men, moving through life in reaction to the will and aims of others. The stories are narrated with clinical detachment, and are often hauntingly impressionistic, as in "Black Ice," set in a TB hospital ward of an unnamed industrial city, where the narrator, a journalist, seeks out a terminally ill patient to interview over the course of several days. Larissa, a young married woman from Kazakhstan, no longer has visitors and little to engage her beside the TV, and yet to the unmovable narrator (more emotionally dead than she is) she notes, "Desire never stops." Stamm derives his narrative power from absence and void. (Apr.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Review

Kirkus Review

Most of the individuals in these austerely written stories by Swiss novelist Stamm (Unformed Landscape, 2005, etc.) lead humdrum but desperate lives...While Stamm doesn't discount the possibility of happiness and comradeship, there is invariably an ounce of joy for every pound of gloom.


Bookforum

“Stamm’s cool, observational style often lends the impression that he is passing through his stories, witnessing the unfolding of events from the window as he goes by. Something of the peculiar dynamic among passengers—safeguarding their anonymity in the proximity of strangers, impinging imperceptibly on one another’s lives, sharing an elusive intimacy that is intrinsically disconnected—seeps into the relationships of his characters. Finally, his unique sense of place corresponds to what he calls the ‘empty, timeless space of train travel,’ the sensation of inhabiting a transitory nowhere. His characters dwell in this negative space, out of place in the ‘strange gardens’ in which they find themselves. Using them as receptors of the word, Stamm registers restlessness and unease, irresolution, glimpses of the void….With artful understatement, Stamm conveys the mutability of experience, a phenomenon as inscrutable as variations in the weather."

Seattle Times

Wingate Packard
These particular stories leap off the page, a pleasant surprise ....

ABC Magazine

...short story collections [that] particularly impressed me: Peter Stamm's In Strange Gardens and Other Stories...Stamm is Swiss, and writes in German. His stories seem very cool, but it's the kind of cool that burns. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 249 pages
  • Publisher: Other Press; Reprint edition (April 12, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 159051498X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1590514986
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.5 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,619,770 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

By Patrizia on February 5, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Peter Stamm writes well with spare prose. The stories are good, slightly mysterious and perceptive of human character.
Thoroughly recommended.
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