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Ladies and Gentlemen Hardcover – Deckle Edge, June 28, 2011


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf; First Edition edition (June 28, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780307270719
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307270719
  • ASIN: 0307270718
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 6.1 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,772,766 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Amazon Best Books of the Month, July 2011: "Boys can't stay mad at each other about girls for too long. That's a job for men." Adam Ross's new collection of short stories, Ladies and Gentlemen, is filled with moments of such prickly poignancy, headshaking disbelief, and melancholic side glances. Ross, the author of last year's Mr. Peanut, has nearly perfected this thoughtful style of prose with a punch. The title story, about a woman contemplating an affair with a college crush, has an air of overwrought introspection, but ends with a surprisingly heartening notion of marriage. "Futures" follows a downtrodden middle-aged man as he searches for a job and mentors a young neighbor in whom he sees a younger version of himself, ending in a horrifying, if hilarious, job interview. In "When in Rome," a story of two brothers--one perfect, one not so much--Ross describes the vast expanse that can exist between siblings, as "a birthright that's as strong and arbitrary and ineluctable as love," and one realizes that this could illustrate Ross's feelings on life itself: "Because we feel we must honor this accident of our relatedness, we try to swim against it again and again." Each story a completely singular vignette, Ladies and Gentlemen is a darkly pleasurable read. --Alexandra Foster

Review

“Ross studies families and couples in volatile combinations . . . Punches are thrown between brothers, wild dogs go on the attack, and someone gets pistol-whipped. Conversations lead out of the polite shallows into confrontation . . . For both the married and the divorced in [these] seven stories, full of reversals and surprise endings, potential catastrophe is always closer than you think.” —Brian Miller, Seattle Weekly
 
“Riveting and affecting—the work of an author who has the rare ability to mesmerize and move us . . . Suspenseful, humorous and, at times, noirish, [Ross] crafts smooth sentences and can make you laugh out loud without ever undermining or selling out the poignancy of his stories . . . Irresistible.” —Skip Horack, San Francisco Chronicle
 
“Masterfully constructed . . . Skillful but never showy, [Ross’s] highly polished, somewhat spare prose . . . gives these stories a beauty and clarity that are strangely at odds with [their] grim vision . . . Ladies and Gentlemen is a book that bears, even demands, rereading.” —Maria Browning, Chapter 16

“Traditional stories, written in precise and plainspoken prose . . . What makes them electrifying is the author’s knack for luring his characters into emotional danger . . . Ross may yet rehabilitate the term ‘literary thriller.’” —Steve Almond, The Boston Globe
 
“Irresistible . . . Ross’ stories, entertaining and even slick on the surface, have troubling undercurrents that drag the reader out into uncharted waters . . . [they] take hold early and don’t let go: it’s almost impossible to start reading them and not need to finish.” —Margaret Quamme, The Columbus Dispatch
 
“Dazzling and brutal . . . a joy-ride through [Ross’s] dark but sparkling imagination . . . .[He is] as skilled at telling as he is at showing [the] frightening but relatable machinations of jealousy, laugh-out-loud bouts of gore, and the emotional elasticity that comes from isolation or the absence of love . . . He is a ruminative writer with an arsenal of explosives always at the ready.” —Liz Colville, The Daily
 
“Old-fashioned, almost O. Henryesque tales that point up Mr. Ross’s extraordinary gifts as a writer . . . Not only does [he] possess glittering powers of description and a heat-seeking eye for emotional and physical detail, but he’s also able to capture the way people talk today with fluency and panache [and] is adept at showing the day-to-day stresses and consolations of marriage and mapping the mutations of love over time.” —Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times
 
“Truly funny, original, acerbic [and] surprising . . . Ross deftly dissects how our best efforts to establish intimacy or better ourselves in the economy can result in excruciating, if hilarious, humiliations.  Amusing morality at its compulsive, can’t-wait-to-pick-it-up-again best.” —Sheila Anne Feeney, AM New York
 
“Bitingly funny . . . Ross limns the ills of contemporary Americans, so vividly rendering their problems and anxieties that the effect is unnerving and heartbreaking . . . It is the precision of [his] dark and dazzling prose, often laced with a touch of the surreal, that generates the stories’ intensity and makes them so disquieting.” —Joanne Wilkinson, Booklist
 
“Following his dazzling debut, Ross drops seven more doses of disquieting fears and misleading hopes [in] this fierce collection . . . One of Ross’ great strengths is walking that eternally fine line between showing the reader things and the heartbeat monitoring of a character’s internal life . . . These characters are either untethered by their own vividness or weighed down with all the trouble in the world. In either case, it’s impossible to look away.” —Kirkus Reviews, starred
 
“A superb book. These stories are packed with exquisite characters, their lives swollen with the past and bursting in the present. Tales about neighbors and desire, about college hijinx and brotherly rivalry, about old flames and new ones— this collection is masterfully written, gripping, unforgettable.” —Tom Rachman

Customer Reviews

Mostly, it seems like the author decides "Well, that story is long enough. Done!"
I. Zawilski
Mr. Ross's clever dialogue and powerfully descriptive narrative immediately draws you into each tale and keeps you engaged throughout.
Leif E.
Read and loved "Mr. Peanut," and this follow-up collection of short stories did not disappoint.
Anastasia Beaverhausen

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

20 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Leif E. on July 1, 2011
Format: Hardcover
I liked Adam Ross's debut novel, Mr. Peanut. I thought it was brilliant. I read. I re-read. I stopped to consider what I had just read. I discussed with others. I returned to step #1. It was invigorating to deconstruct the vivid, but complex, tapestry that Mr. Ross had woven. Like an advanced English Lit class - it made me work. But occasionally I wished I had the Cliffs Notes, if only because I felt I had not fully absorbed all that the story offered. That, in part, is why I loved Mr. Ross's encore performance so much, and consumed it so quickly.

Ladies and Gentlemen is a unique collection of self contained stories that are as entertaining as they are enlightening. None of the traits that made Mr. Peanut such a success are lost. Mr. Ross's clever dialogue and powerfully descriptive narrative immediately draws you into each tale and keeps you engaged throughout. The characters are richly developed, relatable and compelling. The stories are unique and captivating. This time, however, digesting Mr. Ross's remarkable insights into the complexities of human relationships felt a bit more like taking my medicine by coating it in, well... peanut butter. I could focus on the conscience shaking perceptions embeded within the center of each story, or I could just lick my lips and enjoy the peanuty goodness.

As each story is crisp and complete, it is hard to comment on the plots, beyond what is included in the dust jacket vignettes, without spoiling the experience for the next reader. I've read a few of the published reviews that tried. Each, in its own way, revealed too much. Suffice it to say that like any good collection of short stories, each tale stands on its own and the subject matter - which is really the characters that Mr. Ross is so adept at developing - evokes an emotional response that is both satisfying and unsettling.

Throw it in your beach bag and enjoy. It is an easy read that will not disappoint.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Mr. August VINE VOICE on September 30, 2011
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I believe short stories of quality are difficult to write and sometimes complicated to interpret. Their composition demands perfect settings and more precise character development than a novel. Adam Ross' stories remind me of English classes when an instructor or professor could spend at least five class days working through the analysis of a distinguished short story. Ladies and Gentleman took me back to those days when short story writing was a miraculous craft of developing characters and plot that culminate with a moral or an O'Henry- type twist. The impact of these stories is priceless.

Mr. Ross has an uncanny ability to capture relationships at the pinnacles of stress. From the perspective of male narrators, the stories are disheartening as he tells us that people whether they are married, single, parents, or siblings, will do whatever they have to do to stage-manage and destabilize others for their own tenacious desires.

In "Futures" the middle-aged loser is characterized with such cruelty, it became absurd. Not only was he the subject of a scam as he desperately searched for a job, he was robbed when he unselfishly helped his neighbor's son. The outcome was grim, to say the least. In other story, "When in Rome," two siblings have a sick relationship which ends in a horrid twist depicting the intensity of sibling hatred. The "Middleman" encompasses many destructive ends, with the hard working male again the loser. Many of the narratives involved females who were ruthless or incapable of any empathy. "The Suicide Room" is a composite of horrific deaths.

Most of Mr. Ross' characters are liars and they can manipulate the tale to suit their fancy. He can write about offensive incidents with a story of massacres or deception allowing individuals to present themselves in the version of their choice. Talk about poetic license!

Adam Ross is truly a gifted writer. His stories could be analyzed and dissected on many levels.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By bookmagic VINE VOICE on October 8, 2011
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
These short stories by Adam Ross may not appeal to everyone. Most of them are dark and sad. The first one broke my heart but I can't say why without spoilers. But if you can get past the darkness, they are an interesting look at singular events in the lives of different people. A lonely professor who wants to make his mark in the world but has a tendency to play it safe, a young couple comparing their own relationship to another's and thinking things aren't as bad as they thought, two brothers who have always been at odds and one trying to get the upper hand.
Ross is an amazing, insightful writer. You may not love the characters or the choices they make but they will leave an impact on you. I'm looking forward to reading Mr. Peanut, a book I never got to last year, but now I want to see what Ross can do in a novel.
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By K. Hill VINE VOICE on January 16, 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Ladies and Gentlemen is comprised of seven stories: Futures, The Rest of It, The Suicide Room, In the Basement, When in Rome, Middleman, and Ladies and Gentlemen.

I usually give the plot of any book that I read but I won't do so here for two reasons. The first is that these are short stories. Revealing the plot is telling the entire story. The second reason is that I cannot as these stories seem to have no discernible plot. Each story had the potential to surprise and yet does not. In fact, they're quite predicable. They end and seem to have no point.

OK, so there's no plot. That is fine if you want to view this as a grouping of character studies. Even viewing the stories in this manner, I was disappointed. Each story is told in the point of view of one character. Some are first person. Others are told in third person. All are male except for the last. All of them, even the female could be the same person at different points in their lives. There is nothing different about any of them. They're unlikable characters with poor judgment skills.

These stories read like the author is an 80 year old retiree. (My apologies to open minded 80 year old retirees.) Is there some other reason why women and black people seem to be treated as though it were still the 50s? Women have no value except for their looks and sex. They're alien creatures the author doesn't understand. And black people, when they do exist, are illiterate or criminals. At any rate, they are likewise incomprehensible to his tiny mind.

3 STARS: Would I read it again? No. Recommend it? Probably not. However, it wasn't boring. Each story was interesting. For that, I gave the book 3 stars. Unfortunately, the stories were ultimately unsatisfactory in plot. The word "pointless" came to mind with each tale I completed.
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More About the Author

Adam Ross was born and raised in New York City and attended the Trinity School, where he was a state champion wrestler. A child actor, he has appeared in movies, commercials, and television shows, as well as on radio dramas such as The Eternal Light and E.G. Marshall's Mystery Theater.

He graduated with departmental honors in English from Vassar College and holds an M.A. and M.F.A. in creative writing from Hollins University and Washington University respectively, where he studied with Richard Dillard, Stanley Elkin, and William Gass.

Ross and his wife relocated to Nashville in 1995, where they continue to reside with their two daughters. From 1999-2003, he was a feature writer and special projects editor for the Nashville Scene, the city's alternative weekly. His column, Mondo Nashville, covered the city's local oddballs and off-kilter luminaries. His cover stories ranged in subjects from the city's porn king, Al Woods, to race relations, to interviews with homegrown movie star, Reese Witherspoon. He also wrote extensively on books and film. His nonfiction has been published in The Nashville Scene, The New York Times Book Review, NFocus, P.O.V., The Wall Street Journal, The Daily Beast, and Jungle Law. His fiction has appeared in The Carolina Quarterly.

Visit his website at http://adam-ross.com/

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