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Good intro to an American original
on July 4, 2011
Other reviews here suggest that Hannah is still controversial. Unlike, say, readers of Samuel Beckett or Ben Marcus, with their reputations for difficulty, readers who buy without sampling Hannah are often in for a shock. He's always had trouble finding his audience because he's such a singularity: Southern, yes, but not easy like Flannery O'Connor or stylistically elegant like stream-of-consciousness Faulkner, he's a creative, twisty wordsmith while being down home and earthy, alien to most Lofty Northeastern postgraduate tastes, possessing an essentially comic vision when timeless literature supposedly calls for solemnity.
Years ago I was hooked by "Airships." Philip Roth's blurb convinced me to buy the book, and the many notable tributes that followed suggest that Hannah is a writer's writer: the more you value originality and inventiveness, the more you'll be impressed. I read everything he published thereafter.
So I bought this compilation only for the three stories previously unpublished. They were worth it: late Hannah was the best ever. Some writers were obviously influenced by him but he was, and always will be, sui generis. He can slow your reading speed, but every sentence is remarkable, and there is no filler at all. My favorites are here, "High Water Railers" and "Get Some Young," to name two. I would recommend "Long, Last, Happy" to readers who want a great introduction to this richly American original.