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Although Shepard's mordantly funny, unsettling, yet immensely gratifying short stories race off in unforeseeable directions, they always veer into the crimson glare of trauma or death. As the ludicrous collides with the profound, the two axes of the human condition, the reader experiences a weird elation because Shepard, shrewdly deadpan and witty, gets it exactly right as he riffs on historical events and raids the junkyard of pop culture. In the extraordinarily imaginative title story, for instance, he vividly re-creates the flight of the doomed Hindenburg airship, on which two male crew members conduct a taboo affair. Elsewhere, Shepard enters the minds of The Who's John Entwhistle, the creature of the Black Lagoon, and John Ashcroft. Daringly inventive, as skillful as a top surgeon, and as clever, quirky, and right-on as David Byrne and Warren Zevon, to jump art forms, Shepard is breathtaking. Donna Seaman
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"This is one of the most important collections in years, because Shepard does so many things that are all too rare in the medium. He gives us red-blooded characters who leave the living room and fly, kayak, dive, search, and emerge from swamps to devour unwitting campers. Stories about dissolving marriages are fine, but how about two gay engineers on the Hindenberg? Or a 19th century man searching for a giant half-shark/half-whale? These are uniformly bold and exhilarating stories. Let's hope Shepard becomes as influential as he should be. He's the best we've got."
"In a first-rate gathering of 22 stories, bizarre premises drawn from history and popular culture share space with moving examinations of deranged family dynamics . . . Adventurous and enthralling work from one of the most interesting of all contemporary American writers."
--Kirkus, starred review
"These are some of my favorite short stories of the past decade. Reading them is like encountering our national literature in microcosm: multiform and polyrhythmic, violent and fanciful, erudite and hard-boiled, built on twin foundations of nostalgia for the never-was, and of that millennial American optimism that is indistinguishable from despair."
“Jim Shepard’s access to different voices, social types, levels of experience, is truly astonishing. He has observed deeply, and his selection of detail from that observation is brilliant. This is the work of a deft, audacious artist.” --Norman Rush
“Shepard’s writing is lean, assured, never canned; it is sometimes cinematic and often astringently funny. He reconstructs the ordinary and offers the surreal as a given, [finding] highly original ways into the most moving stories.” --Amy Hempel
Jim Shepard blew me away with his remarkable tales. I especially enjoyed the one told from the POV of the Creature from the Black Lagoon. Read morePublished on April 17, 2013 by Sean M
This is the second collection of short stories by Mr. Shepard I've read.
The first one was "Like You'd Understand, Anyway" which was excellent and got top reviews from many... Read more
Story collections which hover around the same setting can sometimes work, but I'm much keener on those which hop throughout time and space to transport the reader to somewhere new... Read morePublished on December 31, 2005 by A. Ross
the problem, for me, with jim shepard is that he has what seems to be *exactly* the right idea. his clinametic efforts to avoid the rote american short story are frequently... Read morePublished on November 2, 2005 by jack smack