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Love and Hydrogen: New and Selected Stories Paperback – January 27, 2004


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Love and Hydrogen: New and Selected Stories + You Think That's Bad (Vintage Contemporaries) + Like You'd Understand, Anyway (Vintage Contemporaries)
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 340 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; First Edition edition (January 27, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1400033497
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400033492
  • Product Dimensions: 0.7 x 5.2 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #789,197 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

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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Review

"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."
--Dave Eggers

"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."
--Michael Chabon


“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

More About the Author

Jim Shepard was born in Bridgeport, Connecticut, and is the author of six novels, including most recently Project X, and four story collections, including the forthcoming You Think That's Bad (March 2011). His third collection, Like You'd Understand, Anyway, was a finalist for the National Book Award and won The Story Prize. Project X won the 2005 Library of Congress/Massachusetts Book Award for Fiction, as well as the ALEX Award from the American Library Association. His short fiction has appeared in, among other magazines, Harper's, McSweeney's, The Paris Review, The Atlantic Monthly, Esquire, DoubleTake, the New Yorker, Granta, Zoetrope: All-Story, and Playboy, and he was a columnist on film for the magazine The Believer. Four of his stories have been chosen for the Best American Short Stories and one for a Pushcart Prize. He's won an Artists' Grant from the Massachusetts Cultural Council and a Guggenheim Fellowship. He teaches at Williams College and lives in Williamstown with his wife Karen, his three children, and two beagles.

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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This is the second collection of short stories by Mr. Shepard I've read.
Toren
There's a shiver of authenticity present in all of his fiction, an emotional honesty that defies sentiment and still manages to be heart-wrenching.
Cliff Burns
I'd like to read one of his novels and see how he manages to sustain a story into a longer narrative.
Patrick Mc Coy

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Jeff Topham on March 10, 2004
Format: Paperback
This is the best short fiction collection I've read in several years. Shepard's stories are both economical and lean--there isn't much here that's over 20 pages long, but Shepard packs into those 20 pages a complexity of theme and character that most writers can't approach even at novella length. It is a dizzying collection, by turns violent, funny, and wrenchingly sad. Shepard writes in a dazzling array of voices, handling each with effortless authority. He is particularly good at adolescents (see also the amazing Project X), but these stories also give voice to a Yugoslav football player, a German test pilot, John Entwhistle, John Ashcroft, and the Creature from the Black Lagoon. Superb.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By tom nguyen on September 24, 2004
Format: Paperback
Reading Jim Shepard's `Love and Hydrogen' right after Adam Haslett's overwrought and over-rated `You Are Not a Stranger Here' was what I needed to re-affirm my faith in short fiction as an art form. As a reader I want a fulfillment of what fiction promises: a mimesis; that the author will try to inhabit other lives and situations and render them in a way that produces something novel for me. I don't need self-affirmation or a lesson. I want a story. And in a short story collection I want stories. Many times, such as in Haslett's book, the situations are so repetitive that you suspect that the author is rendering his own life through these stories, that self-indulgence and egotism over-ride art or any interest in art. Sorry for writing of my opinion of Haslett's work, but it brought into stark contrast why I liked this collection so much more.

Shepard's work is most notable for its incredible diversity of setting, voice and theme: a teen-age girl's first person account of a friendship strained by class division (Spending the Night With the Poor), the disaffections and fascination of a Yugoslav footballer in progressive 1960's Holland (Ajax is All About Attack), the thrill and resignation of a World War II German test pilot (Climb Aboard the Mighty Flea) are just a sample. He can approach a story as a straight ahead narrative (The Mortality of Parents) or as an ironic romp(The Creature from the Black Lagoon) and yet he always seems to find his way to the dark heart of the story. He is at his best when he takes on narratives or personae that we think we know and produces something startlingly fresh: `We Won't Get Fooled Again' a brief history of The Who from the eyes of their most enigmatic member, bassist John Entwhistle, is hilarious and heart-rending.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Philip Lear on November 28, 2011
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I thought Love and Hydrogen was incredible. His spectacularly detailed description of the Hindenburg and his use of history as a backdrop was terrific. I also loved the one about the explorer and the giant shark.

Writer Interruptus and Other Stories
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Adam Neale on July 16, 2008
Format: Paperback
These stories are fascinating and captivating. Within this one book you are intimately guided through such disparate worlds as the Hindenburg's last voyage and the crew's forbidden love affair and the amazon jungle and the Creature from the Black Lagoon and his eons of lonliness.This is my favorite book to give to people with a wicked sense of humor. Its equally funny and compassionate, perfect to feed bizarre nighttime dreams.
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A. Ross HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on December 31, 2005
Format: Paperback
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 and different with every story. The twenty-two stories collected here have all (except for one) previously appeared in various glossy magazines, literary journals, and even Shepard's previous book "Batting Against Castro." I had never read him until picking up his excellent novel Project X last year, and was so impressed with his ability to capture voice that I had to track this down. And wow, what a dazzling array of voices are represented here! Among the protagonists are: Attorney General John Ashcroft, Who bass player John Entwistle, the Creature from the Black Lagoon, Czech WWII partisans, German WWII test pilots, oceanographer William Beebe, an explorer/adventurer from the 1920s, a weak-hitting baseball player in the 1950s, a Serbian soccer player in the 1960s, a few obsessed academics, an assortment of dysfunctional adults and kids, and in the title story, a gay crewman aboard the Hindenberg zeppelin.

A number of the stories feel like Shepard read an interesting work of non-fiction, and then decided to use his reading as the basis for a story. Not coincidentally, many of these were among my favorites, due to their especially strong sense of place.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
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. He captures a way of viewing the world that is refreshing and magical.
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