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Love Without: Stories Paperback – July 1, 2007


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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Stahl's 1995 memoir, Permanent Midnight (detailing his life as a drug-addicted TV writer), and three novels (I, Fatty the most recent), have won him a fan base that shares his glee for the comically deviant, but even his most ardent supporters will be disappointed with this hodgepodge of thin sketches and riffs. Several pieces trade in little more than shock value. Bunker Buster, for instance, details a homosexual tryst with Dick Cheney in the backroom of a Wyoming gun shop. Readers will also meet a hirsute midget with a vegetable fetish, a religiously devout hooker whose creative interpretation of her virginity pledge allows her to work as a prostitute, and a woman who takes her cocaine in an unorthodox manner. These characteristically perverse entries are incongruously offset with more conventional but promising fare: an account of a straitlaced dentist spontaneously running off with a teenaged girl hints at a desire to go beyond the merely eccentric, while the handful of pieces about boyhood are deeply felt, if too slight to satisfy. The book is less a collection of fully conceived stories than a repository for half-baked ideas. (July)
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Review

"A wordsmith extraordinaire." -- New Angeles Monthly

"Tender and gut-busting." -- LA Weekly

"[Stahl's] flair for the tragicomic is well-suited to the short form.... He metes out desperation and dark humor in just the right amounts, applying clarity and sympathy to subjects many would consider marginal or disturbing. It's obvious that he relates to his characters, weirdos though they may be; it's obvious, too, that he thinks the reader, with a little help, could relate to them as well." -- Washington City Paper

"[Stahl]...knows how to shock us into laughter, and his best work mines the grotesque for pathos, a tradition that includes Flannery O'Connor, Barry Hannah and Denis Johnson ...The key isn't whom he writes about, but at what depth...Stahl plunges us into depraved worlds with a keen intensity of purpose, and his addled protagonists run up hard against the truth of their desires." -- Los Angeles Times
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Open City Books; 1st edition (July 1, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1890447455
  • ISBN-13: 978-1890447458
  • Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 5.5 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #876,524 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Pushcart Prize-winning author Jerry Stahl has written six books, including the memoir Permanent Midnight (made into a film with Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson), and the novels Pain Killers and I, Fatty (optioned by Johnny Depp). Former Culture Columnist for Details, Stahl's widely anthologized fiction and journalism have appeared in a variety of places, including Esquire, The New York Times, Playboy, The Rumpus, and The Believer. He has also written extensively for film and television, including the highest rated episodes of CSI and, most recently, the HBO film Hemingway & Gelhorn, with Nicole Kidman and Clive Owen.

Customer Reviews

3.1 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Grady Harp HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on September 30, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Jerry Stahl is a unique writer, one that will shock your socks off, make you feel as though you should put brown paper over the cover of the book so that no one will know you're reading it, and definitely reserve participating in his stories in secret private places. BUT, the man can write short stories more original in content and craftsmanship than most anyone around. This collection of eleven stories covers a large span of his career and when grouped together in the manner in which his publisher has placed them, they shock, entertain, tickle, horrify, and in general provide come of the strangest exploration of human borderline behavior ever written!

Meet Miss Chatty Cheeks, a woman of advanced years who abuses cocaine through an 'original' portal; Doris (an older woman) and early teen virgin Bob and the physical encounter they share in their assigned seats while flying across America; Puray, a chubby blond small person (AKA midget) who has a flair for using braised carrots in a most bizarre fashion; Lorraine and Mr. Carrigan who share an apartment wall with surprises; Vice President Dick Cheney in a sadomasochistic encounter with a fellow gun aficianado in the back room of a guns and ammo shop; and a religiously challenged prostitute convinced her services are acts of charity.

Some would call these stories smarmy at best, but that would be ignoring the superb writing of this fine author. He knows what he is about, loves to tantalize the reader with tales that border on hallucinations, and yet he rounds up these stories with such skill and craftsmanship that they hold the readers blushing attention. He may not be the first author to enter the realm of the bawdy, but he is the equal of many of the greats who have lasted through time with their naughty little tales. He is outrageous AND he is gifted! Grady Harp, September 07
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Jocelyn Bocking on September 7, 2007
Format: Paperback
This is the first book I have read By Jerry Stahl, and I enjoyed it. It was a quick read, and good for someone like me who has a short attention span. I love Bizarre Americana, and these short stories really highlight the hidden Middle Class skeletons in closets. I do want to read his other titles now, I like Stahl's style.
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"Love Without" is a book I've owned for awhile now and I finally got the chance to read it.

It's not your average short story collection, these stories are cruel, sweaty, dirty and sometimes vile.

Of the eleven stories in the book, there was really only one that I didn't enjoy. "Lil Dickens", a satire about Dick Cheney, just didn't hit the mark.

A few of my favorites were:

Twilight of the Stooges
Pure
Finnegan's Waikiki
The Somnambulist's Wife

If you like Chuck Palahniuk and/or that kind of craziness ( I do), you would probably enjoy "Love Without".

This was my first Jerry Stahl book, but I plan to read his crime fiction / black comedies "Plainclothes Naked" & "Painkillers" which go together.
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Format: Paperback
If you have followed Jerry's writing career up to this point, his new collection of short stories will be a welcome addition to the Stahl cannon.
Bringing together stories both old and new, Love Without serves as a sort of geological slice charting the progress of Jerry's writing career. These stories are well crafted and often humorous in a dark light. They transcend the superficial laughs by revealing the common thread all creatures share who walk this planet, our vulnerability. Do yourself a favor and grab it, Stahl picks up where Balzac left off, the human comedy continues.
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