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Nine Inches: Stories Hardcover – September 10, 2013

4.4 out of 5 stars 106 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

The main selling point of any short story collection is, arguably, this: if you don’t like one story, you can simply skip ahead to the next one. Most best-selling authors with name-brand recognition have published at least one volume of short stories. A well-regarded humorist like David Sedaris is blessed with a trademark wit that can turn almost any subject matter into absurdist gold. But the art of crafting short stories effectively is not necessarily a skill inherent to even the most talented novelists. Perrotta is a successful author, with memorable hits like Election (1998) and Little Children (2004), both of which were turned into acclaimed Hollywood films. Its eyebrow-raising title aside, Nine Inches (a reference to the minimum distance that chaperones must maintain between the hormonal kids at a middle-school dance) isn’t going to ignite anyone outside of Perrotta’s loyal fan base. These stories of unhappy suburbanites are serviceable but lacking a killer emotional hook, with the exception of “One-Four-Five,” a true standout about a sad-sack pediatrician who becomes obsessed with blues music while going through a midlife divorce. --Chris Keech

Review

“The acclaimed novelist displays perfect tonal pitch in this story collection, as nobody explores the darker sides of suburbia with a lighter touch.” ―Kirkus Reviews (starred)

“Told with wit and grace, Perrotta's story collection lays bare the shifting relationships we all suffer and seldom comprehend, presenting characters who are ambushed by the hidden intentions of people they thought they knew.” ―Publishers Weekly

“In this strong collection of short stories, Perrotta once again peeks behind the living-room curtains of manicured suburbia and imagines characters whose lives are less than tidy.” ―People

“[A] wickedly funny collection of suburbia-skewering stories.” ―Harper's Bazaar

“Perrotta's stuff is dark, but it goes down so easy, especially when bite-size.” ―New York magazine

“The novelist who so perfectly captured the insanity of suburbia in The Leftovers and Little Children returns to the form that made him famous in this darkly comic collection of stories.” ―Entertainment Weekly

“The stories hang together so beautifully, the writing is so stylistically consistent, and the themes are so closely related, the book comes across like a novel, or a collection of interlocking stories. It's as if we're wandering through a single community in a particular town, as in James Joyce's "Dubliners" or in so many of Ann Beattie's and Raymond Carver's collections. We're in PerrottaWorld, where the stories and characters and their concerns all seem to rhyme with one another.” ―Boston Globe

“Perrotta fixates on small-town types whose complex quirks make them not extraordinary or noble but average; what is extraordinary is Perrotta's empathic insight into how his characters cope--or, short of that, forget.” ―Elle

“The descendant of such chroniclers of small-town America as Thornton Wilder, John O'Hara, and Willa Cather...Perrotta's language never announces itself; it recedes into the background, allowing the characters, with their convincing and contemporary dialogue, to drive the narrative in a way that sounds organic and true.” ―New York Times

“Tom Perrotta has proven time and again that he has a tremendous gift for telling darkly comedic tales of suburban ennui, as seen through the eyes of a seemingly endless stable of hilariously sad (and sadly hilarious) protagonists. Perrotta's latest book, an ingratiating collection of sublimely paced short stories, filled with masterful character sketches and comically vexatious scenarios, extends his streak.” ―Time Out

“The ray of light in Perrotta's new stories comes from his characters' belated recognition of their foibles and failures, and their earnest and quintessentially American yearning to do better.” ―National Public Radio

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press; First Edition ~1st Printing edition (September 10, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1250034701
  • ISBN-13: 978-1250034700
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.9 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (106 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #773,531 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Tom Perrotta has delivered his first set of short stories since his first book, BAD HAIRCUT, back in the mid-90s. Perrotta, well-known for such great novels as THE LEFTOVERS, ELECTION and LITTLE CHILDREN, has crafted nine perfect stories that encapsulate his unique voice as the balladeer for life in the suburbs. NINE INCHES features nine stories about the lost, the lonely and the outsider, all navigating the stretch of America between the Best Buy and the Olive Garden. The title story refers to the length of measurement the chaperones have to use at the middle school dance to make sure couples aren't too close. In GRADE MY TEACHER a middle-age teacher becomes obsessed with negative feedback on a popular student site. SENIOR SEASON is the last year of high school for Clay, whose injury the year before leaves him off the football team and trying aimlessly to make a place for himself. THE ALL-NIGHT PARTY is told from the POV of a chaperone at the senior's post-graduation school-sanctioned party. All of Perrotta's characters are treated with respect no matter their questioning of life or their reasons for existing. The ennui of suburban living has never been more potent than from the pen of Perrotta, whom, along with Stewart O'Nan, are our modern-day Updikes and Yates.
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Format: Kindle Edition
NINE INCHES

The best thing about author Tom Perrotta is his ability to dive directly into his characters hearts, souls, minds, and emotions. He makes his characters NOT perfect; they are extremely human and therefore full of little flaws and the imperfections that make all of us human.

This is my first book of short stories by Perrotta; I have read and enjoyed LITTLE CHILDREN and THE WISHBONES. This book certainly did not disappoint. There are ten stories and each and every one of them were practically perfectly written, holding my interest, surprising and shocking me, and sometimes making me laugh out loud or turn to tears. Perrotta has the human factor down pat.

A few of my favorites from this sweeping little book are:

BACKRUB -- A pizza delivery boy has a strange relationship with a police officer. Our delivery guy is taking a 'break' between high school and college and decides that delivering pizza would be a great way to make some cash and pass the time. However, things are not what they seem and there is much more substance to this story than a hot and cheesy pizza being delivered. Why isn't he going to college when he should be? Is there really money to be made in the pizza delivery business? What is up with the police officer? Read this shocking little yarn and find out!

THE TEST-TAKER -- Is another winner regarding a high school student who is paid big bucks to take SAT testing for other students. It is a booming business and one this guy excels at. He has a boss who picks his clients carefully and who supplies all the fake IDs required. One day, however, Josh, our test-taker, looses control and the results are unbelievable.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I discovered Tom Perrotta back in 2008, when my mom was dying of cancer. I raced through all of his book as I sat with her through chemotherapy appointments and long nights in hospital rooms. Perrotta's keen mix of humor and heart, even amid awkward and morally tenuous situations, grabbed my attention. He is among a handful of authors of which I most eagerly anticipate their new releases and that I will purchase their books without a care towards reviews or subject matter. If he publishes, I'm buying.

Nine Inches Stories is Perrotta's second collection of shorts. Perrotta really excels at writing both novels and short stories, but as I have a huge affinity for shorts, making me extra excited for this collection.

It's strong and I enjoyed every story. However, the big stand-out was The Chosen Girl about a lonely senior citizen who reaches out to a young girl in a religious cult. It has a completely different feel from the other stories, yet it still keeps with Perrotta's usual theme of adult/teenager connections. Perrotta has a unique spin on what it means to grow up and often plays with ideas of how we are shaped by our childhood. The lines between adults and children are often blurred.

Another great piece was Senior Season, about a boy whose football injuries prevent him from playing in his senior year and the impact that it has both on his social life and the way that he views his life trajectory. As an adult reading this story, we know that high school is only a blip on the radar, but Perrotta so deftly writes the character's pain and frustration, that you can't help but have sympathy for him, even through his dramatic teenage gestures and complaints.
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This is the Tom Perrotta of "Little Children," a wry, intelligent, pitch-perfect suburban observer. I enjoyed every story in this collection (with the possible exception of "Happy Chang," a tedious tale of baseball). He writes equally well from a male or female point of view, and particularly shines when he writes about adolescence. These stories were funny, bittersweet and true.
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