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The Paris Review Book of People with Problems Paperback – Deckle Edge, July 14, 2005


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The Paris Review Book of People with Problems + The Paris Review Book: of Heartbreak, Madness, Sex, Love, Betrayal, Outsiders, Intoxication, War, Whimsy, Horrors, God, Death, Dinner, Baseball, ... and Everything Else in the World Since 1953 + Object Lessons: The Paris Review Presents the Art of the Short Story
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

All fiction concerns people with problems—without them, after all, where's the plot?—but the characters in these 17 stories, originally published in the Paris Review between 1974 and 2004, have been dealt particularly bad hands. Some, like the junkie mother in Malinda McCollum's "The Fifth Wall," have screwed up their lives pretty thoroughly, while others appear to be merely drifting along, like the therapist in Charles Baxter's "Westland." The tone shifts from story to story: Joanna Scott traces the beginnings of a psychoanalyst's obsession with a patient in the neutral language of a case history, while Elizabeth Gilbert continually ups the farcical stakes as she spins a yarn about a violent nightclub owner, his magician daughter and their rabbit. Other contributors include Denis Johnson, Mary Robison, Rick Bass and Norman Rush. Charlie Smith's tale of drunken buddies who hook up with a naked woman on a canoeing trip is the only real misstep, coming off like a parody of stories of rural dysfunction. But this is overall a strong anthology of tales of trouble. (July)
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From Booklist

It is said that all literature is ultimately about people in trouble--in short, people with problems. Hence this collection of 17 short stories about protagonists in fixes, exemplary tales that first appeared in the Paris Review. Notables such as Rick Bass, Norman Rush, Charles Baxter, and Elizabeth Gilbert twist the lives of the problem-ridden in stories resonating with all-too-human travails. On one end of the spectrum is Joanna Scott's "A Borderline Case," featuring a suave, sophisticated gentleman, K, analyst for 30 years to patient B, a fellow gentleman, lover of boys, closet scientist, and object of K's love and lust. In contrast, blue-collar Buddy, in Annie Proulx's "The Wamsutter Wolf," loses jobs because of his temper and finds himself unemployed in a run-down, single-wide, furnished trailer. There, in a setting that makes Tobacco Road look luxurious, he suffers a venomous snakebite as prelude to the trashy neighbors who embroil him in their violent, squalid lives. Is all life a problem or the overcoming of it? This far-ranging collection will inspire lively discussion. Whitney Scott
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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This Book Is Bound with "Deckle Edge" Paper
You may have noticed that some of our books are identified as "deckle edge" in the title. Deckle edge books are bound with pages that are made to resemble handmade paper by applying a frayed texture to the edges. Deckle edge is an ornamental feature designed to set certain titles apart from books with machine-cut pages. See a larger image.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Picador; 1st edition (August 1, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312422415
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312422417
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #787,852 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Luan Gaines HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on July 26, 2005
The latest Paris Review anthology is timed to coincide with Editor Philip Gourevitch's redesign of the venerable magazine, a staple of avid readers for the last fifty-two years, this volume dedicated to "People with Problems". The cover features the collection behind glass, with instructions to "break in case of emergency". Who can resist these stories, some from George Plimpton's editorial oversight, others chosen by Gourevitch. Authors include Annie Proulx, Rick Bass, Frederick Busch, Denis Johnson and Julie Oringer.

Over the years, summer has become synonymous with beach reading, or lit-lite, those few heated months in danger of being swamped by chick-lit and frivolous novels. This anthology is a breath of fresh air, an opportunity to spend a few hours of intellectual stimulation. The new editor, who lobbied enthusiastically for his position, has a vision for Plimpton's seminal magazine, to "publish essential reading". Not only is the fiction carefully chosen in the new Paris Review, but the poetry selections will be fewer, but with more work from each poet, moving "seriously toward poetry portfolios". The editor's intent is clear in the anthology and a hint of the new direction of the magazine.

The Paris Review's reputation aside, this volume stands alone, a welcome addition to briefcase or bedside table, as a companion to a solitary meal or a story before sleep, The Paris Review Book of People with Problems is a certain success. Creativity and critical thinking, observations of modern life, both dark humor and drama; the series of Paris Review anthologies offer quality work for those who demand it, a variety of perspectives, the truth in its many disguises.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Chris Owens on September 15, 2005
What else is there to say - the stories in this collection are culled from 30 years of Paris Review archives and are extremely hard to find fault with, and even more difficult not to be moved by. There are a wide variety of stories in here, some by well knowns, some not - each story is different from what you'd expect from the author (Train Dreams, Denis Johnson for example), some are more memorable than others, but that's just my opinion. Despite the title, I don't find the stories overly depressing, or the characters overwrought with problems. Conflict creates good drama, and there's a lot of complex drama here. I believe the Paris Review publishes some of the best fiction out there - this proves it. Not only can they select great work to publish, but they can create an anthology like this - even under "new management". This is fine, fine stuff - dense, dark, language so good it crunches in your mouth. I'll be looking for more PR collections in the future.
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