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Park City: New and Selected Stories Paperback – June 29, 1999


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 496 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage (June 29, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679781331
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679781332
  • Product Dimensions: 1.1 x 5.2 x 7.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,353,878 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Ann Beattie arrived on the literary scene in the early 1970s, publishing the first of her carefully understated short stories in the New Yorker and becoming something of a legend for the speed with which she worked--22 stories in a year, and a complete draft of her first novel, Chilly Scenes of Winter, in three weeks. Time has not slowed Beattie down--her fifth collection, Park City, follows hard on the heels of her fifth novel, My Life, Starring Dara Falcon, providing a kind of symmetry to her output. Lest you think Beattie is some kind of perpetual writing machine, however, be forewarned that only 8 of the 36 stories in this collection have not been previously published in book form; the rest are selected from earlier collections, thus offering an interesting survey of how the writer has changed--and how she hasn't.

From the start of her career, Beattie has been compared to Cheever and Updike, chroniclers of the chilly middle classes, and also to Raymond Carver, master practitioner of that school of literature known as minimalism. Beattie's stories seem smaller than life in some ways, depending as they do on an accretion of detail to round out her characters' lives. In her world, as in our own, there are no grand epiphanies, no moments of blinding realization. Instead, her characters muddle through their days in a series of small events that culminate in a whisper instead of a bang. In "Going Home with Uccello," for example, a woman on holiday with her lover in Italy watches him interact with a woman in a museum gift shop and realizes his true purpose for the trip is not to convince her to make a commitment to him, but rather to "persuade himself that he loved her so much that no one else could be a distraction--that no other woman could come between them." In "What Was Mine" another nameless narrator--male, this time--claims his inheritance from the man who had been his widowed mother's lover and the only father figure he'd ever known:

There was sheet music inside: six Billie Holiday songs that I recognized immediately as Herb's favorites for ending the last set of the evening. There were several notes, which I suppose you could call love notes, from my mother. There was a tracing, on a food-stained Merry Mariner place mat, of a cherry, complete with stem, and a fancy pencil-drawn frame around it that I vaguely remembered Herb having drawn one night. There was also a white envelope that contained the two pictures of one of the soldiers on Guam; one of a handsome young man looking impassively at a sleeping young baby. I knew the second I saw it that he was my father.
Understanding, such as it is, comes in the quiet moments, in the exchange of glances in a gift shop, or the transposed captions on a couple of photographs.

Over the years, Beattie has continued to map the psychological and emotional territory of the urban, the educated, the neurotic middle class. On those occasions when her stories are set outside of New York--Vermont, Park City, Utah, Italy--her characters are generally from there, or at least from another large city such as Los Angeles. Beattie's prose has always been crisp, smart with just a touch of the smart aleck to it--on occasion she can be remarkably funny. But there's a chilliness in her stories that discourages the reader from getting too close, or investing too much. Her often nameless narrators tell their tales in the modulated tones of well-brought-up people for whom not wearing one's heart on one's sleeve is a religion. And yet in their spare revelations of loss and disappointment, their timid essays to the borderlands of hope, more often than not these characters do get under your skin. Depending on your tolerance for ambiguity, they can either irritate or captivate. Beattie's work tends to play to the intellect rather than the gut. For readers looking for a shot to the cerebellum, she satisfies; for those who prefer their fiction warm-blooded, Park City might be a trifle too cool. --Alix Wilber --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Remarking in an author's note that the same first names keep popping up in her work, Beattie (My Life Starring Dara Falcon, 1997, etc.) writes that she "intended no linkage from story to story?though there are a few in-jokes, of course." In fact, her stories are the in-jokes of an era. Since they first appeared in The New Yorker in the 1970s, her early chronicles of aimless youth, ambivalent love and fractured families have lost none of their wistful appeal or satirical bite. Neither has their author, as the eight new stories published here prove. To Beattie fans, her themes will be familiar. If the new work has a certain emphasis, it's surrogate parenthood. In the hilarious "Cosmos," a schoolteacher resists marriage to a man she met through a personals ad and takes guilty pleasure in exaggerating the foibles of his hyperactive, destructive little son for the amusement of her Japanese pupils. In the title story, a woman spends a week at an off-season Utah ski resort with her half-sister Janet "more or less looking after Janet's boyfriend's daughter, Lyric (fourteen), who is in turn looking after Janet's child, my niece, Nell (three)." The narrator's efforts to take care of the two girls?thrown temporarily together, like their self-centered parents, more by bad luck than design?are convincing, touching and (as always in Beattie's short fiction) funny. Re-reading the older work, one wishes that the 36-story collection were more comprehensive (one misses such gems as "Fancy Flights" or "Friends"), but this is a small complaint about a generous, very welcome volume of stories from one of the most influential masters of the form.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

Ann Beattie has been included in four O. Henry Award Collections and in John Updike's Best American Short Stories of the Century. In 2000, she received the PEN/Malamud Award for achievement in the short story form. In 2005, she received the Rea Award for the Short Story. She and her husband, Lincoln Perry, live in Key West, Florida, and Charlottesville, Virginia, where she is Edgar Allan Poe Professor of Literature and Creative Writing at the University of Virginia.

Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Robert Nagle on March 15, 2007
Format: Paperback
Out of frustration at not being able to find the stories in this collection, I am posting them here:

Cosmos 3

Second Question 38

Going Home with Uccello 51

The Siamese Twins Go Snorkeling 58

Zalla 75

Ed and Dave Visit the City 82

The Four-Night Fight 90

Park City 100

Vermont 137

Wolf Dreams 154

Dwarf House 166

Snakes' Shoes 175

Secrets and Surprises 185

Weekend 196

A Vintage Thunderbird 211

Shifting 226

The Lawn Party 238

Colorado 251

Learning to Fall 273

The Cinderella Waltz 283

Jacklighting 300

Waiting 306

Desire 316

Greenwich Time 325

The Burning House 335

Janus 351

In the White Night 356

Heaven on a Summer Night 361

Summer People 368

Skeletons 381

Where You'll Find Me 386

The Working Girl 403

In Amalfi 410

What Was Mine 421

Windy Day at the Reservoir 431

Imagine a Day at the End of Your Life 474
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 14, 2000
Format: Paperback
This book was my first encounter with Beattie, and I must say that I was completely taken with her prose and the ease with which she provides us glimpses into her characters' lives. As a reader who revels in the chance to read writers who are technical masters of the short story form, Beattie did not disappoint. What I did find disappointing was that the stories became repetitive in theme and style so that powerful effect of the excellent ones ("Vermont, The Burning House, "Where You'll Find Me") was ultimately diluted by some of the other weaker stories. Finally, it is nice to read a female author who is unashamed to write about the human heart without an artifial device like southern charm or supposed female wackiness, both of which can sometimes be a distraction and detraction from a story
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 4, 1998
Format: Hardcover
This is the most stunning selected stories I've read since Raymond Carver's "Where You'll Find Me." People portray Beattie as cold, but then so is the world her characters live, and so are ours. Perhaps the reason some people dislike Beattie is that she works her way gently into the reality of our lives and without our noticing, with an elegance of prose virtually unmatched, she shatters the safety in which we live, forcing us to seek for something other than the illusory grasping we call our lives. This is a fabulous book and perhaps the world of her characters seems sterile, but then look around as you stand at a busstop and you'll see what she means, how humanity lies beneath the thinly constructed facades of society and love.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Cort McMeel on January 2, 2003
Format: Paperback
When I think of Miles Davis, the word virtuoso comes to mind. When I think of Ann Beattie's short stories, the music from Miles' classic album "Kind of Blue" plays in my head. Spare, taut, controlled, yet so emotionally stripped down as to be poetic in the truest sense. This is fiction that rings like a tuning fork, humming inaubibly to the fragile souls that inhabit these works. Short stories like "Vermont", "Burning House", and "Where'll You Find Me" resonate with despair and, yet, at the same time tremble with a glimmer of hope. Bawdiness and loudness of voice, a brawling style, does not prevail in these quiet tales. But then again Ms. Beattie isn't trying to be Hemingway. She in her own way moved the short story beyong Hem and Cheever and even Carver, taking it to a realm where readers and writers are innured to listen.
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