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Phone Calls from the Dead Hardcover


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100 M&T
100 Mysteries & Thrillers to Read in a Lifetime
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Algonquin Books; 1st edition (September 14, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1565122453
  • ISBN-13: 978-1565122451
  • Product Dimensions: 7.3 x 5.3 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,455,888 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The narrator of "The Anomalist" one of the 10 stories gathered in Brenner's quirkily deadpan second collection (after Large Animals in Everyday Life) explains that he has remained in Florida because he once saw a zoo plaque that promised buffalo sightings "if you're at the right place at the right time." Unfortunately, he never seems to be where he's meant to be, and he has little left save the hope that great, galumphing beasts will lumber through the foreground of his life, changing him irrevocably. Like the short-circuited phone system in "Awareness," which unwittingly places calls to itself, Brenner's characters are protectively self-sufficient; like the operators who answer these phantom calls, they repeatedly experience the disappointment of an empty dial tone. Immunized against sentimentality by great doses of reason, characters have lover's quarrels that are "showdown[s] about beauty." Intellectual effort keeps Brenner's protagonists from falling apart entirely, but again and again they are undone by small gestures (a child's grasp, a sticky kiss) emotional depth charges that cannot be denied. The stories end with tiny, unexpected epiphanies: a girl lamenting the false promise of Snoopy, a man waiting for his dead son to pick up the phone, a man rocked in the arms of a golden-hearted hooker. Brenner's witty, empathetic voice animates a tawdry, urban Florida filled with the lost and the lonely, stale lives refreshed briefly by fleeting moments of passion. (Sept.)Forecast: Brenner, a contributing writer for the Oxford American, won the Flannery O'Connor Award for her first collection. Readers familiar with her work will snap up Phone Calls from the Dead, and strong reviews and an author tour should broaden her reach.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

In her second collection, Brenner, whose Large Animals in Everyday Life won the Flannery O'Connor Award, showcases her ability to conjure up bizarre situations and circumstances in the lives of ordinary people. A scientist learns to enjoy human relationships while compiling an encyclopedia of anomalies, while a high school student grosses out friends with her uncle's nipple, which she claims to have in an envelope. A father who mourns his son believes it's possible to communicate with him via tape recorder; four squirrels, tied together for a long time, are separated by a vet so they can live separately; and a very perceptive boy has a relationship with an unborn friend. Brenner is a gifted chronicler of these often poor and downtrodden characters, whose lives are marked by the oddity of the everyday world around them.Ellen R. Cohen, Rockville, MD
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 5, 2002
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I laughed the whole way through this book. I needed to read just one a day and let it reverberate in my mind. I was trying to save the stories for an upcoming vacation, but each day I gave into the temptation to read one more. I found myself thinking "yes, exactly!" even during parts of the stories that were surreal. They were somehow "right" in the same way that a bizarre dream can seem right; it only seems odd when you begin to describe it to someone else.
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6 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 5, 2001
Format: Hardcover
This book is so amazing-- funny, witty, super intelligent-- and ultimately so moving. I really was swept up in it. Her characters (even the squirrels) all have incredibly rich and complicated reactions to events-- interpreting them in utterly private and sometimes hilarious ways. I don't think I've ever read a book of stories that sustained such a high pitch of intelligence and emotion. This is a writer who has listened to the culture, and has found it not wanting, but complicated and full-blooded and emotional and fascinating.
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 5, 2001
Format: Hardcover
This book is so amazing-- funny, witty, super intelligent-- and ultimately so moving. I really was swept up in it. Her characters (even the squirrels) all have incredibly rich and complicated reactions to events-- interpreting them in utterly private and sometimes hilarious ways. I don't think I've ever read a book of stories that sustained such a high pitch of intelligence and emotion. This is a writer who has listened to the culture, and has found it not wanting, but complicated and full-blooded and emotional and fascinating.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Miss Hater on November 6, 2011
Format: Hardcover
I bought this book several years ago and just now got around to reading it.
Despite the title , the book really has nothing to do with the phenomena of phone calls from the dead.
Only one story is about after death communication.Leaving that aside though, the book is an overall enjoyable read.
Mrs. Brenner is indeed a talented writer as several times throughout the book I marveled at her ability to spin a story out of a bare or unlikely scenario.However, the book does have its flaws. One of the stories entitled" Are we there yet?" made little sense and the narrator of each story sounded almost exactly the same and had spoke with the same sorts of philosophical musings .That got a little tiresome by the middle of the book.
I don't fault the writer for that because as a very amateur writer myself, I know how difficult it is to make your characters sound distinctly different without resorting to stereotypes and overblown characters.
In summation this is a book that I did genuinely enjoy reading but doubt that I will read again.
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3 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 25, 2001
Format: Hardcover
this is an important and eloquent collection, from one of the finest young short story writers in the land.
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