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The Practical Heart: Four Novellas Paperback – August 27, 2002
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
In Gurganus's work, there's a willingness to let the story tell itself, to stay out of the characters' way. Not to be "Clever" or "show off", but to always brilliantly have the right word, the telling scene, the tone needed. I believe that Gurganus cares more about his people than anybody writing. He sees them, faults and all, until you feel ready to adopt him as your sponsor, or your god. This quiet funny book should win all the prizes. The day after I finished it, I looked around for something else good to read. Something somewhat like it. Then I just started The PRactical Heart again. You'll see what I mean. I think he has broken through to a different and a higher level of meaning and heart. The work is so lovingly shaped. It makes most everything else feel pulpy, like junk. This one will be read forever.
The title story has a postmodern shift that distracted me and broke my emotional involvement with the main character. You're reading about a nephew writing about his aunt, then you learn the nephew was fictionalizing her life. The rest of the story is his true picture of her and their relationship, which is far less engaging.
In the second story, "Preservation News," the writing becomes even more precious and self-indulgent. Gurganus beats the reader over the head with forced whimsy.
For me the final straw came during the first conversation between a young historical preservationist and a widowed eastern North Carolina matron. Encouraging her to help with his work, he says, "You need to get your excellent, sinewy ass in gear, girl."
I'm from eastern North Carolina, I've met hundreds of matrons, and I have several gay friends, one of whom does historical preservation. I can assure you that Gurganus' line would never be spoken in the situation he presents. It was so absolutely phony that, coming after the book's other annoyances, I lost all interest in continuing.