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Home Remedies (Harvest Original) Paperback – January 15, 2007


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Product Details

  • Series: Harvest Original
  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Mariner Books; 1 edition (January 15, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0156030756
  • ISBN-13: 978-0156030755
  • Product Dimensions: 0.6 x 5.2 x 7.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,043,041 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In this dark debut, Pneuman weaves together a collection of short stand-alone fictional stories that share a roughly similar thread of conservative Christian faith in the background. A 24-year-old woman is paid to collect money for charity outside department stores while sharing a twin bed and her neuroses with her young niece in "The Bell Ringer"; "Borderland" portrays a young girl dealing with the ways people hurt each other. In "The Beachcomber," two overweight girls long for attractiveness and male attention, but self-destructive behavior (and a rather gruesome sexual initiation) is a grim foreshadowing. "Invitation," one of the best pieces, explores the obsessive fear of a young Christian teen about premarital sex and how that fear plays out in a camp meeting where her father is the evangelist. The themes are often gritty: mental illness, cruelty, divorce, sexual exploration and coping with death. Pneuman's fine literary writing is excellent enough to land several of these pieces in publications such as The Best American Short Stories ("All Saints Day") and Ploughshares ("The Long Game"). Although readers may sometimes feel a cold disconnect with her characters, Pneuman's knowledge of the lingo of conservative Christianity lends authenticity to her narratives, and in several, she intimately portrays the interior lives and concerns of young girls. (Jan.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review

"In these eight carefully wrought stories, set mostly in Kentucky, an exorcism is performed in the basement of a Methodist church, a teen-ager becomes convinced that she is "history's second pregnant virgin," a divorced father returns from a trip to Jerusalem under the impression that he is a prophet, and an elderly churchwoman performs home surgeries with a bottle of Jim Beam and an ice pick...Pneuman shrewdly probes the dark underside of idealized emotions like faith, frequently employing adolescent narrators to reveal adults' hypocrisy..."
--The New Yorker

"...darkly hilarious...short stories...not the kind of girls you'd expect to meet in the evangelical Christian communities that Pneuman brings to life. Her girls dance and swear, drink and lie; they deflower each other with cucumbers and threaten their mothers with golf clubs. Pneuman...offers a clear-eyed view of the role religion plays in the lives of her characters. But her real subject is the complexity of female relationships, the ways that women depend on each other in a world where men often make themselves scarce. .."
--San Francisco Chronicle  

"The quietly desperate girls who slouch and grimace and pray through Angela Pneuman's pitch-perfect debut story collection, Home Remedies (Harcourt), live in Bible Belt Kentucky and have names like Priscilla and Shiloh and Laeticia. They have mothers who suck the air out of a room and keen about love... best friends as benign as scorpions, and fathers who are absent or dying or crazed. With her dark sense of humor and almost eerie apprehension of what people are too clenched to say, Pneuman is a stunning new talent to watch."
--O, The Oprah Magazine

"... 'Invitation,' one of the best pieces, explores the obsessive fear of a young Christian teen about premarital sex and how that fear plays out in a camp meeting where her father is the evangelist. The themes are often gritty: mental illness, cruelty, divorce, sexual exploration and coping with death. Pneuman's fine literary writing is excellent enough to land several of these pieces in publications such as The Best American Short Stories ("All Saints Day") and Ploughshares ("The Long Game")..."
--Publishers Weekly

"...The characters are bigger than the pages they inhabit, not because the stories themselves are small, but because the characters register a humor and terror that are so large...."
--The Believer

ADVANCE PRAISE FOR HOME REMEDIES

"Smart, brave and unflinchingly honest, Angela Pneuman is a writer of such flinty brilliance and such dead-on, dead-pan humor it’s often hard to believe you’ve arrived at the end of a story until stunned by the last gesture or word." –ZZ Packer

"Without a doubt, Angela Pneuman is one of the most astonishingly talented young writers working today. Her dark humor evokes Lorrie Moore, the richness and depth of her narratives call to mind Alice Munro, but these stories are all her own."—Julie Orringer

"This book is as fresh and astringent as a raw secret whispered just before church." --Ron Carlson

"These amazing stories have an inviting surface and a complex core that is in bitter conversation with it. They possess intelligence and grace of every sort. Angela Pneuman must surely be one of the most gifted young writers around." --Lorrie Moore

More About the Author

Angela Pneuman is the author of a book of short stories, Home Remedies, and a novel, Lay It on My Heart (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt). Her work has also appeared in Best American Short Stories (2012 & 2004), Ploughshares, the Los Angeles Review, Iowa Review, Glimmertrain and many other literary magazines. She currently teaches fiction writing at Stanford University and works as a copywriter in the California wine industry. Angela has received the Stegner Fellowship from Stanford, the Presidential Fellowship from SUNY Albany, and the first inaugural Alice Hoffman Prize for short fiction from Ploughshares.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Armchair Interviews on May 8, 2007
Format: Paperback
Angela Pneuman has a sharp sense of humor and great delivery in her short story collection, Home Remedies. Once you read the first story about a young girl who begs her skilled, elderly babysitter to take out her tonsils, you're sucked into worlds you've never seen quite like Pneuman describes them.

A Christian girl, not allowed to date, tries to hide her phone calls with a boy. But the young girl's perceptions are off; the boy isn't interested when his old girlfriend comes back to him. She has to discover this scenario in the lunchroom at school. Tragedy and comedy are meted out side by side in these stories of conflict, parental control, Christian values and the harsh realities of life.

The greatest gifts of these stories are Pneuman's endings to every story. She leaves the readers wondering in their own mind how everything played out. She doesn't give you the sugarcoated, everything-turns-out-fine kind of ending that the reader may expect. She leaves it up to the reader to decide how the stories end. Were the girl's tonsils removed? Did the boy dump the girl because she was Christian and couldn't date?

Armchair Interviews says: Riveting stories for any reader.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Adam Johnson on April 7, 2007
Format: Paperback
When I hear people talk about Pneuman's stories, they converge on some of the more unforgettable moments, as when a nanny heats an icepick to perform a home tonsillectomy or when a daughter raises a golf club to her mother. True, those are the kind of thrilling moments many people read for, but I think these stories are also filled with subtle humor, beautiful prose and achingly observed mother-daughter relationships. Plus this book will really make you think about the plateaus that follow a loss of faith.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By B. A. Overby on January 28, 2007
Format: Paperback
These stories offer a startling view of life at its seminal point. We see in these narratives, which generally feature young female protagonists growing up under variously oppressive circumstances, how the ravages of living are not reserved for the hardened or the experienced, but are often thrust upon the young with brutal exactness. We see also that the experienced are not necessarily the strong, or the wise, or the compassionate. In Pneuman's literary prism, a narrow ray of American life--that of young girls in rural Kentucky--disperses into its full, wicked, discomfiting, tender, spirited, and rousing spectrum. This is not only an important book, it is also a truly enjoyable read.
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