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She Loves Me Not: New and Selected Stories Hardcover – November 13, 2012
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"Extraordinary ... the work of an accomplished craftsman and a superb storyteller. The title story is an absolutely stunning portrayal of a physical place on the Earth. Nebraska — the state, the place — takes on the attributes of a living force, a character in itself, and the effect is a powerful, almost supernatural personification of geography and human culture. You watch the small prairie towns as they live and die. . . Ron Hansen's stories are powered by inexorable currents of fate ... [His] talent for sensuous detail travels very well — to the late 1800's, to the 1940's, to the present day ... With him ... we hear the sound of time passing, the rumble of destiny." — New York Times Book Review
"The land breathing, the sound of the wind, the rush of trains across the empty flatness of a Nebraska midnight. In all, it's the book I expected from Ron Hansen — rich in its art, high in its thematic reach, resonating with the complexities of a dense and fully realized fictional world." — Tim O'Brien
"Beautifully crafted stories. ... Wickedness, evil, malice is called by name; and for Hansen's people the snake in the garden never fails to appear." — New York Times
"Just as Raymond Carver was identified with a Pacific Northwest populated by blue-collar workers, and just as Richard Ford has crafted a Montana full of drifters, so Ron Hansen has carved out his own geographical niche. His Nebraska is a distinctive mix of 19th-century settlers and 1980's breadwinners, of sudden storms and life-long yearnings, of lost souls stranded in the middle of nowhere. It should put him on the short-story map." — USA Today
"Nebraska depicts a rowdy, changing American West with wit and brawny lyricism, in voices ranging from hip to tender, the stories gathered here are as diverse and expansive as the country they celebrate....References to America's heartland abound throughout the book and serve as a central metaphor for what's close to American hearts, what connects us: dreams, myths and possibilities as vast as the Great Plains. Wise and smart alecky, creaking with legend and crackling with modernisms, these tales are about American obsession past and present." — Washington Post Book World
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Top Customer Reviews
This book is a collection of Hansen's short stories, some republished from an earlier collection, Nebraska, and some newly published. Although I had read Nebraska years ago, I didn't mind at all re-reading those republished stories. Hansen is a writer who bears reading over and over. One in particular, Wickedness, is a story that still haunts me with its depictions of lives lost in a sudden freeze during a Nebraska winter. The depictions have the feel of reality, so much so that I left the story believing, rightly or wrongly, that it wasn't fiction -- if fiction, it's the kind of fiction that merits the over-used "truer than fact" label.
Some of these stories strike what to me is a different tone for Hansen -- a farcical tone I haven't appreciated in him before. The title story, She Loves Me Not, is an example, with characters and events spiraling away at a right angle from anything "normal".
I think what makes these stories, and Hansen's writing in general, so engrossing is his ability to disclose the depth of every human life in them. It's as if every character is experienced in the first person. He is telling the autobiographies of each character, and the story is their intersection.
If you haven't read any of Hansen's novels or short stories, this is not a bad place to start. It contains some samples of his historical fiction, in the tough portrayals of life in Nebraska, drawn out in larger form in novels like Desperadoes and The Assassination of Jesse James. It also contains those character studies of desperate or doomed characters, as in A Wild Surge of Guilty Passion. If you read these stories, you'll want to move on to those longer, fuller novels as well.
And from Omaha. Who would have thought?
He starts with two tales from 1880s Nebraska. WILDE IN OMAHA introduces the reader to the cutting wit of Oscar Wilde, who entertains prominent citizens at a dinner and presentation. Wilde's witticisms never cease: "A gentleman is one who never hurts anyone's feelings unintentionally." "I really must quit now. I'll empty myself of all thought and opinion and find I've become electable." On January 12, 1888, a once-in-a-century blizzard struck Nebraska, pure WICKEDNESS. "Horizontal snow that was hard and dry as salt dashed and seethed over everything." Hansen recounts how locals, accustomed to not changing their routines during ubiquitous winter snowstorms, freeze and die in the minus thirty-five degrees blizzard that "seemed to have a personality and hateful intention."
In NEBRASKA, serene beauty defines the landscape, the Democrat River, "the water slow as an oxcart, green as silage, croplands to the east, yards and houses to the west," and his vivid details capture a small town's heartbeat, as if from a scanning movie camera. Hansen slides deeper into Nebraska life with RED-LETTER DAYS, the diary of an aging golfer, who balances time between his favorite sport and everything else.
The author spins foreboding yarns in PLAYLAND, TRUE ROMANCE, and THE KILLERS, in which, Max beholds Rex as himself a generation ago and now as his deadly rival. But Hansen also displays laugh-out-loud humor (MY KIDS DOG), the emptiness of Alzheimer's (THE SLEEPWALKER), and aching sorrow (THE SPARROW).
My favorite stories cover working people striving higher.Read more ›
Seven of the stories are reprinted from Hansen's 1989 collection NEBRASKA. On the whole, I like these less than the more recent ones. Yet even here there are passages of brilliant observation, such as a description of a small country town where there is "no bookshop, no picture show, no pharmacy or dry cleaners, no cocktail parties, extreme opinions, jewelry or piano stores.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
He's a great writer but seven of the stories are in his other collection. To publish an "anthology" with only one other collection out seems wrong.Published on December 14, 2013 by A. Levine
The author has put together a variety of short stories that hold you captive with every situation. Way to go, Ron Hansen. Delightful!Published on July 30, 2013 by MMKerr