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Signs and Wonders (Vintage Contemporaries Original) Paperback – June 5, 2012

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Product Details

  • Series: Vintage Contemporaries Original
  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage (June 5, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780307743794
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307743794
  • ASIN: 0307743799
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.8 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 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: #1,216,078 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


“Smart, satisfying, surprising stories. Ohlin has a big, calm, seductive talent.” —Joy Williams
“Ohlin has a marvelous will to explore and it’s clear that she’s in complete command of her art.  These stories are smart, tough, deeply felt and beautifully delivered, without one wasted word.  Signs and wonders, all right.  I’ve seldom come upon a book so aptly titled for what’s inside, page to page.” —Richard Bausch
“Nothing short of marvelous.  Olin writes like an Old Master, with confidence and clarity, a steady hand.  She is immensely gifted, and every story here is a lucid chunk of reality—the flesh made word.” – Jay Parini
“With an emotional intelligence that is nearly telepathic and a great storyteller’s knack for riveting your attention from the opening line, Ohlin makes us understand that beneath everything that drives and distracts us there is, first and foremost, the struggle to love.  She is a ferocious talent, a writer not only to watch but also to admire.” —Adam Ross
“I love the way Alix Ohlin’s stories teach us, with wit and tenderness, about those grown-up selves we don’t recognize; about the way our failures make us adults; and about how powerfully relieved we are to understand that, despite everything, our hearts can still move.” —Jim Shepard
“Ohlin’s stories are gripping from the get-go, and they don’t turn you loose.  On virtually every page she surprised me and, more times than I could count, put a lump in my throat.  She is one spectacular writer, and this is a beautiful book.” —Steve Yarbrough

"Unputdownable: crisp, focused, lovely, and lasting. . . . Sixteen stories about connectedness—between friends, families, and lovers—and the predicaments that come from navigating those relationships.  Ohlin's characters are so genuine you'll be reminded of people you know, love, and hate.  For better or worse, you may even see yourself in these pages." —Marie Claire

“Alix Ohlin working at the top of her powers… showing us in a remarkably mature and flat-out realistic style a new series of twists and turns in the lives of quite ordinary people – school teachers, women on the rebound, married folks and divorced folks, travelers, home bodies… There closely worked stories about life on earth – they soar.” —Alan Cheuse, NPR
“Calling all fans of Lorrie Moore, Deborah Eisenberg, and Robin Black:  You have a new favorite writer [with a] deliciously addictive collection.” – Sheila Anne Fenney, Newark Star-Ledger
“Alix Ohlin’s wondrously engrossing Inside and Signs and Wonders display her characteristic strengths—dynamic plots, keenly observed settings, and characters so idiosyncratic, ambivalent, and contradictory they could be your family, your neighbors, people you work with…..She has a rare gift for examining the confusions of the 21st century, exploring the ways in which addictions, afflictions, attractions, and random impulses shape our lives.  Her intense and beautifully shaped new novel and stories offer tentative yet illuminating answers.” – Jane Ciabattari, The Boston Globe

“Ohlin’s a master at drawing a character, a skill even more evident in the short story form, [and] she’s got a surgeon’s hand with the fine points of relationship dissection… Signs and Wonders makes me want to say to you, dear reader, one simple thing: Read this!” —Ian McGillis, Montreal Gazette

“Impressive… With enjoyably mordant humour and a surgical hand with relationship dissection… Ohlin crafts stories with consistent excellence.” —Brett Josef Grubisic, National Post

“One of the best story collections I’ve read in a decade… tough, original, funny and tragic, all at once.” —William McKeen, Creative Loafing Tampa

About the Author

Alix Ohlin is the author of The Missing Person, a novel, and Babylon and Other Stories. Her work has appeared in Best American Short Stories, Best New American Voices, and on NPR’s “Selected Shorts.” Born and raised in Montreal, she teaches at Lafayette College and in the Warren Wilson MFA Program for Writers.

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Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Jamie on August 22, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Although sad, the stories have excellent character development, and after every story I couldn't wait to start the next! Each story was unique and surprising.
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Format: Paperback
I agree with the reviewers who described this collection of sixteen short stories as a gift. And I would also describe the stories as gifts of unexpected love, love that does not appear in its usual wrappers.

While Alix Ohlin's conflicted characters are struggling to make sense of their relationships, they are surprised to discover love in situations they thought they would never choose or even welcome into their lives.

In the title story, the protagonist suddenly realizes she hates her husband of 26 years. Ready to divorce him, an unfortunate accident turns her well-orchestrated life upside down, forcing her to face the prospect of tending him indefinitely.

While sitting in a hospital waiting room with her daughter and the second wife, a divorced woman discovers she still has feelings for her ex-husband.

Reena agrees to accompany her aunt on "The Cruise," a post-divorce ritual that unleashes a torrent of feelings.

After connecting with the one who got away in "Who Do You Love?" Janet re-examines all her relationships and reaches an unexpected conclusion.

Alix Ohlin is gifted storyteller with an amazing eye for detail. Some of my favorite descriptions...

"She'd gotten married in a flurry of sex and promises, wearing a white dress so hideously confectionary that she felt like a parody of herself, a joke told in crinoline and lace, and even that made her happy, because it was silly and she knew they'd laugh about it later."

"Our boss, Eric, was an elderly bohemian who wore pilled woolen cardigans and too-short pants, and spent afternoons in his office reading manuscripts while twirling his beard between his thumb and index finger, making a little curl that stood out from his chin. By five o'clock his beard would be a tufted mess of curls, all fluffed out like the feathers of some preening bird. Because of this, Sarah and I called him the titmouse."
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By barbara on December 5, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The stories were so lovely - a trip into other worlds and lives worth taking. Olin offers surprise and delight.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Mary Lynne Cooper on December 31, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Best contemporary short stories I've ever read! Every story had an unexpected twist. I plan to look for more of her works.
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