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Simplify Paperback – October 1, 2005

7 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"A keen voice, profound insight...Simplify is devilishly entertaining." Los Angeles Times



"Goldberg's prose is deceptively smooth, like a vanilla milkshake spiked with grain alcohol, and his ideas are always made more complex and engaging by the offbeat angles his stories take." Chicago Tribune

Book Description

From the author of the acclaimed novel Living Dead Girl, a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, come twelve haunting stories about people caught somewhere between love and madness. Simplify mines the often surreal terrain of people on the margins of life: from the man with a photo of Elvis bleeding on his wall in "Comeback Special," to the profoundly troubled boy genius of the title story "Simplify," to the family that must traverse "The Distance Between Us" to finally get to the truth about their son the murderer, each story hums with sharp drama, mystery, wonder, and startling humor. Simplify, the first collection of short fiction by Tod Goldberg, portrays a world where redemption, hope, and violence are never too far apart. It is the inaugural volume in the Other Voices Book Series.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 172 pages
  • Publisher: OV Books (October 1, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0976717719
  • ISBN-13: 978-0976717713
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,869,844 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Tod Goldberg is the author of several books of fiction, including the novels Living Dead Girl, a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, Fake Liar Cheat and the popular Burn Notice series, as well as two collections of short stories, Simplify and Other Resort Cities. His essays, nonfiction, and journalism have appeared widely, including, most recently, in Best American Essays 2013. His latest novel, Gangsterland, will be released in fall 2014 from Counterpoint. Tod Goldberg holds an MFA in Creative Writing and Literature from Bennington College and lives in Indio, CA where he directs the Low Residency MFA program in Creative Writing & Writing for the Performing Arts at the University of California, Riverside.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By David Montgomery VINE VOICE on November 4, 2005
Format: Paperback
Short story collections are nearly impossible to review, especially in anything under several hundred words. (How do you comment generally on a book that contains twelve different stories that vary in plot, theme, quality, etc.?) Still, there are a few observations that one can make about Tod Goldberg's Simplify. The stories are sharp and insightful, many of them dealing with issues emerging from childhood. The writing is often funny, even when it's painful, and always to the point, with keen dialogue and a strong voice. Finally, the stories on the whole are powerful, provocative and a pleasure to read. The title entry, in particular, is a minor masterpiece.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Karen Dinino on September 17, 2005
Format: Paperback
This collection of short stories will keep you awake thinking, or fearing your dreams, for days. Filled with characters you just might know, Simplify is precisely deep enough to still be fun. A great combination of humor and insight runs through these varied glimpses into the contradictions, chaos, and slapstick of life.
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This is a collection of twelve short stories.

*Each story is dark and the majority of them revolve around death.
*Each story delivers either a deep life lesson or a view of another person's life that will leave you pondering things that you have probably never thought of.

I am amazed at how well the author, Tod Goldberg, understands and is able to portray other people's thoughts and feelings. He tells the story of a messed up child, a suicidal man, a wealthy man with an empty life, a child growing into an adult, a dead child, and the brother of a killer. These are just some of the people that Mr. Goldberg takes the shape of.

Each story is written in a unique fashion. Within the first page, you will be sucked in by the unfolding of a foreign life that each story promises.

Some of the other reviews label it as sinister or evil. I didn't see it as either. Sorrowful? Maybe. Dark? Definitely. Sinister or evil? Not so much.

I'm not a big short story fan. I like stories that I can sink my teeth into for a period of time. I am the kind of person that never wants a good story to end. That being said, I loved this book. The stories allowed me to step into someone else's existence.

The stories make you dig deep and think.
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Picked up this volume of short stories in anticipation of hearing Tod Goldberg speak and was not disappointed one bit.

My favorite story is probably Simplify, the title story, though I really feel that every piece has that same kind of disturbing yet vital pulse. I don't know if I would describe this collection of stories as humorous or fun, though there might be a vein of very black humor underlying some of them. I think it's more like a very dexterous yet raw exploration of what would seem to be ordinary lives and situations, but that are in fact anything but.

Overall, the tone is incredible. Goldberg, I feel at least, really flirts on the edge of normality and sanity. I felt alternately sorry for and disturbed by his characters, even while I identified with them and could understand their emotional/mental responses, even as the stories themselves spiral into some jarring extremes.
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