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Something in My Eye: Stories (Mary McCarthy Prize in Short Fiction) Paperback – January 31, 2012

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Editorial Reviews

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"Ten of the 15 stories in this collection were previously published in literary journals and anthologies. Lee’s stories are intriguing and highly original, with a bent toward the weird, both in character and worldview. He is a master of voice, portraying the lives of men who are lost, lonely, and disturbed. He also has a penchant for the telling phrase. This line from the title story gives a taste of the narrator’s despair: 'I came from a place of no history to a place where history has no place for me.' His stories display the kind of humor that produces laughs and guilt at the same time. Lee’s chosen techniques are often brilliant. For the story 'Contemporary Country Music,' about a war veteran’s first night home from the war, Lee uses five voices, but all the narration is in the second person, and the result is a tour de force of short fiction writing. The work of a promising author worth watching, this collection belongs in any library with a short-fiction readership."
—Ellen Loughran, Booklist

“Reading Lee’s debut collection feels a bit like watching a black-and-white film by Jim Jarmusch. In both cases, down-and-out characters with odd, off-kilter ways of verbalizing their experience are filtered through the lens of a narrator/director who could very well have “something in his eye.”
—Sue Russell, Library Journal

“The range of genres is wide, with satires of country music lyrics, Kafkaesque parables about the anxiety of the living to avoid death, and a disturbing dialogue between a murderer in hell and his victim in heaven. . . . Lee is very successful in creating a dream-like, emotionally disconnected state throughout, with intentionally stilted dialogue and plots that tend to revolve around forms of symbolic gestures, physical violence, or sexual deviance.”
Publisher’s Weekly

“Lee also utilizes a variety of structures that, once encountered, you can’t imagine the story told any other way.”
—S. Hope Mills, ForeWord Reviews

“I was drawn to Michael Jeffrey Lee’s line-up of loners and drifters, imperiled children and haunted psychos neither because I want to hang out with these bad boys, nor because I plan to cross the street when I see them coming, but because the invitation to inhabit their minds, to see the world through their eyes, and to watch their often unsettling stories play out in space and time enables Lee to do all sorts of extremely interesting things with consciousness and language.”
—Francine Prose

I am scared by these stories. But, as Jean Cocteau’s Belle tells her Beast, J’aime avoir peur. I like to be scared. These dark and beautiful tales offer a terrible thrill, a creepy adventure into the land of fairy-tale madmen. In Lee’s world, they’re just some bummed out regular guys, rendered in the most mealy and exquisite prose. I like to be scared by them, by this talent.
—Kate Bernheimer

"Relevant, startling and irresistible, Michael Lee's own unique brand of black humor makes for an extraordinary experience."
—Rikki Ducornet
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Product Details

  • Series: Mary McCarthy Prize in Short Fiction
  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Sarabande Books; Original edition (January 31, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1936747057
  • ISBN-13: 978-1936747054
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.5 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,088,724 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By reader on March 31, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Having had the chance to read it all the way through, I believe this is a very humorous and ambitious book. To call it Beckett-like, like the back cover says, is to not even go halfway in its description. It is also timely southern fiction, mostly set in New Orleans, and I'd say most of these stories push the short story form to its furthest point (some perhaps break it completely)..

I most enjoy these stories: The Buddy, New Year's Eve, I Shall Not Be Moved, and Didactic Tales--which are satiric religious/Kafkaesque parables.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By James Fenwicke on August 5, 2012
Format: Paperback
I cannot think of a short story collection that does such interesting things with narrative that has been written recently. There were some moments in Something in my Eye that made me laugh aloud (sometimes in public!) and others that caused me wonder about about the curious gravity of living in post-Katrina New Orleans. Michael Lee's lyrical panache compelled me to keep reading and I found myself continually entranced sentence after sentence, for pretty much all of it.

I carefully poured through this one a few months ago, and wish I could remember more of the twists and turns of each story. I recall a few funny and sticky situations that might make a reader wriggle in their chair slightly, but found the sensational aspect of it more interesting than a writer like J.G. Ballard.

If you appreciate John Carpenter or David Lynch you are in for a treat, and if not, you could very well be pleasantly surprised!

Highly recommend!! Probably the best of 2012 for me
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