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Starting Over: Stories
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27 of 27 people found the following review helpful
on December 23, 2013
It says something when an author can boast that they have been writing for seven decades. Seven, folks. Elizabeth Spencer creates a nearly perfect set of short stories with Starting Over: Stories. Some of these stories broke my heart, moved me to tears, and made me put the book down out of sheer self-preservation. I’m a fairly recent convert to the power of the short story (by recent, I mean within the last few years) so for a collection to move me as deeply as some of these stories moved me…well, let me just say that it doesn’t happen as often as I like. Had I read a collection like this during my years of “not-a-fan of short stories,” I think I may have had a come to Jesus moment a little sooner.

There are quite a few solid stories in Spencer’s collection, but I want to talk the most about a particular story. ”Sightings” is a story about a young girl who has come to visit a father who she has partially blinded. During her time with her father, very little comes out. Actually, very little comes out in the entire story. However, Spencer uses tension and some really deft writing to make her reader understand what is fully going on here.

Spencer’s grasp on the intricacies of writing from different viewpoints and of portraying each character in a way that is true to not only themselves in the story, but transcends the story to read life, is something that should be marveled at. During “Sightings,” I felt like I was there, in the story. It was a shock to see it come to an end because I had become so invested in such a short time period. This story alone makes the collection worth owning – but don’t let me talking about just one story convince you that there aren’t also other worthy stories inside.

I think this book is one that would appeal to both the short-story lover and the reader who just wants to finally “get” what short-stories are about. Spencer writes in such a way that I never felt as if the portraits were over my head and I found myself often making friends within the few pages allotted to each story. Starting Over: Stories is definitely one to be watching for.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
TOP 100 REVIEWERon January 13, 2014
“Starting Over: Stories” written by Elizabeth Spencer is well-made collection of stories that manages to show how with a skilled author much can be said in this short literary form.

Elizabeth Spencer is present on the literary scene for almost seventy years, though already her first work attracted the attention - since then, all of her fifteen published works during her fruitful career managed to equally attract the attention of critics and readers.

In “Starting Over” anthology she brought nine new stories none of which have more than 30 pages, and some of them only a few, and regardless of that fact after reading each you’ll be lost in your thoughts for some time being unable to proceed with the next.
Although relatively short, this collection with just over 200 pages, it will be difficult to read in one reading, moreover, I don’t suggest to do that because with its themes and style, the author manages to cause a lot of different strong emotions that would be good to settle down before you continue reading the following story – that’s especially true for some that are very sad.

The theme that runs through all the stories are the things often hidden behind the facade of happy and harmonious families, small secrets that are known only to those who live in them.
The strongest impression in my case left the story “Sightings” that brings the story of daughter who is coming back home to her father who accidentally became blinded during the sad divorce from her mother. In the story less than a 20-page long reader won’t learn much about what happened, but for what you will find out, thanks to the author's style will be enough to be completely drawn into this painful story.

“Starting Over: Stories” although delivers intense, and often sad feelings to the reader, it’s certainly a treat for lovers of short stories format – therefore, those who have not read her earlier works after finishing the last page of this anthology will be certainly interested about the novels and stories Elizabeth Spencer had also wrote during her long writing career.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on February 14, 2014
Elizabeth spencer is a wonderful story teller, but the writing is at times difficult to follow. I recommend this collection of short stories, but with reservations.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on March 28, 2014
After hearing the hype on NPR, I considered STARTING OVER a must read. Elizabeth Spencer is good, but to say that she is in the same league with Eudora Welty and Flannery O'Conner is off the mark. Still, the collection is worth your time.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on January 24, 2014
Per columnist D.G. Martin. Author Elizabeth Spencer is 92 years old and best know of her works is "The Light in the Piazza "which was made into a movie in 1962 and more recently the basis of a Broadway musical. Starting over is a collection of 10 individual stories. Excellent read at any age.
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on July 10, 2015
beautifully wrritten, subtle, a definitr Souuthern atmosphere, and comfortable melancholy...referneces to Southern relatives and customes, and food...I am a Southener, as you might have guessed...quiet . and brl;ievablre universal situations thank you.
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on May 31, 2015
The author populates her stories with very individual people who live lives of quiet desperation mixed with uplifting moments of joy. Her terse prose is compelling and her insights into human nature cause reflection.
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on June 14, 2015
Wonderfully written characters, drawing on Southern family life. Author uses seemingly simple memories or actions to create significant insights into relationships in families and, particularly, between spouses.
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on August 30, 2015
Lovely collection of short stories. They have a decidedly "southern" voice. Short stories are not my favorite genre, novels are, but these stories give one the feeling of reading about members of a clan.
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on January 5, 2015
These are all really wonderful stories. I don't like short stories as much as moves because they end to soon but this was still the perfect before bed reading. Elizabeth Spencer writes beautifully.
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