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Sunstroke: Selected Stories Hardcover – January 21, 2002

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The 25 smoothly translated stories in this collection have the emotional depth of Chekhov and the inspired acuteness of Raymond Carver or John Cheever, making them truly ahead of their time: Bunin, the first Russian to win the Nobel Prize for Literature (in 1933), deserves renewed attention. A few of the book's shorter stories only a few pages each intensely portray moments of anger, love and pain to demonstrate larger truths about human behavior. "First Class" recreates the discomfort a group of upper-class passengers feel when a peasant enters their train compartment, freezing the juxtaposition of the passengers' disdain and the peasant's awkwardness like a snapshot. In the longer stories, small pains accumulate until they explode into tragic ironies. In "Raven," a young man develops an affection for a fetching nanny his father has hired, much to the father's dismay; the older man later marries the nanny. As a storyteller in "Ida" spins a tale of lost opportunity for romance, it becomes clear that the failure was his own. Other stories strip away characters' defenses with elegance and precision: the title story, for instance, describes a lieutenant's short-lived affair with a woman he meets on a cruise. When the affair ends, she ascribes their passion to a momentary sunstroke, leaving him heartbroken and spiritually lost. The plots of Bunin's stories are not necessarily original, but their force and animation never fail to surprise; a brief introduction by the translator serves to put the writer in historical context.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Bunin was the 1933 Nobel laureate in literature, the first Russian to achieve this honor. Yet unlike his contemporary Chekhov or his mentor Tolstoy, he has not been remembered; only a few of his short stories, e.g., "The Gentleman from San Francisco," which vividly limns the futility of life lived without soul, are regularly anthologized. This collection should go far to restore his reputation. Having studied art before becoming a writer, Bunin displays a painterly eye for detail. He is a master at capturing the moment, whether in "Summer Day," a short vignette about a peasant trying to train a dog, or in the longer story "In Paris," about the achingly brief romance between two Russian ‚migr‚s. Often, the stories describe romantic betrayal. In "Styopa," for instance, the narrator callously seduces and abandons an innkeeper's unprotected 14-year-old daughter, while in "Zoyka and Valeriya" it is the shy young guest Levitsky who is used by the capricious Valeriya. With their ability to penetrate the human condition in just a few phrases, Bunin's stories belong in all libraries. Andrea Kempf, Johnson Cty. Community Coll. Lib., Overland Park, KS
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 205 pages
  • Publisher: Ivan R. Dee (January 21, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1566634261
  • ISBN-13: 978-1566634267
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,161,932 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By J Scott Morrison HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on November 17, 2002
Format: Hardcover
American and English readers don't generally know the the works of Ivan Bunin, although educated Russians know and love his poetry and short stories, and often can quote them by heart. These stories, unobtrusively translated anew by Graham Hettlinger, vary in length from a couple of pages ('Summer Day', which neatly limns the cruelty arising from boredom) to the seventeen pages of Bunin's best known story, 'The Gentleman from San Francisco.' Most of them, some appearing in English for the first time, are really little more than sharply-etched vignettes which adroitly catch humanity in its variety; sometimes you'll catch your breath with the shock of recognition. If you respond to Chekhov's stories, you'll like these.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Midwest Book Review on April 10, 2002
Format: Hardcover
These selected short stories include Ivan Bunin's better known 'Gentleman from San Francisco' along with over twenty other newly-translated stories - some for the first time in English. Bunin's language is filled with sparkling descriptions and metaphors: vivid images fairly leap from the page as individuals and circumstances spring to life. His vivid descriptions are not to be missed.
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4 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Randy Keehn VINE VOICE on January 8, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is the second collection of short stories by Ivan Bunin that I have read. I'm not exactly sure what to make of him as an author. He's good but just how good may take me a few more volumes to discover. I enjoyed the stories in this book, by and large. I had the opportunity to read "The Gentleman from San Francisco" again and I did so mainly because I wasn't all that impressed with it the first time around. I came away this time with a continuing sense that it is an over-rated moral story on a subject that has often been handled better by others.

What struck me most was the erotic nature of so many of his stories. Bunin must have been something of a rake in his life (or else he has taken time to write down a lot of his fantasies). I must admit that he handled these tales of sexual encounters well although he lost me for much of "Zoyka and Valeriya". I especially enjoyed "Muza", "Rusya", "Antigone", "In Paris".

There are several other stories that are artfully done. I liked the wisdom to be found in "Old and Young", the irony of "The Hunchback's Affair" and "First Class" and the sadness of "Cold Fall".

These stories are rather short yet they convey a lot. I will be more than willing to read Bunin again because he is talented. However, I think one of the earlier reviewers was on the mark in suggesting that Bunin's award was politically motivated.
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5 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Jon L Albee VINE VOICE on September 9, 2002
Format: Hardcover
The Nobel Committee was not immune from political correctness in 1933, as the Literature Prize has been a political game for AT LEAST the last 50 years.

Bunin won the 1933 Nobel Prize for Literature, but we all know that the Literature prize is primarily a political statement (in this case against the Soviet Union that had banned Bunin's work). Bunin's stories are beautiful, lyrical, like poetry written in prose form. In fact, many of his shortest stories are nearly written in blank verse. However, there is a reason why Bunin is "underappreciated." His stories are highly melodramatic and frequently are artificially infused with explicit sentimentality. If Rachmaninoff had written short stories rather than piano concerti, this is how they would have looked. These stories lack the emotional and psychological subtlety of Chekhov and Turgenev, writers to whom Bunin is frequently compared. They are as socially reactionary as they are mushy: The story considered to be Bunin's masterpiece, "The Gentleman from San Francisco" is a patronizing fable about how the (particularly American) bourgeois habit of purchasing nobility is futile. It's like Citizen Kane with a nasty dose of anti-American bourgeoisie bashing. After all, Bunin believed that the nobility were the source of all good in Russia, and the American super-rich were nothing more than pretentious fools. Though the imagery can be lovely, you never get passed the idea that Bunin forced much of what he wrote for the good of the "people." He was an aristocratic artifact.

Beautiful, anti-American melodrama. That's what you get here.
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