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Sweet Talk [Paperback]

Stephanie Vaughn
4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)

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Book Description

February 28, 2012
Stephanie Vaughn is a writer’s writer, one whose debut collection of stories, Sweet Talk, was published more than two decades ago to critical acclaim. Readers have come to these stories over the years through word of mouth, posting glowing reviews to their Goodreads pages and on their blogs—unanimously agreeing that this collection is a modern classic that deserves to be in print. Crafted in graceful, honest prose, Vaughn’s stories go straight to the heart of how people live, grow and survive.

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

"Every so often that dead dog dreams me up again." This arresting image opens "Dog Heaven," the final story in an accomplished first collection by a young writer whose work has appeared in the New Yorker. Vaughn writes mainly in a wry, undistanced first-person voice, creating imaginative language for recognizable young women in varying circumstances and careers. The narrator of "We're on TV in the Universe" crashes into a patrol car in winter, looks up at the arriving policeman and sees "the crazed lights on the top of his car slinging snowfish around his head." In "The Architecture of California" a young wife comes to understand that her husband has made her best friend pregnant. A comparable unfaithfulness is at the heart of "Other Women," while "Snow Angel" tells of a young mother, trapped in the house with her two children during a three-day snowstorm, who manages--just--to keep her sanity and faith with her kids. Most powerful are the stories about Gemma, including "Kid MacArthur" and "Able, Baker, Charlie, Dog" in which Vaughn's clear-eyed, scalpel-sharp and affectionate observations of a distinctive childhood are delivered in graceful, honest prose.
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Library Journal

Five of the ten stories in Vaughn's collection are memory stories of her family. Filled with ambient light, eloquent in content and execution, they are about Gemma, who tells us "I grew up in the army," and her officer father, who like Vaughn's was stationed with his family at various army posts in the United States and abroad. In these stories Vaughn counterpoints the innocence and egocentricity of childhood with the understanding of an adult looking backwards, finally grasping what was happening, finally understanding that though her father was a tall man who loomed large over her childhood he was a failure. Vaughn's family stories are interspersed with stories about a grown woman, presumably Gemma. These stories are very contemporary in their contemplation of the loss of love, of errors in judgment, of the randomness of life, but they lack the luminosity of the family stories.
- Marcia Tager, Tenafly, N.J.
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Other Press; Reprint edition (February 28, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1590515161
  • ISBN-13: 978-1590515167
  • Product Dimensions: 0.7 x 5 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #296,885 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5 stars
4.9 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Haunting Masterpiece March 9, 2001
By A Customer
This is a collection of loosely connected stories about a young woman in contemporary America. All of the stories are outstanding, but one in particular, "Dog Heaven," is a masterpiece. I've read this story at least half a dozen times, and each time I read it, I'm moved to tears, and love it more. It's a story about a dog, of course; but also a story of the friendship of three young people. American writers excel at the short story, and "Dog Heaven" is one of the best stories ever written by an American.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars In case you forgot that short stories can change your life September 30, 2008
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Able, Baker, Charlie, Dog should be in every anthology. I was at a reception for Shannon Ravenel, the long time editor of the Best American Short Stories series (for about 17 years) and was fortunate enough to be able to speak with her for a few minutes. She singled out two stories from this collection (Able, Baker, Charlie, Dog & Dog Heaven) as genius. Keep in mind that the editor of the series reads about 10,000 (no exaggeration)/year and then consider how memorable memorable has to be. You should pick this book up immediately.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant writing, hard and poignant stories September 4, 1998
By A Customer
I read this collection of amazing stories when it first came out, and have just read it again, and the stories bite even harder than the first time! The stories are sad, tough, and funnier than hell. I wish to see another book published by this gifted Stephanie Vaughn. She has so much to say -- and says it so very, very well.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Cheers for Stephanie Vaughn February 16, 2011
"Sweet Talk" is the best collection of short stories I have read in many years. The author's eye for language and detail, her utter mastery of metaphor and her ability to create a world out of details that many others would discard are gifts to be enjoyed and cherished. "Able, Baker, Charlie, Dog" drew me in but her other stories are just as impressive.

"We're On TV In The Universe" turns a winter accident into an absurdist contemplation of blind happenstance and "My Mother Breathing Light" describes the facts of identity and familial bonds in entirely new ways. Vaughn is a master of the short story and nothing less. She does not care about coming across a certain way. She simply tells the truth in ways that cannot be forgotten. Her style is insightful, comic at times, vividly aware, quiet, contemplative and full of the moment to moment awareness of the pain that everyone carries.

She creates compact and vibrant worlds in a short space and gives the best that may be hoped for consistently.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars excellent ten story collection February 28, 2012
This is a reprint of an excellent ten story collection first published as an anthology in 1990. Many of the entries deal with childhood, family and dogs who are key family members even after they go onto "Dog Heaven" ("Kid MacArthur" and the classic "Able, Baker, Charlie, Dog"). Others focus on young women dealing with issues like infidelity as an upset woman realizes her spouse impregnated her BFF in ``The Architecture of California'' and cheating is the norm for "Other Women." In "Snow Angel," a snowstorm traps a mother with no escape from her two children and in wintry weather a driver crashes into a police car musing "We're on TV in the Universe." This is a strong collection throughout summed up nicely by an extended family identity in "My Mother Breathing Light."

Harriet Klausner
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