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The Bigness of the World: Stories Hardcover – October 15, 2009
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From Publishers Weekly
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The Bigness of the World is simply a stunning collection―every story jewel-crafted and resonant. I read stories to meet people I do not know and have not imagined, but even in that context Lori Ostlund’s people are unique. I begin by thinking that I know these characters or have known them. And then somewhere along the way, they shape-shift and startle me. Over and over again I find myself looking at the world from a fresh perspective―this sharp-eyed, compassionate writer’s rendering of the world I thought I knew. This is a book to remake our imaginary landscape―the kind of book I not only recommend, I advocate. Read this, I want to tell people. You need these stories. You do.(Dorothy Allison author of Bastard Out of Carolina and Trash)
These sly stories are funny and unpredictable and graced with priceless details you'll carry with you long after the last page is turned. Whether charting the loneliness of youth, or tracing the emotional upheavals of lovers abroad, Ostlund proves to be a wise, charming, and irresistible guide.(Eric Puchner author of Music Through the Floor: Stories)
Witty and sharp, Ostlund has crafted eleven surprising and often very funny tales that remind us just how vast the world really is.(Booklist)
Ostlund’s artful prose is playfully complex and illuminating, evocative and unsentimental. . . . Each piece is sublime.(Publishers Weekly)
Lori Ostlund told an interviewer that short stories have always come natural to her. These precise explorations of longing and loss show that she is already a master of that demanding form.(Magill Book Reviews)
Insights that arrive too late fill these resonant tales―of abandoned lovers, neglected children, and travelers in foreign lands.(Coastal Living)
The Bigness of the World wastes no time in establishing Ostlund as one of the new front-runners in Bay Area short fiction.(San Francisco Magazine)
The characters in Ostlund's book are a picky breed, which is not to say they are unlikeable - to the contrary, they are so well-defined that the reader cannot help but find companionship in their annoyances, their frustrations, their search for meaning in a disparate world . . . The Bigness of the World is an impressive first collection, and I am excited to see what Lori Ostlund does next.(Kasey Pfab The Corresponder)
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Top Customer Reviews
alone, the stories are without peer. but as a collection, i cannot fully recommend it. this is an award winning collection, so i expected much more variety in stories while retaining an overall cohesiveness. but this was cohesive to the point of nigh repetition.Read more ›
Like a few of the other books I reviewed of late, I discovered Lori Outland's "The Bigness of the World" (The University of Georgia Press, 2009) as a result of its being nominated as a Lambda Literary Award finalist. This work also received the prestigious Flannery O'Connor Award for Short Fiction in 2008, which resulted in its publication by the University of Georgia Press.
Let me say it outright: this book is such a good read that I am a wee bit afraid that I might smother it with praise! For praise it deserves. Ms. Ostlund, who I will dub as a consummate wordsmith, has the ability to instantly draw you into each story with such precision and ease that you might actually think this is your world too. Let me explain. Every story feels like it is being told to you by someone you know, someone you've know or thought about, or better still, someone you think you'd like to know.
It is obvious that her experience as a teacher in Spain, Malaysia and New Mexico becomes the canvass on which she paints her simple and oftentimes touching pictures of people and how they transact life, not only with each other, but with the world at large.
The title story opens the book, and we are introduced to Martin and Veronica. He is ten, (a number that reappears often in the stories), and she is eleven, going on twelve. These two delightfully precocious children live in a household with parents who are busily engaged in activities that, to their children, seem "nebulous at best".
Because the parents are rarely home, the two children are put under the care of Ilsa Maria Lumpkin. The children adore her, and love her amusingly idiosyncratic ways.Read more ›
Contents include: The Bigness of the World; Bed Death; Talking Fowl with My Father; The Day You Were Born; Nobody Walks to the Mennonites; Upon Completion of Baldness; And Down We Went; Idyllic Little Bali; Dr. Daneau’s Punishment; The Children Beneath the Seat; All Boy; an Excerpt from 'After the Parade.'
Common themes presented are emotional isolation and reserve, separation, complex and deteriorating relationships, disappointments, the loss of love, and the pain of loss. Many of the damaged relationships depicted are either between two women or children and parents. In many stories the women involved are teaching in foreign countries. There is a similarity in the characters and the circumstances in several of the stories which can feel repetitive.
All of the stories are exquisitely well written but, honestly, all of the stories are also profoundly sad, or at least they left me feeling sad and reflecting on the loss and isolation that is present in these fragile lives. It might behoove the reader to take these little gems one at a time, and take a break between reading them. An excellent collection, but the emotional heaviness it leaves you with begs considering refraining from reading them all at once.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A wonderful collection of short stories.
This book is a perfect choice for a BR.
Because it delivers a SUBSTANCE, it gives you so many topics to discuss and thinking... Read more
There are few short story collections that have impressed and moved me as much as Lori Ostlund's did. "The Bigness of the World" is a gem. Read morePublished 20 months ago by Dallas Woodburn
The stories are moving even though many of them are about sad and lonely people. The writing is very good.Published on November 11, 2013 by Dr Helen Mendes Love, MSW
but, I decided to give this award winner a try. I think my main objection to short stories is that not much can happen in a 20 page story. Read morePublished on May 20, 2013 by Halesr
I bought this book because of the stunning O'Henry winning, "Bed Death." Ostlund is a very good writer with a wry and wise approach. Read morePublished on July 12, 2012 by Pamela Malone