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The Collected Stories of Deborah Eisenberg Paperback – March 30, 2010

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Eisenberg, like Alice Munro and Amy Hempl, is a short story specialist who infuses the concentrated form with emotional intricacy and depth, dark humor, suspense, and wonder. Fluent in the dreams, pretensions, and demands of New York City, Eisenberg writes with equal finesse about those who have succeeded in securing a place in the social order and floundering twentysomethings botching love and other opportunities. Eisenberg also knows how a small apartment can become a wilderness and how dangerous the isolation of a rural life can be. Her characters, especially betrayed women, curl themselves around their psychic wounds like hands cupped around a candle’s flame as the world churns on, assured, impatient, devouring. A MacArthur fellowship is Eisenberg’s most recent major award, and now readers are granted a boon: this glorious volume contains in their entirety Transactions in a Foreign Currency (1986), Under the 82nd Airborne (1992), All around Atlantis (1997), and Eisenberg’s most commanding collection, Twilight of the Superheroes (2006). An electrifying gathering of masterful tales of treachery and resilience, souls lost and found. --Donna Seaman


“One of America's finest storytellers has been anthologized: The Collected Stories of Deborah Eisenberg (Picador) locates elegant symmetries in uncertain lives navigating uncertain times.” ―VOGUE.com

“Sarcastic, self-aware, and often wickedly funny…. Perhaps the most compelling aspect of Eisenberg's stories is the ease with which she captures the fearful excitement of being human, and our reluctance to acknowledge how little our circumstances have to do with our own decisions.” ―Rachael Brown, TheAtlantic.com

“If you haven't discovered Deborah Eisenberg's beautifully crafted short stories, this is a good choice, because you will want to read and reread them all. These stories are rich and delicate, and linger in the memory to shift and amplify their values. Eisenberg's subtle, intelligent observations put readers in the best company.” ―Prairie Lights Bookstore

“What is it like to be a genius? Ask Deborah Eisenberg. The question is not as hyperbolic as it might seem; last year, Eisenberg was awarded a MacArthur fellowship, usually referred to as a ‘Genius Grant'. If that award served to spotlight Eisenberg's achievement as one of America's foremost writers of fiction, this new volume of collected stories confirms it, illustrating that over the past 25 years Eisenberg has become better and better at the things at which, 25 years ago, she was already something of a master….” ―Belinda McKeon, Irish Times

“This season, I chose four books of stories to read and recommend. At the top of my list--and highly recommended--is The Collected Stories of Deborah Eisenberg.” ―Ann LaFarge, Hudson Valley News


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 992 pages
  • Publisher: Picador; 1 edition (March 30, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312429894
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312429898
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.7 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #91,797 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Eisenberg is both a great and a limited writer. Her greatness is in her minute observation of moment-by-moment consciousness. When she gets into a character's mind, the reader shares every twist and turn as if it were his own. What I find most remarkable is that her characters frequently express states of consciousness I myself know but have never been able to articulate, or never knew I wanted to articulate because they are semi-conscious parts of my movements through everyday life, things I thought neither I nor anyone else could care about. Eisenberg makes you care because she shows even the most desultory states as luminous moments of human existence. No other writer makes boredom so interesting. There are a couple of passages in "Days," for example, that express those times I can't seem to get myself going even though I know I have to. Eisenberg does with with such precision I KNOW she's been hiding in my apartment, watching my every move and inhabiting my mental space. She does this over and over, though her main characters tend to be young, youngish or middle-aged women.

She's limited because she's not much on plot, if she can be said to have plots at all. This makes her writing go slack at times, almost as if she's marking time because she doesn't know where her narrative is heading. At her worst, she seems to stall with her characters, but after a few pages she gets them going again. Eisenberg is like Alice Munro in that she writes "long short stories" about characters who are similar. Munro is a better plotter, meaning she keeps her stories moving at a brisker pace. On the other hand, she doesn't quite have Eisenberg's Proustian vision into the personal worlds of her characters. Among contemporary writers, Eisenberg seems unique in this regard.
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Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This collection brings together in one volume stories from four previous collections: Transactions in a Foreign Currency (1986(, Under the 82nd Airborne (1992), All Around Atlantis (1997), and Twilight of the Superheroes (2006). Eisenberg has a distinguished pedigree: she is the recipient of a MacArthur Foundation Genius Grant and has received other awards and fellowships, and is professor of creative writing at the University of Virginia. Her work has been praised by practically every major publication, from the New York Times to the San Francisco Chronicle to Harper's to the Times of London. Critics have described her stories "concentrated bursts of perfection (London Times) and possessing "all the steely beauty of a knife wrapped in velvet" (Boston Globe). She's not just good, she's very good.

This is my first exposure to her fiction but it won't be my last. As a writer of short fiction, she is the equal or superior of any writer of short fiction today, and I include my longtime favorites Alice Munro and William Trevor. At 980 pages of stories, this compendium is a chunk. The reader who attempts to conquer it through brute force will be doing him or herself a disfavor. Eisenberg's stories deserve time and space between readings so the full shock value isn't attenuated.

The sections are, respectively, the four separate collections previously published of her stories.
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Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
One hardly knows how to describe a Deborah Eisenberg story, let alone this volume which brings together all five of her collections under a single cover. Adjectives like "exhilarating" or "dazzling" feel too light, too insubstantial to give the sense of the power and precision of her work. Others like "genius" have been so over used as to become common as crab grass and as such would feel like an insult to a writer who can fairly and without hyperbole be described as perhaps the best currently active American short story writer.

Eisenberg's stories aren't the minimalist sort that has gained so much traction in recent decades - her prose are weighty, the word bulky comes to mind. Many feel as if they might well be novels, yet the don't have the stripped down feel of other such stories - one doesn't get the sense of characters imprisoned by an author's commitment to the form, as if the shortness of the length were walls which they can't claw through to get to their real potential. No, Eisenberg's characters breathe in the moment.

Her stories, usually on the longish side at thirty plus pages, would rather meander a bit, often down tangents letting the reader gain an attachment to the character in a way that other practitioners of this form tend to eschew. As such they deliver a feeling of a being on a journey, the emotional baggage and humor giving them a heft which rests not on a single word or moment, no it is the flow of her character's relationships that carry the reader along, pulling us in their interior lives. As such, each story can at times feel exhausting, an emotional investment, making this collection a thing to be sipped, not gobbled, almost 1,000 page of prose to be digested slowly over weeks and months not hours, less one be left totally spent.
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