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The EXPENDABLES: STORIES Paperback – February 18, 1999

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Scribner; 1st Scribner pbk. fiction ed edition (February 18, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0684846853
  • ISBN-13: 978-0684846859
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.4 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.7 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,545,702 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Winner of the Flannery O'Connor Award for Short Fiction, the Nelson Algren Award and a PEN Syndicated Fiction Award, Nelson makes a vivid and exciting debut with this short-story collection. In the dozen entries here, we meet characters who negotiate intricate pathways through the adversity, loneliness, sadness and ironies of human relations. The bonds of marriage are scrutinized throughout, against settings that range from Atlanta to Chicago to a Colorado canyon. In the title work, the narrator is a teenage boy from a family "Catholic only in theory and size," who parks cars at his sister's wedding to Chris the Sicilian. When the event ends in chaos he finds himself identifying with his father: "I was him, I was my father and his life was happening to me. I was a man looking out at a neighborhood gone not bad, but askew, with cyclone fences and Gypsies and shootings at weddings." Two stories, "Mud Season" and "Looking for Tower Hall," concern the same family coping with the death of a daughter. The mother, Lois, looks perpetually for meaning: "Lois believed in human interest stories in the newspaper the way she believed in dreams. She was susceptible to both, drawn to their messages, which she took almost entirely at face value." In writing that is both charming and intelligent, Nelson displays a fresh and distinctive talent.
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

In this collection's title story the narrator, parking cars at his sister's second wedding, is struck by the notion that everyone at the wedding is expendable, an idea that has occurred to him before. "I would get it riding the El or standing around in a department store or in the waiting room at the doctor's. A group like that could vanish from the face of the earth and nobody'd notice." Although the characters in Nelson's stories are intimately connected to family, lovers, and friends, they not only feel expendable but are somehow outside the relationships that bind them. The stories that emerge are candid snapshots of the lifestyle and mind set of Americans in 1989. They are studies of people trapped inside themselves, struggling to deal with love, death, and disaffection.
- Marcia Tager, Tenafly, N.J.
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

Antonya Nelson is the author of seven short story collections and four novels. She teaches creative writing at the University of Houston and in the Warren Wilson MFA Program. Her awards include the Rea Award for Short Fiction, Guggenheim and NEA Fellowships, and an American Artists Award. She lives in Telluride, Colorado, Las Cruces, New Mexico, and Houston, Texas.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Dan Witte on August 6, 1999
Format: Paperback
Antonya Nelson's short stories are provocative and entertaining because they tell us a great deal about ourselves, both in terms of the way that her characters' actions and reactions mirror our own, as well as in how we respond to the situations and characters we encounter in her work. Her stories are populated by characters who seem damaged yet strong, whose actions and dialogue convey more to us than we may consciously realize. Antonya Nelson's gift is her ability to create realistic and compelling stories without the use of gimmicky or contrived hooks, and to keep her stories moving forward on the strength of her vividly drawn characters and their unique and all-too-human motivations. My personal favorites in this collection are "Dog Problems," in which a husband deals with the possibility that his wife loves her dog more than him, and the title story, "The Expendables," which remains with me the way that Flannery O'Connor's and Joyce Carol Oates's best short stories stay with me: like a haunting but pleasant refrain that won't stop replaying itself in my head. In this story we visit the scene of a wedding, and follow one of the the bride's brothers as he encounters his relatives, his future brother-in-law, and a gypsy family down the street in the midst of a funeral service. It is absolutely one of the best short stories of the 20th century, and helps to justify Antonya Nelson's selection by The New Yorker as one of the most important young writers in America today. I'm tempted to say that this is contemporary short fiction at its best, except that these stories would stand out regardless of when they were published -- which makes them not so much contemporary as timeless.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Robert H. Nunnally Jr. on November 25, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Antonya Nelson's stories dwell on relationships, and particular the day to day failure of relationships. The collection largely avoids reaching for trite conclusions, and also avoids the forced ambiguity that sinks many a creative writing professor trying to write about "normal" people. Almost every story is involving, only one or two descend into situations which seem too contrived. This collection is a pleasure to read--engaging, and by design somewhat small in focus.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By CoffeeGurl HALL OF FAME on October 3, 2004
Format: Paperback
Having read Female Trouble, I looked forward to reading another short-story collection by Antonya Nelson. The Expendables is as memorable as Female Trouble in the way Nelson delves into human relationships. Most of the stories here deal with marriage and the various aspects of the same. Ms. Nelson's stories are dark and profound and almost as good as Joyce Carol Oates's work. My favorite stories are "Mud Season," "Dog Problems," "Affair Life," and "The Expendables." Each story is full of prose, insight and thought-provoking messages. Antonya Nelson is now on my list of favorite short-story writers. I shall read more of her stuff in the future.
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