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The Edge of Marriage: Stories Hardcover – October, 1999


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 192 pages
  • Publisher: University of Georgia Press; 1ST edition (October 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0820321486
  • ISBN-13: 978-0820321486
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.6 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,531,648 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Family is a serious business. For Hester Kaplan, whose powerful, psychologically acute stories are collected in the Flannery O'Connor Award-winning The Edge of Marriage, familial bonds are so final that they make words such as "love" and "commitment" seem almost trivial. Although the author writes mostly about enduring, stable relationships, her characters nonetheless find themselves in emotional free fall. In "From Where We've Fallen" a couple struggles to cope with the return of their grown but unstable son; the daughter in "Goodwill" searches for the secrets she imagines must lie hidden in her dead mother's closet; in the title story, a husband loses himself in the vastness of his wife's grief after the death of her best friend. Several of these tales tap unlikely affections: the husband of "Claude Comes and Goes" mourns his wife's former lover, while in "Cuckle Me," a middle-aged woman hired to care for an 85-year-old man finds herself surprised by a love that's no less powerful because it's inspired by death: "We understood something then, that old men die soon, and each day had to become as full, as thick and colorful as paintings lit by candlelight."

Kaplan writes a quiet, often somber prose studded with lovely images. In "Goodwill," a homeless man walks away wearing the dead woman's clothes under his own, "the bottom of my mother's green coat flapping behind him like the tail feathers of a bird." But her greatest achievement here is her unsentimental, less-than-tender portrait of marriage. The husband of the title story, for instance, takes fright rather than comfort from the fact that he and his wife have each other--and only each other: "I felt a terrible panic then, that here in front of me was the rest of my life, that I would be with this woman forever, because I loved her, because this is what I would do certainly, because not being with her was never an option...." The edge of marriage, Kaplan suggests, is the place we come to when the rest of our lives have been stripped away--and what we find there has as much to do with mortality as it does with love. --Chloe Byrne

From Library Journal

"He's a man with a disease, out of control sometimes, sometimes hateful, he knows, but forgiven." Such is the tenor of these stories by Kaplan, whose Flannery O'Connor Award-winning collection is suffused with illness and resentment yet tempered with hope. Mostly told in the first person, these stories have an almost uncomfortably intimate quality. In one, a man who has lost a hand in a car accident fears that he will loose the other. A woman sorts through her dead mother's clothes, reflecting on how little she really knew her. And in the title story, a husband watches with anguish as his wife suffers a breakdown after the death of her friend. Though the stories are full of betrayal and defeat, they are elegantly written. Taut yet smooth, they are a glass surface reflecting emotional tension, complex relationships, and somber reality. A worthy addition to all public libraries.AYvette Weller Olson, City Univ. Lib., Renton, WA
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

More About the Author

Hester Kaplan is the daughter of two writers. She vowed she would never be a writer herself.
Four books later . . .
Hester writes, publishes, edits, and teaches. She is hard at work on a new project--three novellas about the end of the world. She loves to visit book groups, so ask her to visit yours!

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 19 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 8, 1999
Format: Hardcover
For the most part I have "given up" on contemporary short story collections. So often the stories are so similar and just one or two really "hit the mark." Hester Kaplan's book has stunned me. Every story leaves me breathless. I go back to read sentences over and over. Each story has had tremendous impact on me, reached me in such profound ways. The title story is incredible for getting into a man's head in trying to deal with his wife's breakdown after the death of her closest friend. The early part of the story said better than anything I've ever read how important women are to each other in a way that is quite different from how men are with each other. I'm writing this short review in hopes that Hester Kaplan will know how wonderful I think the book is. And I'm recommending it to my friends.
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 10, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Usually by the time I'm halfway through a book of short stories, I lose interest and lunge for a novel. But this collection had me spellbound. Kaplan does a great job of entering the male head, of incorporating physical infirmity into plot and character. I was dazzled.
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 28, 2003
Format: Paperback
Amazing. I usually can't stand short-stories, but trheis collection was different. I could really associate some of these stories to my real life. Kaplan did a tremendous job.
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0 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 12, 2003
Format: Paperback
Kaplan is a decent but not great writer and some intensive revision and editing would help greatly. I'm an avid story reader who regards short stories as the chocolate on my pillow. But when they are not up to snuff, I get mad. John Cheeve said he was continually working to edit cliche phrases from his work. Kaplan should heed that advice with a ruthless knife. For example in her first story, people "suddenly remember' 'push doors open' and one character 'tilts her head.' These are out of cliche writing 101. They impale us with mediocrity and they degrade the punch of the narrative. She has less overt problems, for example, "Walt pushes the play button on his recorder, sits in his armchair the cat has scratched bare, and listens." We become confused as to her emphasis, and when combined with mundane description the sentence falls flat, it's dull, insipid. She needs to pare this stuff down, to set up descriptions so they validate the forward movement of the plot. Furthermore, I never understand how authors can ignore wordplay and spectacular usage. He merely sits? He merely pushes? The armchair is scratched bare? Bare? These are basic descriptions lacking both careful observation and imaginative word usage. If you want spectacular stories, head to Chekov, Nabokov, Will Self (flawed but fun), Lardner, Cheever, and Carver. Skip this one.
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