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The Greatest Show: Stories (Yellow Shoe Fiction) Paperback – March 15, 2012


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Product Details

  • Series: Yellow Shoe Fiction
  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Louisiana State University Press (March 15, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0807144525
  • ISBN-13: 978-0807144527
  • Product Dimensions: 8.7 x 5.5 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,733,112 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"... an auspicious fiction debut from a marvelously talented writer." -- Foreword Magazine
"Intricately woven." -- The Rumpus
"... brilliantly uses the focused format of the short story to capture the small details of everyday life." -- Baltimore Book Talk

''Brilliant as individual pieces, these stories when read together are a revelation. The Greatest Show is the work of a mature, compassionate, incisive writer with a talent for discovering strange surprises at the periphery of tragedy.'' --Sheri Joseph, author of Stray and Bear Me Safely Over

''Though each story stands alone in scope and power, the larger portrait of a community bound and propelled by fate--specifically, a catastrophic circus fire--is a stellar, magical achievement. The Greatest Show is a fantastically conceived, compelling book.'' --Sabina Murray, author of The Caprices and Tales of the New World

''As he did in his fine nonfiction, House of Good Hope, Michael Downs has penned a heartbreaking paean to Hartford, an overlooked American city, using its circus fire as a starting point. Having begun his career at the Courant, the author is quickly staking his claim as this capital's William Kennedy.'' --Stewart O Nan, author of Emily, Alone and The Circus Fire: A True Story of an American Tragedy

About the Author

Michael Downs, a native of Hartford, Connecticut, is the author of House of Good Hope: A Promise for a Broken City, which won the River Teeth Literary Nonfiction Prize. A recipient of a literary fiction fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, he lives in Baltimore, Maryland, and is an assistant professor of English at Towson University.

More About the Author

Born in Hartford, Connecticut, Michael Downs won third-place in an all-comers writing contest at Naubuc Elementary School for his story "The Day the World Went Poof." Encouraged, he's kept writing--from homemade comic books for friends to newspaper reports on college basketball games to reviews of restaurants that serve too much fried food. When he studied literary writing, he was fortunate to have a mentor who told him, "we write from where we get the wound," which led Downs to focus on his hometown. The results include HOUSE OF GOOD HOPE: A PROMISE FOR A BROKEN CITY, which won the River Teeth Literary Nonfiction Prize, and THE GREATEST SHOW, a story collection (LSU Press, 2012). He has won literary fiction fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Maryland State Arts Council, and he has published stories in the Best American Mystery Stories series (2001, 2002). He teaches creative writing at Towson University in Maryland and lives in Baltimore.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By J. Passe on April 22, 2012
Format: Paperback
This collection of stories delves into the world of survivors -- people with all sorts of scars, making their way through life as best they can. Some of the scenes are so tenderly realized that you will suddenly be aware that you've held your breath for several paragraphs. As in life, amidst all the sadness, there is humor and insight and many surprises.

Each story stands alone, so much so that I had to take a break before starting the next one. But they connect to each other just enough so that the reader can recognize an old friend coming into focus bringing context and depth to the tale that's being told. Downs uses several narrators, with each voice sounding so authentic that it's easy to forget that he is not a circus roustabout or a troubled teenage girl, but just a terrific writer.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Jessica Anya Blau, author, THE WONDER BREAD SUMMER on March 19, 2012
Format: Paperback
These stories will sweep you away. Michael Downs writes like he's from another time and place--his prose is magical and transcendent. You will not forget this book.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Laurynn on April 19, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
If you like simplicity and real characters, you will love this collection of short stories. The way Downs resurrects characters from story to story, juxtaposing them, while moving further in time creates the continuity of a novel. While the book is based on events stemming from a circus fire, the focus is on the characters, which are real, honest, flawed, believable, and unique. I would recommend this collection to anyone. And no, it's not just another novel about a circus!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Judith H. Scarmuzzi on February 18, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
I have had this book for a while and finally read it, and I am glad I did. It is about the circus fire in Hartford and the aftermath, short stories all woven together with a common thread. Each character in one story related somehow to the next. I felt the pain of the mother, the loneliness of the forgotten daughter and sister, the joy of falling in love and the realization that what was once big becomes diminished over time. I sometimes had to take a step back to remember how this person was related to the others, but found what I really wanted to know was what had happened to the characters that had only a chapter. I wish I had read this earlier.
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