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The Lonely Voice: A Study of the Short Story Paperback – June 7, 2011

4.3 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"It's unsurprising that this book should prove so hardy: O'Connor was compelling when voicing an opinion. What Richard Ellmann calls the "assumptive tone" of his criticism can inspire, thrill and infuriate, but will never bore." —The Guardian

“A dazzling and provocative introduction to talking about what people do when they sit down to write short stories.” —from the introduction by Russell Banks

“This is a brilliant book on a subject about which little has been written. It carries, besides, the authority a critical work always possesses when its author is a distinguished practitioner of the art he is criticizing.”  —The New York Times Book Review

About the Author

Frank O'Connor is widely recognized as one of Ireland’s greatest writers and cultural figures. He lived in the United States off and on after 1952, teaching at Harvard and Stanford, and writing stories for The New Yorker magazine. His most popular works include his Collected Stories, Guest of the Nation, and An Only Child.

Russell Banks is the author of sixteen works of fiction. He has received numerous international prizes, and two of his novels— The Sweet Hereafter and Affliction—have been made into award-
winning films. Banks lives in upstate New York.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Melville House (June 7, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1935554425
  • ISBN-13: 978-1935554424
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #362,212 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Since this little volume first appeared in 1963, there probably hasn't been a single book written on the topic of the short story that doesn't make some mention of it.

O'Connor was a noted short story writer in his own right as well as an essayist and literary critic. His central premise in this book, that short stories tend to arise out of "submerged populations" (i.e., minority groups, immigrants, etc.) may not have gained wide acceptance in academic circles, but that doesn't diminish the interest or the charm of this book in the least. It's a thoroughly fascinating examination of the short story as an art form, and a rollicking fun read to boot.

Much of the "fun" part comes from O'Connor's unabashed and delightfully expressed opinions. Here he is on one of Ernest Hemingway's short story classics:
"In 'The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber' Francis runs away from a lion, which is what most sensible men would do if faced by a lion, and his wife promptly cuckolds him with the English manager of their big-game hunting expedition. As we all know, good wives admire nothing in a husband except his capacity to deal with lions, so we can sympathize with the poor woman in her trouble. [...] To say that the psychology of this story is childish would be to waste good words. [...] Clearly, it is the working out of a personal problem that for the vast majority of men and women has no validity whatever."

This may not represent the consensus opinion on Hemingway's story, but what fun it is to see someone stand up to the old pugilist and tweak his nose!

This is not to say that all of O'Connor's comments are snarky; he freely calls other Hemingway stories works of genius. And he bubbles over with enthusiasm when discussing many, many other authors as well.
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Format: Paperback
This is a classic study of the short story. It is literary theory at its best, intelligent, insightful and yet readable. This is not a book on how to write short stories rather it is a exploration and study of the genre.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Highly recommended for all lovers of the short story. O'Connor was a gift from Ireland.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A recommendation of my favorite English Lit professor. It has taken more than thirty years for me to find a copy!
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