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Transactions in a Foreign Currency Hardcover – February 12, 1986

4 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Written in the first person and in a clear voice distinguished by a curiously plaintive bravado, these seven distinctive stories all concern a personality seeking to assert, or possibly find, itself. After a frightening visit to an eye doctor, teenager Charlotte wanders into a bar for a Coke and encounters older, sophisticated Chris, involving herself in a relationship that will undermine her already fragile self-perception. The same Charlotte, now in her 20s, in flight from a man whose passion has cooled, takes refuge with Cinder, whose plethora of beaux points up Charlotte's lack of romantic relationships. The woman in the title story dumps her job and her apartment in response to a phone call from an old lover and rushes to spend Christmas with him in Canada, only to wait for him to return from a visit to his former wife and their small son. In its own fashion, each of these tales is an eloquent lesson in traveling light, heavy though the inner burden may be.
Copyright 1986 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 213 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf; 1st edition (February 12, 1986)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0394545982
  • ISBN-13: 978-0394545981
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 6 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,281,204 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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After reading Under The 82nd Airborne by Deborah Eisenberg, I realized that I found another impressive American short story writer. This was confirmed by her first collection of short stories Transactions In A Foreign Currency. Eisenberg, the recent recipient of a Mac Arthur Genius Grant, has a very precise style and excels in writing dialogue and creating stories that derive from relationships between people that ring true. I was expecting these stories to take place in Central America like those in Under The 82nd Airborne, but only the final story "Broken Glass," was set there. The rest take place in different places, but several of them are New York stories. I look forward to reading the only other collection that I haven't read yet, All Around Atlantis. Hopefully the new grant will give her time to greatly expand her limited oeuvre-the other short story collection Twilight of the SuperHeroes wasn't as impressive as the two earlier collections I read.
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Format: Hardcover
Henry James said that every writer has their right to their own 'donnee' their own given subject and theme. If one accepts that dictum then Deborah Eisenberg is not to be faulted for supplying us characters who seem singularly unattractive and insubstantial, lost in a flurry of experiences which seem to go nowhere especially. The ironic, intelligent, satiric and often perceptive voice of this writing does not in my mind and heart compensate for characters who in my judgment anyway, do not amount to much. The emotional weight of these stories for me , which I wanted to like very much, is not truly strong . Not only is character lacking but story moving toward some kind of revelation or insight is also.

Eisenberg's stories are highly praised by many, and that many may see what I do not .

But this work will not go in my own selection of favorite personal story collections.
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