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I Want To Show You More Hardcover – March 5, 2013

3.5 out of 5 stars 62 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Prizewinning Quatro’s highly anticipated and deeply intriguing first book, a subtly metamorphosing short story collection, shimmers with touches of Flannery O’Connor and George Saunders. Her bifurcated setting, Lookout Mountain on the border of Georgia and Tennessee, gives rise to inquiries into the opacity and intimacy of marriage, social hypocrisy, and the divide between what is verifiably real and what we imagine. Jocelyn, a recurring character, is struggling with the consequences of virtual adultery. Do romantic e-mails and phone sex constitute an actual affair? In one spooky story, her lover’s corpse occupies her marriage bed. Quatro examines complex questions of heritage and tyranny in a stealthily devastating tale about a marathon traversing a Civil War battlefield in which runners must carry statues, many of them erotic. In another haunting tale, 89-year-old Eva, whose son was killed in Vietnam, walks along a highway to mail a letter protesting the Iraq War to President George W. Bush. Cancer, addictions, the curious dismantling of a church, and the birth of a cult also fuel compelling moral dilemmas that yoke bizarreness with authenticity. --Donna Seaman

Review

"[With its] impressive agility and inventiveness . . . I Want to Show You More is an obsessive first collection that feels like a fifth or sixth. It is a dogged, brutally thoughtful piece of work, and gives us a writer of great originality and apparent artistic maturity who seems to have come out of nowhere. . . . Strange, thrilling, and disarmingly honest . . . Quatro hits the right balance, giving us the closet thing I've seen in years to Donald Barthelme's insouciance, sweetness, and ominousness. . . . Provides the most engaging literary treatment of Christianity since O'Connor, without a hint of the condescension the subject often receives in contemporary fiction. . . . [Quatro's] flights of fancy are never ostentatious or arbitrary; instead they grow naturally out of the emotional and psychological states of her characters. Readers may hope to see more of this hallucinatory mode from her, but—if they're like me—they will welcome whatever they can get."—The New York Times Book Review

"The best stories in Jamie Quatro's first collection, I Want to Show You More, are about adultery. They are passionate, sensuous, savagely intense, and remarkable for their brave dualism. . . . Moves between carnality and spirit like some franker, modernized Flannery O'Connor tale . . . Quatro has a poet's compound eye . . . [and] fearless lyricism. . . . Expansive, joyful, with forgiveness supplanting ruination. Who needs the New Testament? In Quatro's world, hard Genesis is always making way for the softer Song of Solomon: 'I sat down under his shadow with great delight, and his fruit was sweet to my taste.'"—The New Yorker

"Vivid . . . Arresting . . . Quatro very much establishes her own distinctive voice and style. . . . A luminous collection that announces a unique literary talent. Quatro's stories dazzle and shine."—San Francisco Chronicle

"Haunting and sharp . . . [reminiscent] of the dark-meets-light style of Lydia Davis or Alice Munro—but it leaves room for zingers, too. Quatro is so good . . . the title of this debut collection isn't just a tease."—Elle

"Delicious reading . . . [An] impressive debutabout the shortcomings of people who wrestle with angels, and usually lose."—Chicago Tribune

"Shattering and exceptional . . . The effect of this intersection of the domestic with sex and with ecstatic faith was, for me, a freakily new reading experience. . . . Quatro shoves us close to the grotesqueness of our desires. . . . Tense and musical."—The Plain Dealer (Cleveland)

"Occasionally, a first book of short stories can shake the world awake with its extraordinarily singular vision and voice, reinvigorating language. Jamie Quatro’s I Want to Show You More is such a book—and holy fuck, is it. . . . Startling, heartrending, and extraordinarily sexy . . . [with] allegorical scene[s] worthy of Kafka or Donald Barthelme."—Baltimore City Paper

“Dark, bizarre, and highly sexual . . . Some stories are uncomfortable, pushing the limit with their sheer oddity and disregard for social norms. But isn’t that the point?”—USA Today (3 stars)

"Much of the tension in these stories stems from characters realizing that what they’ve long considered God’s plan can theoretically be molded to match their own desires. What Quatro renders so accurately is the power and pain that comes with such a realization. . . . These stories are bold (and wise) in their portrayal of how, when we want to find a sign, we can usually make ourselves find it. Many comparisons will be made between Quatro’s and Flannery O’Connor’s treatments of religion and faith; they are all accurate and deserved. But this book pushes past that inheritance by examining how it holds up it in our time, when we’re effortlessly connected by technology, when affairs (or almost-affairs) can be conducted safely (or almost safely) from hundreds of miles away."—The L Magazine

"Deeply intriguing . . . Subtly metamorphosing . . . Shimmers with touches of Flannery O'Connor and George Saunders . . . [Quatro's] compelling moral dilemmas yoke bizarreness with authenticity."—Booklist

"A brilliant new voice in American fiction has arrived. Bright, sharp, startling, utterly distinctive, passionate, and secretive, Jamie Quatro’s stories are missives from deep within the landscape of American womanhood. They take you by the heart and throat, shake you awake, and ask you to ponder the mysteries of love, parenthood, and marriage. She has earned a place alongside Amy Hempel, Lydia Davis, and Alice Munro."—David Means

"Fasten your seat belt: Jamie Quatro is a writer of great talent who knows how to take a dark turn without ever tapping the brakes and then bring you back into daylight with breathtaking precision. These amazing stories explore the human boundaries between the physical world and the spiritual—lust, betrayal, and loss in perfect balance with love, redemption, and grace."—Jill McCorkle

"Quatro maps a twinkling constellation of modern-day desire, paranoia, and grief against an inky background of Souther religious and historical fervor. But the gothic beauty and bittersweet humor of her style are the real stars of this arresting debut."—NY1

"The characters in these absolutely unique stories live at a nearly intolerable level of intensity, stretched on a self-created rack between faith and sexuality—and they’re even smart enough to be conflicted about whether or not there’s a conflict. Jamie Quatro spares us neither the strangeness of their experience nor its discomfiting familiarity. She observes them with a cool, comic yet compassionate eye, and shapes the raw material of their passionate strivings with a steady, skillful hand—a miracle in which any reader can believe."—David Gates

"Yowza . . . This one is going to be big. . . . It's so good, I kind of want to lick it."—Book Riot

"These are stories that make you stop whatever you're doing and read. They show us who we are, at our better moments and those other moments, too. These are delightful stories for this brand new century, from a writer unafraid to face it. I salute a brilliant new American writer."—Tom Franklin

"With her wild and dark imagination, Quatro has crafted highly original, thought-provoking, and deeply moving stories about faith, marriage, infidelity, sex, and death. This is bold, daring fiction."—The Columbus Dispatch

"Each one of the stories in this astonishing collection is exquisitely crafted, the characters here as complex, real, and finely drawn as you’ll find. No hyperbole here: Jamie Quatro is simply an outstanding new talent."—Elizabeth Crane

"Jamie Quatro's stories are about religion and children and sex and death and infidelity and God, and together they create one of the most authentically horrifying portraits of modern American adulthood I’ve ever read. Did I mention these stories are also very, very funny? Ladies and gentlemen, this is what short fiction is for."—Tom Bissell

"Quatro has mastered the art of the double-take—that whiplash of recognition that gets the reader first at the level of the sentence, then, with extra reward, at story’s end. The author pushes fearlessly, cape close to horns, blade held high and at risky angles. An impressive debut."—Sven Birkerts

"From under the placid surface of Jamie Quarto’s stories sentences of astonishing strangeness startle the pond and serve as reminders of the dangerous, unknowable human heart. Waves of tenderness and humor also figure in the experience of reading this first collection. Here is a new talent with work made to last."—Christine Schutt

"A remarkable debut by an important new voice . . . Quatro [has] a mature understanding of how we handle disappointment and how, quite often, we take refuge in the most unhelpful places. How we feel doesn't affect our lives nearly so much as where we take our feelings."—The Toronto Star
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Grove Press; First Edition edition (March 5, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 080212075X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802120755
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.8 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (62 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #848,673 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
If there was an option for 3 1/2 stars, I'd go with that.

I first encountered Quatro in Ploughshares with her story "Sinkhole." I love that story. I'll say that again: I love that story. It's idiosyncratic and heartbreaking. I found another of Quatro's stories in AQR--"Georgia the Whole Time"--which I also very much enjoyed. Finally, I ran into "Demolition" in the Kenyon Review. I enjoyed "Demolition" because it's sort of a bizarre account of a deviant religious cult.

Anyway, I went into this collection with high expectations, but came away a bit disappointed. First, I found the recurring adultry/phone sex theme tiring and a bit bland. Many of these stories are thematically rich but lack a strong central plot (such as "Holy Ground" and "The Anointing"). Another recurrent theme is religion. The religious theme is somewhat elusive, and I didn't get a clear picture of the role that religion is supposed to be playing here (clearly, these characters are questioning their faith, but the end result is somewhat vague. Do they lose faith? Merely question it? Reaffirm it? I'm just not sure).

Still, there are a few gems here, such as the ones mentioned earlier, as well as: "1.7 to Tennessee" and "Better to Lose an Eye" (which I enjoyed despite the fact that the idea may be a bit trite).

Quatro does a fantastic job with language. I just wish the themes of these stories were a bit more unique and the plots were just a tad stronger. The phone sex thing really detracted from this collection.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This debut collection of stories has gathered some impressive critical acclaim, but I'm afraid I don't entirely agree with the glowing reviews. Quatro is a fine writer on a sentence-by-sentence basis, but in terms of overall effect I find her stories rather leaden. Some are leaden in the sense of being overweighted with soap-opera plots that lack any subtlety, and all of them are leaden in the sense that they don't "ring" -- they have little lasting resonance. Some stories may have a visceral impact, but it's a dull, thudding impact that dies away in an instant.

In subject matter, most of the stories fall into one (or two) of these categories:

1) Horrific circumstances befalling young mothers. In these, the lack of subtlety is most obvious, and having four such stories in a single book exaggerates this flaw. After reading a story about an already-dead-from-cancer young mother ("Here"), another about a shot-in-the-neck-and-quadriplegic young mother ("Better to Lose an Eye"), another about a young mother whose husband suffers from clinical depression ("The Anointing"), I moved on to the one about a young mother dying of cancer ("Georgia the Whole Time") with a feeling of "oh, puh-LEEZE" weariness.

2) Stories with an element of fantasy. In "Decomposition," the end of an extramarital affair manifests itself in the form of the male lover's decomposing body magically appearing in the woman's bed. In "Ladies and Gentlemen of the Pavement," marathon runners (all marathon runners, everywhere) are given small statues to carry as they run. In "Demolition," a church begins to magically fall apart. In "Holy Ground" a woman goes on a jogging journey of discovery that ends at a magical church.
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Format: Hardcover
I was led to the collection by James Woods's stellar review in the New Yorker and it did not disappoint. The stories hit on something startlingly original and true about the experience of adultery (or almost adultery) for a woman...and the experience of being an intelligent and sensual woman who's fiercely dedicated to her children, the sublimation of the erotic to the maternal and the consequences that flow from that. I am recommending the book to everyone I know.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I find this book to be well written and engrossing, full of feeling and humanity, but best understood from a Southern perspective.

I usually go for history books or mysteries, but something drew me to this title. The author writes in first person, and does a great job of really delving into how a person feels when experiencing painful times. The stories are not actually connected to each other, and yet in some way they flow together; this is a spectacular achievement. The themes center around cancer, illnesses, church, and sexuality - often tied together. The stories are mostly set in the South (Tennessee and Georgia), and the couple that are not set there still have that Southern influence to them. While it is not a direct theme, the moral context of the South - morality versus hedonism, church backgrounds and sometimes strange methods of faith (at least to people outside the South), and a repressed sexuality that often permeates underneath the action - provides the driving force that makes this book great. As a child of the South, I was able to see these underlying concepts. It would be quite possible to take each of these stories and further break out how the theme and contents are representative of some (or many) aspects of a Southern upbringing. I recognized these things, but preferred to just enjoy rather than analyze. I'm not sure if someone from another American culture would understand the book to the same level as I did, and they might be a bit confused (or think that the characters were a bit crazy). But I think they would still be fascinated by the book.
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