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We're Flying [Kindle Edition]

Peter Stamm , Michael Hofmann
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Following the publication of the widely acclaimed novel Seven Years comes a trove of stories from the Swiss master Peter Stamm. They all possess the traits that have built Stamm’s reputation: the directness of the prose, the deceptive surface simplicity of the narratives, and deep psychological insight into the existential dilemmas of contemporary life. Stamm does not waste a word, nor does he spare the reader’s feelings. These stories are a superb introduction to his work and a gift for all those who have come to regard his fiction as a precise rendering of the contemporary human psyche.

Editorial Reviews


"The situations depicted in Stamm’s We’re Flying...evoke the negative spaces of Raymond Carver or the quiet menace of Shirley Jackson, but with Walser’s light touch." –Seattle Times

“Peter Stamm’s stories are incisively pared down, as if he cuts through the surface of things: everything is peeled open, apparent, naked... Each story is intriguing like a complex piece of machinery where you can see everything even if you don't understand how it works.” –Tessa Hadley, author of Married Love and The London Train

“Stamm finds variety in setting and with characters of differing ages and social classes, and by writing in first, second, and third person in both past and present tense. More significantly, he connects so closely to the psyches of these individuals that his style becomes mutable, variously suggesting the eerie claustrophobia of Shirley Jackson, the brittle edge of Raymond Carver, and even the warmth of Lorrie Moore.” –Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Many of Stamm’s characters seem perplexed about what life is, yet what life might be about or how to live it are questions they would never think to ask. The slightest indispositions overwhelm them. Stamm builds these half-lives in declarative sentences, and Hofmann’s translation has a terse exactness. A [character] offers this: 'A feeling has no nose, no cheeks, no mouth. You can’t trust your feelings, they’re too inexact.' Stamm’s great gift is to let feelings remain unspoken.” –Booklist

“The 22 stories in Swiss writer Peter Stamm’s We’re Flying intimately explore the peaks and valleys of his characters’ often solitary passions and obsessions.” –Elle
“ Beneath the surface placidity of Swiss life, undercurrents of spiritual turmoil and existential despair charge this powerful collection of provocative stories...Renowned in European literary circles, Switzerland’s Stamm didn’t achieve his stateside critical breakthrough until his last novel (Seven Years, 2011, etc.). This story collection is even better, with pieces that read like the Zurich equivalent of Camus or Kafka, occasionally laced with a bit of Ibsen or Ingmar Bergman…For those who have an affinity for metaphysical fiction written with a surgeon’s precision, this collection will spur readers to seek out everything else by its author.” –Kirkus (starred review)

“These tautly constructed stories, with echoes of such disparate authors as Patricia Highsmith and Anton Chekhov, take root in the psyche and will not let you go” –Library Journal

"The achievement of this not a small one. The style evokes absurdity, but the stories themselves are saved from being absurd. It is not always courageous to simply tour through life’s moments of futility and failure. Stamm examines these moments with the riskier project of exploring the messy humanity exposed therein. He invites us to recognize ourselves there—and to do so without shame." –The Rumpus

"So, so good. I heartily recommend this book, Stamm is a master at work and the collection will delight and startle in equal measure." –Alex in Leeds

"We’re Flying
is eerily readable—perhaps due to how much of ourselves we recognize in his characters. In a varied and colorful array of stories, Stamm manages to portray human life as the emotional mishmash that it really is, full of misery and beauty, full of falling and flying." –Three Percent

"I think [Stamm] is one of those rare writers whose words haunt his readers long after you put his books down."Yiyun Li, Wall Street Journal (Asia)

"It is difficult not to find yourself in many of these stories...The result is an effortless accumulation of small gestures that furnish the spaces in which the understanding of ourselves and others becomes possible..." –Full Stop

"Stamm is a true artist here, and his stories require the reader to really listen. He asks you to see and hear his characters deeply...He has a knack for effortless symbolism, but he dodges any sense of intentional drama or sentimentality. Walk through these places, and delight in Stamm’s sure and unabated guidance."  –Propeller

About the Author

Peter Stamm was born in 1963, in Weinfelden, Switzerland. He is the author of the novel Agnes, and numerous short stories and radio plays. His novels Unformed Landscape, On a Day Like This, and Seven Years, and the collection In Strange Gardens and Other Stories are available from Other Press. His prize-winning books have been translated into more than thirty languages. He lives outside of Zurich.
Michael Hofmann has translated the works of Franz Kafka, Joseph Roth, and Peter Stephan Jungk. He is the author of several books of poems and a book of essays, Behind the Lines, and is the editor of the anthology Twentieth-Century German Poetry. He lives in Florida and London.

Product Details

  • File Size: 3189 KB
  • Print Length: 383 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 159051324X
  • Publisher: Other Press (August 14, 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B007B2FSCA
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #275,994 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Innocence and Experience May 10, 2013
Swiss author Peter Stamm has made a career of psychologically evocative books in which very little actually happens. And so it is with this marvelous collection of understated stories. Just look at the first four. In "Expectations," a woman of uncertain age begins a relationship with the younger man upstairs, but it doesn't turn out as she had expected. In "A Foreign Body," a speleologist meets a couple who challenge him to take them into an unexplored cave, but he refuses. In "Three Sisters," a young woman goes by train to study art in Vienna, but gets off at the first stop. In "The Hurt," a young man attempts to continue his relationship with his first girlfriend, but she rejects him.

A book of non-events, you might think, but the point is not in the refusals or missed connections, but how they function as a window into the inner lives of the characters. The cave explorer, for instance, comes to a realization about himself that might have been more painful or even deadly if discovered under different circumstances. The climax of the boy's story with the standoffish girl proves a decisive moment in illuminating both her past and his future. In the title story, "We're Flying," a kindergarten teacher takes a child home with her when nobody appears to pick him up. The mother eventually comes, but the experience makes her reappraise her relationship with her boyfriend. What is interesting is how Stamm's develops the situation, having us first view the boyfriend in one light, then in a different one, then in a different one again, all in a few pages.

These stories were originally published in 2008. But this edition adds a second collection, also beautifully translated by Michael Hofmann, dating from 2011 and called THE RIDGE.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Pine Trees and Snow August 27, 2012
By Cynthia
This is a fine collection of stories. They are dark and often leave you hanging yet for all that they're satisfying in large part because they're so well done. They're heavily laden with teachers and educational settings but disgruntled students aren't the focus...the teachers are in the forefront. This book is about adults and for adults. Stamm explores obsession, dissatisfaction, inappropriate behavior sometimes bordering on being dangerous, and fatalism just to name a few of his themes. Sexuality loops throughout these stories though it's mostly a cover for a longing to be loved. Though he often mentions the beautiful Swiss landscape it's not a focus. There are two stories that especially stick in my mind. One is about a writer who seeks an out of the way place to work; another is about a pastor who desires to take his faith and life to another level. Neither of these characters are disappointed and we readers aren't either. There's a prevalent sense of tragedy lurking in Stamm's stories but it never quite manifests or at least not in the way we anticipate.

As I mentioned Stamm is a Swiss writer. This is the first I've read of him or even heard of him. The translation by Michael Hoffmann flows which I assume is an amalgam of Stamm's and Hoffman's skills. These stories are not perfect but they're very entertaining and sometimes enlightening.

This review is based on an e-galley provided by the publisher.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars O. Henry Through the Looking Glass June 7, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition
Peter Stamm's very short stories have no endings, neither the too-clever surprises of O. Henry nor the enigmatic resolutions of Henry James, but that's not by indirection. The stories are fashionably NOT "plot driven." They are precisely what editors demand; they're what short stories are supposed to be in our tale-less times. Likewise characterization: the characters in any Stamm non-story are nobodies, not the sort of people whose lives become narratives. They're seemingly random ordinary folks, which is to say hapless, dysfunctional, out of focus, and weird ... like most of us.

But such over-determined tale evasion is as artificial and gimmicky as the trick ending of an O. Henry or the too-conclusive ending of a Dickens novel. There's a formula, a template of coyly empty untelling, which Stamm professionally heeds. It's a bit like painting by the numbers ...

That said, it must be conceded that Stamm crafts his artifices extremely well. The stories are fun to read, one or two at a sitting. What else is worth saying about them?
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4.0 out of 5 stars Unusual short stories November 15, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Some very interesting and unusual stories, some that feel almost unfinished but hauntingly beautiful. Worth checking out. Definitely, I mean it.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Switzerland is not only about cuckoo clocks. February 4, 2013
By Stoffel
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This bundle of short stories presents the lives of ordinary persons in a humane manner. The diversity of subject matter is astounding. I am a Stamm convert.
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