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What Becomes Hardcover – Deckle Edge, April 6, 2010


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Hand Reached Down to Guide Me by David Gates
Hand Reached Down to Guide Me by David Gates
Relentlessly inventive, alternately hilarious and tragic, always moving, these stories and a novella prove yet again that David Gates is one of our most talented, witty and emotionally intelligent writers. Learn more | See similar books

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. A bold new collection by relentlessly surprising Scottish author Kennedy (Day) finds her characters pinned somewhere between love and pain. In the title story, about a lone man's evening attending a smalltown cinema, the denouement comes very gradually, as it does frequently throughout, reflecting a kind of reluctant dawning of consciousness: the protagonist, a forensics expert traumatized by having seen so much carnage, has left his wife after the death of their young daughter, an event that has rendered them unable to stand the guilt and anger evoked by the other's presence. Wasps captures a young wife and mother as she is making a Sunday breakfast. This seemingly typical scene is frozen by the menace of the philandering husband's leaving for good and his icy treatment of his angry wife. Saturday Teatime depicts the panicked delayed memory shock experienced by a child listening to her father's abuse of her mother, while Marriage portrays the excruciating emotional and physical aftermath of a violent sexual encounter between a husband and wife. These stories are polished to perfection, full of very dark turns and exemplary of Kennedy's inventiveness. (Apr.)
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From Booklist

The Motown classic asked “What Becomes of the Brokenhearted?” Kennedy gives the bleak answers to that question in 12 devastating stories. Bankruptcy, the loss of a child, and spousal abuse are just some of the traumas with which these characters try, and frequently fail, to cope. In the daring “Sympathy,” a couple indulges in a sexually raw one-night stand, which only succeeds in crystallizing their loneliness. In “Whole Family with Young Children Devastated,” the sight of a missing-dog poster sends the female narrator into a state of rank desperation in which she longs to know the outcome and to see it posted: “Found. Exactly what we hoped for. Thanks to everyone for your concern. No problems anywhere.” Kennedy is unsparing in her depiction of the difficulties of communication, which are only superseded by the claustrophobia of being trapped in one’s own neurotic thoughts. Loneliness and depression are described in agonizing detail as the characters struggle to lift themselves out of despair through vitriolic rants and moments of fleeting intimacy. These are stories that are hard to read and even harder to forget. --Joanne Wilkinson
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This Book Is Bound with "Deckle Edge" Paper
You may have noticed that some of our books are identified as "deckle edge" in the title. Deckle edge books are bound with pages that are made to resemble handmade paper by applying a frayed texture to the edges. Deckle edge is an ornamental feature designed to set certain titles apart from books with machine-cut pages. See a larger image.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf; First Edition (states) edition (April 6, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307273547
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307273543
  • Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 0.8 x 8.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,768,922 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I happened across this at the library, read it, and promptly bought it to read again--it is that good. I recommend it to anyone writing short stories or interested in a literary/quality read.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Pamela J. Lindsay on January 9, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
In each of the short stories the reader can "sort of" see where the author is going (sort of), but in most of these stories she never gets to a place of consistency or clarity. I found it difficult to continue to read this book and put it down several times due to lack of interest. Generally when reading a book the reader can capture the essence of the writing and provide a coherent description of the book's contents. In the case of "What Becomes" the stories and the book itself just seem to fall apart leaving no productive impact or impression upon the reader except boredom and irritation. The book was disappointing and as the reader I was left hanging wanting more from the stories than bland words about how wrong life can be.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By T. ORourke on January 30, 2011
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This was a highly rated collection of stories (on several best books of the year lists) I read while in Africa with little else to do. Some of the stories are intriguing for their use of language and topics, but nothing here comes close to the finer writers in this genre like Alice Munro. There is some incredibly frank sexuality, some realistic portrayals of people on the fringes, but not much to make me want to read any more by this author or recommend this book to others. By the end I was very tired of it and happy to move on to something else.
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2 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Ann C. Greenwood on July 6, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The best short stories I've read in a long, long time. They have enough mystery to keep you wondering & enough compassion to tug at your heart strings. They never sidestep the ugliness or the beauty in all of us. An extremely worthwhile read.
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