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What He's Poised to Do: Stories Paperback – Deckle Edge, June 15, 2010


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial; 1 edition (June 15, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061987409
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061987403
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.5 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 0.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,938,263 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Fourteen very self-conscious stories from Greenman (Please Step Back) demonstrate the author's easy hand with formal manipulation, though his command over emotional terrain proves to be circumspect. The collection is bracketed by two very short stories (the title story and Her Hand) built around picture postcards (indeed, postmarks appear at the beginning of each story), and the varied stories between them all move with transparency; Greenman's prose is polished to a fine gloss that handily guides the reader along. While some stories only get a few details—two stories with cloyingly cute and very long titles are among the shortest; their titles virtual punch lines—others spin on, dominated less by substance than by stylistic demands, as with Seventeen Different Ways to Get a Load of That, which documents a relationship breakdown in short numbered cuts. The strongest story, What We Believe We Cannot Praise, about changing dynamics at a law firm, hints at Greenman's talent and begs for a longer treatment than it gets in this chilly if playful collection. (June)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review

“Greenman offers quiet, serious stories lifted by occasional humor and linked by instances of written correspondence. ” (New York Times Book Review)

“What a fine and unique writer Ben Greenman is. I love his sentences, his precision. I feel like he’s absorbed and digested so much great literature, distilling it all to create his own fantastic universe of stories and ideas.” (Jonathan Ames, author of Wake Up, Sir!)

“This book is like a strobe light—in short, sharp bursts, Ben Greenman renders the world we know into something startling, hypnotizing, and downright trippy.” (Daniel Handler)

“Romantic and compulsively readable, What He’s Poised to Do will appeal to anyone who’s ever been in love, had a broken heart, or been misunderstood.” (Amy Sohn, author of Prospect Park West)

“Ben Greenman’s What He’s Poised to Do is a terrific collection—a set of elegant, inventive dispatches that knock around space and time, and the wrenching gaps between people, to chart a world of previously unnamed moments and emotions.” (Jess Walter, author of The Financial Lives of the Poets)

“Ben Greenman’s prose is characterized by an effortless musicality. This collection finds him in peak form, simultaneously heartbreaking and hilarious. But it’s the beauty of his language that gets me.” (Rhett Miller, lead singer, The Old 97s)

“Ben Greenman’s masterwork of stories inspired by letters offers fresh insight into the mysteries of intimacy. A seriously brilliant and lyrical piece of modern fiction, with characters so alive and sincere and full of longing, they may climb out of the book and follow you home.” (Simon Van Booy, author of the Frank O’Connor Short Story Award-winning Love Begins in Winter)

More About the Author



Ben Greenman is an editor at The New Yorker and the author of the underground indie hits Please Step Back, Superbad, and A Circle is a Balloon and Compass Both. His short fiction and music criticism has appeared in The New Yorker, the New York Times, the Washington Post and the Paris Review, and he writes a regular comedy column for McSweeney's. He lives in Brooklyn.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By BklynSteele on July 6, 2010
Format: Paperback
I picked this slim collection of short stories up on a hung over whim at a small Brooklyn book store and very quickly realized that I had made a wise decision. Greenman, who is an editor at The New Yorker, employs a quirky, effective literary technique of posing the stories as chronicles of romantic correspondences in times past, present and future. Illustrating an insight that can occasionally be a tad uncomfortable, each story is delivered with a keen understanding of what makes us smile, cry and what turns us on. As much as I would like to offer a comparison to another author I simply feel that this would do Mr. Greenman a disservice as his voice rings in a tone apart from any that I have come across. But if I had to make an attempt, "What He's Poised To Do" reads like the offering of an Ann Beattie/Donald Barthelme literary love child. From the existential angst of "Against Samantha" to the bittersweet nostalgia of "What We Believe But Cannot Praise" this is a winning volume of smart fiction.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Vincent Barr on December 4, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
As a fan of short stories, McSweeney's, and Wells Tower, I have a special place for stories that capture the pains, pleasures, and paradoxes of human interaction. Greenman's tales take the form of letters and are equal parts believable, curious, hilarious, and peculiar.

This was my first Greenman read, and it will certainly not be my last.
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By Dee G on May 19, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I liked several of these stories so much I was sorry that they were short. Will definitely look for more works by this author.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Maria V. Luna on July 17, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Greenman devises a kaleidoscopic collection of lust and disillusionment in "What He's Poised to do". Epistolary time travel, and stylistically varied prose captivate and lead to excessive underlining of artful passages.
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