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Where The Long Grass Bends: Stories Paperback – January 1, 2004


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Sarabande Books (January 1, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1889330965
  • ISBN-13: 978-1889330969
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.8 x 7.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #719,175 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Vaswani shows impressive range and a striking command of poetic imagery in this debut collection, which features 13 stories dealing mostly with the Indian and Asian immigrant experience. "Sita and Mrs. Durber" describes a British art teacher's struggles to deal with a formidably talented Malaysian kindergartener, whose brilliant drawings reveal uncomfortable truths. "Five Objects in Queens," in which an Indian family uses familiar references from their homeland to help them acclimate to life in New York, falls closer to the terrain carved out by writers like Bharati Mukerjee. On the experimental side, "An Outline of No Direction" is a fascinating, unconventional travelogue in list form that skewers and plays up American stereotypes ("In the South, I ride a roller coaster over Dolly Parton's bosom"). Vaswani's conceits are occasionally murky and vague-"Domestication of an Imaginary Goat," for example, labors with its analogy of a goat as a symbol of a couple's relationship, while "Procession at the Tomb of Sayyed Pir Hazrat Baba Bahadur Saheed Rah Aleh" overreaches in describing the role of spirits in a series of brief episodes. Several other stories are noticeably overwritten, as Vaswani falls victim to the tendency to go for the literary home run and descends into florid, overblown avant-garde cliches. But her talent shines through despite the inconsistencies and missteps, and her distinctive voice augurs well for future efforts. Author appearances in New York and Los Angeles.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review

...[S]tories that play with the notion of culture and homeland from a variety of perpectives. -- Kirkus Reviews

Vaswani is a confident writer, whose unflinching eye shows the reader the beauty grounded in the mundane. -- Reyhan Harmanci, San Francisco Chronicle, January 11, 2004

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Margaret Gordon on January 23, 2004
Format: Paperback
Anyone who appreciates the economy and power of the short story form should buy and read this book which is astonishing in its historical, cultural, geographic and stylistic range. Many of the stories, but especially the first two, are an eerie blend of myth and modernity. The reader must speculate on how much they were adaptations from what the author, whose parents are Indian and Irish, read or heard as a child and how much they were creatures of her own wondrously bizarre imagination. Modern stories, except those intended for children, are rarely animistic. These are feistily complex fables for adults who understand the continuum between humans and the rest of the sentient world. "Twang (Release)" has to be one of the zaniest and zenniest titles for a short story (or long, complex dream) ever invented. I found a word I'd never seen before --"marcelled". Are these marshalled waves, or marceauvian waves that mime movement as Vaswani's narrative mimes the crazed logic of fantasy? "The Excrement Man" is as rich in incongruity as the others; the core story is more linear than the first two, although it too has many hallucinatory gambols and gambles. "Sita and Mrs Durbar" is a sad but lovely piece, more manic in subject than style. "Five Objects in Queens" is a suite of vignettes with a common cast, chronological structure, and disconcerting counterpoint -- foreboding continuum under light motifs. I imagine that these Queens stories are more autobiographical than the others, if only for the direct Irish Indian references, but they may be just more miracles of Vaswani's endlessly fertile imagination.Read more ›
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 25, 2004
Format: Paperback
What separates this book from the pack and makes it a must-read is the multifaceted power of the writing. Vaswani is functioning on a literary level, eschewing easy plotlines and trite constructions, and yet the reader gets soundly pulled into each and every story in the same tidal way children sit rapt at the unfolding of a fable. Vaswani follows the truth of the human heart, regardless of the borders it may cross or the many ways it may find to love.
Many of the stories have land-mine lines or images that--spearing out from the artfully crafted exposition or the colossally detailed exposures of character--bury themselves hilt-deep in the reader: a passing reference to a lumpectomy, an innocent question about the demonic nature of higher education. It is moments like these that had me placing the book back on top of the pile when I was done, ready to read it again almost immediately.
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Format: Paperback
Readers who love the short story will enjoy discovering this exciting young writer. The stories have a wide range - magical realism with roots in (East)Indian mythology, funny and realistic depictions of the tensions, misunderstandings, and strong ties within intergenerational Indian immigrant families - but all are almost compulsively readable. The pages fly by, and you will find yourself laughing out loud. Resonant with some of your favorite Indian authors, but an authentically new and hard to categorize American voice.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 21, 2004
Format: Paperback
A fireworks display of language and form: this is a stunning debut!
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By A Customer on March 15, 2004
Format: Paperback
Vaswani's creative honesty and descriptive genius make these sojourns memorable. Like dreams one cannot forget, the residual allegorical power of the situations you experience linger on long after all the pages have been turned. From stark reality to the fantastic, Vaswani's range touches on various levels of human existence - the mundane to the spiritual. Waiting for more.
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More About the Author

Neela Vaswani is author of the short story collection WHERE THE LONG GRASS BENDS, and a memoir, YOU HAVE GIVEN ME A COUNTRY. She is the recipient of the American Book Award, an O. Henry Prize, the ForeWord Book of the Year gold medal, and many other honors. She is also co-author of the YA book, SAME SUN HERE (with Silas House). Her fiction and nonfiction have been widely anthologized and published in journals such as EPOCH, SHENANDOAH, and PRAIRIE SHOONER. She has been a Visiting-Writer-in-Residence at more than 100 institutions, among them: Knox College, 92nd Street Y (Tribeca), the Jimenez-Porter House at the University of Maryland, Kentucky Women Writers Conference, the Whitney Museum in New York City, and IIIT Hyderabad, India. She has a Ph.D. in Cultural Studies, lives in New York City, and teaches at Spalding University's brief-residency MFA in Writing Program. An education activist in India and the United States, Vaswani is founder of the Storylines Project with the New York Public Library.

Her father is Sindhi-Indian and her mother is Irish-Catholic. By the time Vaswani was eighteen, her family had lived in thirteen homes and traveled to twenty-five countries on doctor swaps and teaching tours. Vaswani has held a number of waitressing jobs, from chicken shacks to comedy clubs, and she paid off her school loans by cocktail waitressing at a fondue bar in NYC. Her first job was at a one-hour photo booth on Long Island. She has also dressed Armani models, delivered telephone books, worked cattle round-ups and barbed wire fencing, ripped tickets at a movie theatre, been a maid, a stage manager, a secretary, a prop girl for two independent movies, and driven an ice cream truck. She is left-handed although she plays the fiddle and knits right-handed. She loves paleontology, the Indian railway system, female detectives on television, goats, bats, bad-tempered camels, and online Boggle.

For more on the Storylines Project and Adult Literacy and ESL at the New York Public Library:

http://ncvfoundation.org/