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Women with Men : Three Stories Paperback – April 28, 1998

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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

This audiobook features an unabridged story taken from author Ford's recent collection, Women with Men. As narrator, Ford's voice is melancholic and perfect for evoking the downbeat tone of the work. In brief, a tangle of jealousy erupts among a Montana family, leading directly to the unnecessary death of a total stranger. The telling of the story is enhanced by the program's production values: effective music, good sound quality, and an appropriately somber pace. The story is so subtle that listeners may need to hear it twice to catch a single line in the narrative that is critical for insight into the real cause of the tragic event, never admitted or even spoken by the character responsible for it. A wholly absorbing work for adults.?Mark Pumphrey, Polk Cty. P.L., Columbus, N.C.
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Audio Cassette edition.

From Booklist

Ford's novel, Independence Day (1995), won both the Pulitzer Prize and the PEN/Faulkner Award, and there is no question that he is a gifted storyteller, albeit a morose and relentlessly precise one. Here, in three powerful long stories, he explores precarious and complicated relationships between men and women. Each tale revolves around the fractured emotions aroused by the dissolution of a marriage: feelings of failure and the dizzying sense of spinning unsteadily and off course through life, like a wheel without an axle. In "The Womanizer," a man who believes he still loves his wife goes to Paris alone on a business trip and becomes obsessed with a Frenchwoman, an awkward and futile pursuit with a near-disastrous denouement. In "Jealousy," set in a bleak little Montana town, a 17-year-old finds himself skewered on the sharp psyches of his unhappily separated parents and lonely aunt Doris (a wonderful character with a taste for schnapps, a pink Cadillac, and a red dress). Ford returns to Paris in "Occidentals," rendering the city intolerably gray and extremely dangerous to the mental health of its fuzzy-minded American visitors. All of Ford's magnetic characters seem permanently jet-lagged, woozy with displacement and disappointment, and their troubles escalate accordingly, with surreal and sickening inevitability. Donna Seaman --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Product Details

  • Series: Vintage Contemporaries
  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; First Edition edition (April 28, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679776680
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679776680
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.6 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #947,655 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

25 of 27 people found the following review helpful By David Antonelli on November 22, 1999
Format: Hardcover
I think this is one of Richard Ford's best along with Wildlife, Rock Springs, and The Ultimate Good Luck. The subject matter and setting are quite different from the Americana we've come to expect from him, yet the depth of insight is there in maybe even more intensity than in any other works. I rank the first story, The Womanizer, up there with more obvious and less subtle works by Camus concerning "the human condition" While some reviwers found the protagonist lacking direction and substance, I felt that this was precisely WHY this story was so good. Ford has managed to portray a character who is non-commital and self-deceptive to the point of ridiculousness. He is an onion skin of lies and apathy floating back and forth between Paris and the US under the illusion that he is having an affair with a woman that he really doesn't care about. There are so many great scenes in here from the one where he imagines himself in court with his wife to when he presents the little boy with a gift. Ford undermines him with irony from start to finish and presents us with incredible detail and insight a character who is fundementally vague and doesn't even know himself let alone others. A classic of the short novel which should be ranked with the best of Peter Handke in this genre. There is a little of this protagonist in all of us. Well done.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Thomas Fulton on October 18, 1998
Format: Paperback
Richard Ford's Women with Men is a collection of three short stories. The first and third seem closely related. They focus on two men from the Midwest, both entering middle age, and both profoundly confused and clueless. The city of Paris features prominently in both stories. The third, story, much shorter and sandwiched between the Paris tales is a sort of coming of age tale of a teenage boy in Montana. It seems somewhat out of place.
In the first story, "The Womanizer", Martin Austin a supposedly happily married man, has traveled to Paris for a business trip where he finds himself intrigued by a somber, enigmatic woman undergoing a painful divorce. The story chronicles what happens when Austin becomes unaccountably obsessed with her. In the other Paris story, "Occidentals", Charley Matthews, whose wife has recently abandoned him, is visiting Paris on business, accompanied by his lover, Helen. I found both stories painful and dreary but was struck by how congruent Ford's writing style was with the psyche of the characters. Both the characters and the writing are ponderous, and humorless and grim. The result is an unusually intense portrayal of unconscious grief, depression, and delusion and quiet despair among men (and the women in their lives) who are groping for meaning and purpose in a soul-dead existence, and who are floundering for human connection without the slightest capacity for autheticity or intimacy.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By John P. Jones III TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on August 1, 2008
Format: Paperback
There is the selection of stories itself that is interesting. Two are primarily set in Paris, the book ends for one set in Montana. Meaningful design, or whimsy?

In both the stories set in Paris, there is a strong element of American "innocents abroad," traveling out of their depth, with an inchoate sense that Paris will solve the problems of their shallow lives. In the first story, "The Womanizer," the American protagonist, Martin Austin, is nominally a happily married, yet is pulled to a certain "je ne sais quoi" that seems to envelop French women. Ford has a remarkable ability to portray what is Austin's mind, while at the same time depicting the reality that he is oblivious to. At one point Austin sees, sitting in a café, "a man with soiled lapels, in need of a shave and short of cash, scribbling his miserable thoughts into a tiny spiral notebook like all the other morons he's seen who'd thrown their lives away," which is a haunting foreshadowing of the inevitable, tragic denouement of Austin's odyssey - certainly far more tragic than my limited imagination could have predicted.

In the third story, "Occidentals," a "retired" white English professor, who through a fluke, had become a black studies specialist, has taken one of his former students, who is eight years older than him, for their first trip to Paris. She has cancer, and a classic checklist of sights that must be seen. At one point she meets former friends, the true "Ugly Americans" abroad, and they have dinner. They scene is a painful read, for regrettably it is not crude caricature, but an accurate depiction of those who are uncomfortable out of their own narrow cultural norms. Likewise, there is another tragic denouement.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 4, 1998
Format: Hardcover
This collection of stories extends a major theme in Ford's work: women sans men do just fine. Drop a male or two into the picture, and the problems start to pile up. This collection throws this thematic cream pie in your face. It's not a subtle message; the title's obvious poke at Hemingway gives it away before Page One. Fortunately, its thematic constructs do not overshadow the absolute quality of the work. Ford is a premier American writer, and this volume upholds his lofty standing, although it may not raise it to the next level (whatever that may be). Still, there are nits to pick. To the well initiated, these stories may well read like highly developed drafts of finer works to come. While the characters are true and well-developed, they lack a certain depth of those in other Ford works. And the internal dialogs, for which Ford is famous, sometimes border on whining, particularly in the third story, Occidentals. If you're not a Ford fan, these shortcomings may leave you searching for a more engaging read. Still, anyone interested in serious American literature, should check out Women with Men.
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