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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on October 25, 2007
This box of stories is such a treat! The stories in each of the three books might come from the same tradition and share some sensibilities (the precision of language, lovingly crafted sentences), but each has its own voice, style, and character. And that's part of the pleasure: each book is a discovery! Dave Eggers's collection, for example, is full of miniature portraits, the characters (some named, others nameless) caught in strange predicaments (a boy named Charles, who never has his picture taken; a woman named Puma, who has so many friends she must find a way to escape them). In Sarah Manguso's book, a narrator alternates between peculiar experiences of the adult life and the memories of childhood, each childhood vignette a perfect life lesson (an incident with a cruel science teacher, an encounter with a class bully), though the outcome of each is wonderfully unexpected. Deb Olin Unferth's stories are mysterious and surreal (objects disappear in foreign countries, a woman is transformed into a machine and has an affair), often hilarious ("Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: A bit of a brat, so they say. But his wife loved him."), but also recognizable and heartbreaking.

And of course, like all McSweeney's books, this set is exquisitely made. A real treasure!
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on February 8, 2008
Unferth's Minor Robberies is a rare treat: at times metafictional, at times formally experimental, at times just plain wacky, these short-short stories delight without becoming glib. Standout stories include "Sickos" which features a "very vaguely, very religious" sex worker, "Give Them the Bag" a funny and strangely heart-breaking tale of sisters traveling together, and "Single Percent" a mathematical analysis of romantic commitment. Bring this lovely book with you everywhere so you can catch a story whenever you have a few minutes.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on November 19, 2007
The three books in this set complement each other well. Although I enjoyed all three, Deb Olin Unferth's Minor Robberies stands out in this group. It is delightfully humorous, adventurous, and with a touch of mystery at times. Unferth's stories cover various topics from relationships, to families, to South American travel, to the lives of great composers and architects. Each story has its own life and ends up in a different place, sometimes an unexpected one. Her stories are accessible, I felt compelled several times to call my friends and read to them out loud. Unferth has a talent for changing an entire story around in one line, and sometimes changing it back with the next. All of the books in this set are carefully written, stylistically interesting and worth reading. I highly recommend it!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on November 24, 2007
These stories are small, sharp, lovely, and giving. Read Deb Olin Unferth's "To Be Honest". Then read it again. And again. Each time it expands, contracts, twists into a tiny ball, then grows giant. This is an amazing trio of books in the prettiest of mcsweeney's packages. the perfect present (who isn't psyched for dave eggers in their stocking) if there are still any left. i bought 3.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on July 9, 2008
I enjoy the increasingly popular and demanding form of the short-short and flash and wish there were more collections like these. Deb Olin Unferth's "Minor Robberies" is, far and away, the strongest book of the bunch, and it's this collection I'm focusing on and awarding 5 stars. The other two have their merits, but having read Manguso and Egger's other work, I don't think the flash is their forte.

Deb Olin Unferth's pieces are strange, cubist, experimental, funny, frightening. Some of them aren't stories at all, but assemblages of mercurial thought. Others evince the clear influence of Diane Williams and Lydia Davis, among others, but that's not a bad thing. The best of the bunch, in my opinion, are the more narrative-oriented stories, such as The Container, Soap, Managing, and---my favorite---Juan the Cell Phone Salesman.

I award the box five stars for Unferth's book alone. It'll be a collection I return to every now and then in the future.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on August 13, 2013
Manguso's volume is a wonderful trip into another person's growing mind. By far, this is the best third of the boxed set. It is an enjoyable series of interesting details, characters, thoughts, and anecdotes, and I would definitely recommend it. This would get four stars on its own.
[...]

Egger's volume isn't bad, considering I don't even really like the shallow genre of flash fiction, anyway. The best part of his writing in this box set is his introduction, something that's not even contained in his volume of work. I don't really understand the fascination with Dave Eggers, but this work isn't bad. This would get two stars on its own.
[...]

Unferth's volume, quite frankly, is horrendous. I hope I never read anything worse. I was seriously depressed while reading this, and, since I didn't want to pick it up to suffer any further, the depression lasted far longer than it needed to. It is, thankfully, a very short volume of rubbish. Honestly, the whole boxed set would have a greater value if this book weren't in it. This would get zero stars on its own and brings the entire average down sharply.
[...]
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on January 10, 2011
This is a wonderful book set. This is just lovely. I hope to give it to a close friend or a daughter someday.
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7 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on October 21, 2007
Deb Unferth, Dave Eggers and Sarah Manguso are just extremely entertaining. This box is a treasure. I have it by my bed on my nighttable (along with a Harper's, a New Yorker and a Bernhardt book) and each night before bed I read a few stories. They give me interesting dreams. And they entertain me and take my mind off the day, into a better, weirder, funnier place. If not "magic"--because these are realistic stories about the drama between lovers, husbands and wives, mothers and daughters, neighbors and ex-lovers, postmen and customers, salesmen, fashion models and etc--they have a humor and intensity that brings through the layer of magic that does exist in our world--to the extent that we all feel its hovering possibility, it's here. I'll be reading these for a while. I had the chance to ask David Sedaris what he was reading, and he said this book, and so I picked it up.
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on July 8, 2013
All three books are excellent, but Egger's "How the Water Feels to the Fishes" is my favorite of all time.
Several short, funny, sad, and interesting stories that can be enjoyed quickly on the morning train commute or curled up on the couch on a lazy day off.
The set (like all of McSweeney's books) is very well-bound and will look beautiful on your bookshelf.
Highly recommend.
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on December 17, 2013
Love these Books! Something to make you think about so many different past times or hypotheticals. Expands the Mind! Brings up All types of feelings, and if you continue reading, sometimes, quickly switches them to another. Great for anyone with a short attention span.
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