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Condition: Used: Good
Comment: The item shows wear from consistent use, but it remains in good condition and works perfectly. All pages and cover are intact (including the dust cover, if applicable). Spine may show signs of wear. Pages may include limited notes and highlighting. May include "From the library of" labels.
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The Age of Grief Paperback – June 11, 2002

3.9 out of 5 stars 21 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

With authenticity, insight, sensitivity and an unobstrusive yet absorbing prose style, Smiley (Duplicate Keys portrays pained individuals who yearn for idyllic companionship, plus the contentment and security that they imagine it entails. In "The Pleasure of Her Company," one of five short stories, a lonely pediatric nurse establishes a rapport with her new neighbors. Convinced that married couples share an inviolable, almost mystical bond that outsiders cannot fathom, she makes the unwelcome discovery that their apparent harmony is a facade. "Lily" is the tale of a love-hungry young poet whose bickering married friends arrive for a visit; Lily boldly hastens their break-up. In "Dynamite," a former Barnard College radical still wanted by the FBI impulsively heads back to New York for the reassuring presence of her family. The novella from which this slim volume takes its title brilliantly shows a husband's agony when his wife's affection turns elsewhere. During a crisis over her infidelity, he emerges as an unforgettably valiant character: vulnerable, hurt, bewildered, though never without patience. This novella's quietly dramatic resolution is both appropriate and rewarding.
Copyright 1987 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Library Journal

These five stories and one novella catch the Sixties generation in middle age, at moments of reconsideration and regret. "I am thirty-five years old and it seems to me that I have arrived at the age of grief," says the title tale's protagonist, stricken by the loss of his wife's love. In "Long Distance" an emotional drifter faces the consequences of self-absorption at a family Christmas gathering. The other selections depict sensitive women shattered as marriages and friendships end, a calculating personality who tricks an acquaintance into fatherhood, and a former violent radical longing for her abandoned home. Disturbing yet recognizable characters and Smiley's knack for dialogue and the telling detail make these narratives memorable. Recommended for most fiction collections. Starr E. Smith, Georgetown Univ. Lib., Washington, D.C.
Copyright 1987 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Anchor; Reprint edition (June 11, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385721870
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385721875
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.5 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #190,227 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on June 14, 1999
Format: Paperback
I first read this book ten years ago and loved it. Rereading it was just as rewarding. Now I am married and a mother and I find the story "The Age of Grief" captures aspects of marriage not usually described. What is it like to be knocked down by illness as a family, parents needing to muster up energy to care for sick children when they are wracked with aches and exhaustion themselves? Jane Smiley delineates such moments and portrays marriage with great insight.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
I think Jane Smiley is similar to Anne Tyler in her ability to understand ordinary people and the significance of home and family. Her characters have exceptional (sometime unbelievable) abilities of introspection and self-examination. They also seem to live somewhat muffled lives. Emotion is there, but it is observed rather than felt.
These stories move slowly, building up layers of character and atmosphere through observations and spare dialogue. The last story, "The Age of Grief", made me think of Henry James novels like "Portrait of a Lady." Here we are looking very closely at daily behavior, signals and symbols that pass between people, the subdued drama of everyday life.
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Format: Paperback
I picked this up after the end of a relationship in the same spirit that I listen to sad songs-- to amplify my own emotions, remember that others have been there too, and gain some release. "The Age of Grief" was good therapy!
The most wonderful story, in my opinion, was a heartbreaker called "Long Distance," in which a man released from a visit from a girl he no longer loves by circumstances realizes how her grief will be something he never gets over. This story is short and clean and unforgettable.
The title novella is powerful on so many levels-- told from the pov of a man who realizes his wife has fallen for someone else and is desperate not to let her tell him about it, it is such a convincing portrait of a marriage, of family, of the layers of fear and forgiveness that intimacy brings. One of the children gets a dangerously high fever and the terror and the bonds of love remind us that infidelity is sometimes part of a relationship, not its definition.
The only reason I didn't give this five stars is because while all of the stories are quick reads, well-written-- as is all of Smiley's work-- and occasionally even very funny, not all of them seem as grounded in the poignancy of emotional turning points. I was rather bored with "Dynamite," in which an aging underground movement protester from the sixties decides to reconnect with her family. That is to say, I didn't really think we needed that bit of plot-- I was far more interested in the family dynamics than the dynamite.
"Jeffrey, Believe Me" is a bit lightweight, doesn't seem to be a part of this volume really, though perhaps it provides some comic relief.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Jane Smiley's gifting as a writer is evident in this collection of short stories, featuring a variety of narrators. Each story "sounds" different from the diction and style of the narrating conscious. Word choice and sentence construction also serve to create a different tone in each story. I enjoyed the various themes that Ms. Smiley explored including women's friendships, marriage, family relationships and power differences in relationships. Each story is populated with unique characters and voices.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I don't read many short stories because I'm often disappointed. It takes a very skilled writer to engage the reader in such a short time frame, plus provide a sense of completion at the end. Jane Smiley was more than able to do this. Her short stories and novella focus on relationships, especially married relationships, and each story was thought-provoking in a different way. The namesake-novella had incredible depth and a bittersweet resolution. These short stories are right up there with Raymond Carver and Alice Munro.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is a strong collection. Of course, "The Age of Grief" itself should get the most attention because of its length and its beauty. I found it thrilling that Smiley could create such depth in such short form, but she did in that story and it made question the characters' motives and their decisions.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Some of the short stories were ok but the novella was horrible. The parents didn't realize or care that they had a daughter with a mental disorder that needed treatment. I hated all of the characters. The story went on way too long. And it was a novella! I felt no empathy at all for Clare or David. They were passive and horrible.
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Format: Paperback
With all that has come after, I hope no one forgets the quality of Smiley's early work. If you start out with her later books, returning to this one will have its rewards.
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