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Crackpot Palace: Stories Paperback – August 14, 2012
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From Publishers Weekly
“We should be grateful that alongside the firm of Updike, Cheever, Ford & Company there exists, in both fiction and film, an American tradition that depicts the suburbs as places of wonder rather than stultification, discovery rather than predictability.” (New York Newsday)
“Think Ray Bradbury’s Green Town stories, Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird and Stephen King’s The Body (made into the film Stand by Me) and you get an idea of the tone of Ford’s latest fine work. Grade: A” (Rocky Mountain News)
“The trilogy [The Physiognomy, Memoranda, and The Beyond] is simply brilliant and constitutes a modern masterwork of fantasy.” (Terri Windling, "Top Twenty Fantasy Novels of 2001" from Year's Best Fantasy & Horror vol. 15)
“The Shadow Year captures the totality of a lived period, its actualities and its dreams, its mundane essentials and its odd subjective imperatives; it is a work of episodic beauty and mercurial significance.” (Nick Gevers, Locus)
“Surreal, unsettling, and more than a little weird. Ford has a rare gift for evoking mood with just a few well-chosen words and for creating living, breathing characters with only a few lines of dialogue.” (Booklist)
“Spooky and hypnotic...Recommended for all public libraries.” (Library Journal)
“Properly creepy, but from time to time deliciously funny and heart-breakingly poignant, too.” (Kirkus Reviews (starred review))
“Properly creepy, but from time to time deliciously funny and heart-breakingly poignant, too. For those of you—and you know who you are—who think the indispensable element for good genre fiction is good writing, this is not to be missed.” (Kirkus Review, Starred)
“Jeffrey Ford’s latest triumph, THE SHADOW YEAR, is as haunting as it is humorous…readers will recognize real talent in Ford’s vivid, unerring voice.” (Louisville Courier Journal on THE SHADOW YEAR)
“Ford travels deep into the wild country that is childhood in this novel …the observations and adventures of these sharp, wayward children provide more than enough depth to be satisfying.” (New York Times on THE SHADOW YEAR)
“Children are the original magic realists. The effects that novelists of a postmodern bent must strive for come naturally to the young, a truth given inventive realization in this wonderful quasi-mystery tale by Jeffrey Ford.” (Boston Globe on THE SHADOW YEAR)
“A collection of surreal, melancholy stories dealing with everything from worlds of the drifting dead to drunken tree parties. Ford is the author of the superlative, creepy Well-Built City trilogy and his writing is both powerful and disturbing in the best possible way.” (Gawker on THE DROWNED LIFE)
“[Ford’s] writing is both powerful and disturbing in the best possible way.” (io9 on Jeffrey Ford)
“The 16 stories in this collection are a perfect introduction to Ford’s work and illustrate the vast range of his imagination…If you haven’t discovered Ford, it’s time you did. His carefully crafted novels and short stories are all top-notch. Grade: A.” (Rocky Mountain News)
Top Customer Reviews
Jeff has taught American Lit - the old stuff. And that's here in the writing: Irving, Hawthorne, Melville a solid splash of Poe are present as he shows us the Wonder and Hell of exurban New Jersey in "Down Atsion Road," "The Double of My Double is not My Double," and "86 Deathdick Road."
But he's not just a spec fiction Updike or Cheever. The range is wide: He's got a city in a bottle with "Daltharee," follows H.G. Wells in "After Moreau." Ganesha talks in the story of that name. Ford's evocation of the simultaneous mundanity and surrealism in mid-20th Century Catholicism is superb (trust me on this) in "The War Between Heaven and Hell Wallpaper."
There are twenty stories in here and I don't think there's a dud. My favorite?
Well, I did a reading with Jeff one night in New York and insisted on going first because it's not wise to try and follow him. What he came up with was "Polka Dots and Moonbeams"
It's a 1940 black and white early noir film the kind with a leading man who played bad guys in A pictures and a leading lady who's better remembered for her divorces than her movies. Except that in the way of Ford a door opens into a wilder, darker place where 1940 movies, sadly, never went.
But now you can. Go buy the book.
The fire-eater never even turned around but kept working like he was nonunion.
I dare you not to chuckle at that one. It's just one of many great lines that speak to Ford's gifts as a storyteller. His tales have a pretty fierce duality. He packages humor with dark, dark content to great effect. Those who've read his story "The Drowned Life" can expect a lot more of that here.
And Ford's writing is just getting better. While some of the tales in this collection were written many years ago, most of them are of a recent vintage. I've read all of his collections, and this one is the best so far.
Most pitchers lose their fastball over time, and sometimes that analogy has some appropriate overlap with fiction writers. I'm happy to say that, in the case of Jeffrey Ford, his heater is alive and well.
Ford's eye for detail and ability to turn a phrase are on display in his more nostalgic stories. That nostalgia, by the way, isn't of the wondrous, rosy, geez-life-is-great variety. It's the realistic, pragmatic nostalgia that accompanies the memories we've all had of struggling through a period of time, of living in crappy apartments over crowded alleys. "Every Richie There Is" is a great example of this. It's a short examination of those people in our lives that become symbols of a certain time and place. We all know a Richie--he's abrasive and strange and frail and brash; he imposes on others and, though we may not want to talk to him every day, we feel a little weird about the days in which we don't.Read more ›
Perhaps it's because many of the stories seem so familiar: some evoke Bradbury, some Vance, others Poe. The similarity with Gaiman is striking. Overall, it feels derivative. If you like the aforementioned authors and are hungry for more in the same vein, you may find this collection satisfying, but Bradbury is more lyrical, Vance's stories more richly imagined, and Poe has no equal. Each story in Crackpot Palace has a short commentary by the author, and I think this contributes to my reaction: it makes them feel like pastiche.
That said, Ford is a good storyteller, and when he finds his muse (especially "86 Deathdick Road") he's quite entertaining. There are just too few of these moments to make the collection compelling.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I agree with the Richard Bowes review; it's a little frustrating that this book, despite its high rating, isn't getting more recognition. Read morePublished 2 months ago by trevornewland
Jeffrey Ford's "Crackpot Palace" is an odd collection of short stories that range from the enlightening to the downright bizarre. Read morePublished 17 months ago by Paul L.
This brilliant collection will dig its way into your imagination and linger there well after you put it down. Read morePublished on April 24, 2014 by Rob E. Boley
The author is somewhat famous but I can't figure out why. His writing is difficult and he uses crude language apparently to impress some of his fans.Published on June 30, 2013 by John T. Holmes
I'd never heard of Jeffrey Ford before stumbling upon this collection. Lucky for me it turns out he's an established author with a lot of different works to buy, because I found... Read morePublished on December 15, 2012 by Jeff Ryan
Bought this based on an Amazon recommendation and the attendant reviews and wound up reading it on a cross-country plane. Read morePublished on December 10, 2012 by Karl Erich Martell
Another great collection.
My favorites include:
86 Deathdick Road
The Hag's Peak Affair
The Double of My Double Is Not My Double
Daltharee... Read more