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What We Were Doing and Where We Were Going (American Literature) Paperback – April 21, 2009

5.0 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

A too spare debut collection of five elegantly crafted stories by translator Searls (Rilke's The Inner Sky) explores the exquisite indignities suffered by those with rich inner lives. The well-read narrator of the dry 56 Water Street attempts to write a novel about a man who circles back to where he came from, much like the fastidious writer himself whose girlfriend is soon to leave him because he is unable to plan what happens next. The Cubicles is a delightful dig at the vacuous new economy of Northern California, wherein the narrator is ensconced in a nebulous position at the punnily nicknamed Prophet Corp. There, leading a life of Circean pleasures which keeps him from becoming a writer, he chronicles the other sad cube-dwellers. Self-consciously writerly, Searls's work possesses a schoolmarmish charm and hints at the fresh, smart talent he may one day become. (May)
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Review

"A series of highly imaginative and original takes on the contemporary world, both sophisticated and quirky, elegant and unique." --Edith Grossman

"Literature is dead, everyone knows that, and also--another thing everyone knows--all the great literature has already been written. But if we were somehow to begin bringing literature into the present day, we'd do it by updating, reimagining, rewriting, and then finally once and for all forgetting the past masters. That is what, in these funny, eclectic, and ultimately very contemporary stories, Damion Searls somehow manages to do." --Keith Gessen

"These stories not only read beautifully and feel true; I don't think I've ever read anything that seems at once so off-hand and so formally exacting. Damion Searls's work gives me an idea of how the short story can keep on going, what its future might be." --Benjamin Kunkel
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 101 pages
  • Publisher: Dalkey Archive Press; First edition (April 21, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1564785475
  • ISBN-13: 978-1564785473
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.3 x 8.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,484,637 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

By D. Golden on May 19, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
What We Were Doing and Where We Were Going is an amazing book. It challenges me and makes me want to keep on reading. The author, Damion Searls is fresh, new and invigorating. I look forward to reading more by this author.
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Format: Paperback
Everyone sees the world differently, and author Damion Searls brings readers his own perspective through a series of short fiction with "What We Were Doing and Where We Were Going". The anthology offers his own view of the world through a series of highly entertaining and unique stories. Funny, thought-provoking, and a page-turner, "What We Were Doing and Where We Were Going" is a read well worth the investment.
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Format: Paperback
Searls' book is a 100-page engine against inertia. The narrators of these exquisite stories are seeking the thing in their highly intellectualized lives that will "change you, drive you forward," "move you forward," and the book does the same: it reinvents--changes, drives, moves forward--the work of Gide, Hawthorne, Inoue, Nabokov, and Landolfi through its meta-fictional wit, part of which includes inveighing against originality while displaying it. And the book is witty, in style above all. Read it in a Soho café with plush velvet seats or on your lunch break in Silicon Valley, and you'll be the one smiling.
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This little book of five of Searls' short stories is enchanting. Just the thing for a hot summer day. Funny, quirky, filled with unbelievable characters who are unbelievable but nevertheless remind you of, yeah, that guy you went to grad school with. Whatever happened to him? My favorite was "56 Water Street" and Angela who tries them all out.

Searls has translated all the great writers, but his own fiction is fantastic.
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