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Don't Read This Book If You're Stupid: Stories Paperback – November 3, 2001
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"Sly and full of thirtysomething angst. Although stepping into Fischer's world may be a dark and cynical thrill, a thrill it is."--Booklist
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Top Customer Reviews
Fischer has always been a master of character development-he's even rendered a 5000 year old bowl a convincing main character in The Collector Collector-and that skill is on full display in these stories, even though a couple of them are very short. The characters may be fully developed-are fully developed--but are also quite loathsome on the whole.
The result is a book that is funny, insightful-and a bit put offing. These are stories about people on the margins of society-losers, whiners, and predators. I appreciated the skill and talent on display in every story-I actually liked only a couple of them.
Fair warning should be made: The book has moments of genuine raunchiness-both just general icky raunchiness and a fair amount of sexual raunchiness. Nothing particularly egregious, but in sufficient volume and sufficient intensity to warrant those who have a problem with that sort of thing to think twice before diving in.
The short story is obviously a form Fischer can excel in. I hope one day he'll write a series of stories more in line with the tenor of his novels. That, I suspect, would be a book I could both appreciate and like as well.
The highlights of this collection are "We Ate the Chef," which explores a Web salesman's frustrations while he takes a French vacation; "Portrait of the Artist as a Foaming Deathmonger," which tells the story of a narcissistic, failed painter who invents a manipulative "art form" he aptly names the "grabby"; and "I Like Being Killed," which probes a female comedian's greedy love life and acrimonious behavior, on- and-off-stage. The three share the theme of egoism.
"Ice Tonight in the Hearts of Young Visitors" introduces young journalists at the site of a revolution; "Then They Say You're Drunk" is about a stand-in for a solicitor with a cruelty towards street people; "Bookcruncher" is an entertaining story about a devout, dispossessed reader who attempts to read every written book; and "Fifty Uselessnesses" is about a poor fellow whose love for the wild West constitutes his only excitement in the face of his emasculating "proper job."
Other than self-absorption, dampening jobs and materialism are at least lightly touched upon.
My only gripe is with a part of the writing style. Tibor Fischer examines his characters' minds by showing their ratiocination in his sentences. I prefer reading terse, stark sentences; Fischer, on the other hand, will layer "althoughs" on "althoughs" and it gets somewhat tedious to read. It's like straining to eke out the benefits of a first-person narrative into third-person. Others like it, though.
That said, this is a great collection of mordant fun that I would recommend to anyone who appreciates some dark humor.
Anyway, Fischer is one of my favorite authors. I really enjoyed "The Collector Collector" and "The Thought Gang."
Both were superb -much better than this collection of stories.
Admittedly, I did laugh a few times-so I guess all was not forsaken.