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Female Trouble: Stories Hardcover – April 2, 2002

4.6 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Uneven but deeply affecting, Nelson's fourth story collection (she's also written three novels) maps the dimensions of the human usually female heart, both in love and in grief. Troubles, as the title suggests, abound: affairs, infertility, mental illness, death. But so does humor (a vacation home where a family gathers "to remind themselves how badly they got along" and a kind of hard-won, essential wisdom ("all a person could do was the right thing," a grieving widow muses, as she reconciles herself to a simultaneously "merciful" and "treacherous" future.) In the title story, a well-meaning but emotionally stunted man attempting to understand the three women in his life the matronly woman he lives with, the pregnant former girlfriend who moves in and the suicidal mental patient he takes for a lover comes to the conclusion that their wants and needs are so complicated that it's time he left town. However poorly that may reflect on him, readers will be tempted to nod in sympathy: Nelson's women in particular tend toward desperation and upheaval. And they have appetites if life were a jukebox, they want the volume turned up loud. Yet their desires are basic: to love and to be loved, to have children, to protect them. The notion of caregiving its successes and failures plays an important role in these stories: in "Loose Cannon" and "Ball Peen," brothers, however unequipped to handle their own lives, try to nurture struggling sisters; in "Palisades," a woman adrift in a vacation town becomes the confidante to a husband and a wife, who tell her the kinds of things they can't tell each other. Cheerful uplifting moments may be rare, but this collection's tales of men and women navigating life in all its messiness demonstrate the prowess of a truly accomplished writer.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Since Nelson has won an O. Henry Prize and the Flannery O'Connor, PEN/Nelson Algren, and Heartland awards, it seems right for The New Yorker to name her one of the 20 best writers of the 21st century. Here's her new collection.
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Scribner; First Edition edition (April 2, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 074321871X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743218719
  • Product Dimensions: 5.7 x 0.9 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,787,251 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Antonya Nelson's stock in trade is her laser-like understanding of and her affinity for the foibles and miss-steps of we mortal human beings. Anyone familiar with her "Nobody's Girl" or in particular "Living to Tell" can attest to that.
In "Female Trouble" she sets her sights on a close to her heart, I would assume subject, women: Professional women, divorced women, suicidal women, mother-earth women, young women and old women, pregnant women and the men who are fortunate enough to cross their paths.
"Female Trouble" is a short story collection. And I know I am going to get a lot of grief for this but it is a form of which I am not particularly fond. Ideally, a short story should be all of a piece. You should not crave for more. The author has to quickly create a world, inhabit it with interesting characters and resolve the story so that the reader is satisfied at it's resolution. The first story of this collection, "Incognito" is very well written and the premise is unique: a close group of three high school friends create an imaginary person, one Dawn Wrigley and use this persona as a means to act out all of their adolescent fantasies. The problem is at this story's end I craved for more, wanted loose ends tied, needed more information, felt cheated.
On the other hand in "One Dog is People," Nelson creates a world in which the basic premise of the story is tied up in a logical fashion with no lose ends hanging. This story also includes some of her most incisive writing: "A few days later I was sitting in traffic after dropping the children off at school. I relied on their disappearance every day; I could not stand such thorough neediness. And yet, as soon as they'd been swept into their buildings...I missed them.
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Format: Hardcover
These stories are wonderful, very well-written, sharply observed. Nelson has an eye for detail that is so right on, so observant, filled with an underlying snappy wit. All of these stories are very strong and will motivate the reader to explore her novels. Enjoy.
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Format: Hardcover
I very much enjoyed this collection of short stories. Each one had at least one phrase or passage that was so succinct, so perfect, almost an exact description of a feeling or thought that the reader probably thought he or she was the only one to have ever had. The characters are believeable, complex, 3 dimensional. Each story was a little package that I wanted to savor before going on to the next. A strong collection.
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Format: Hardcover
Antonya Nelson's collection of short stories, "Female Trouble", revolves around just that: women who are having trouble, often because of their womanhood or one of its attendant issues. Nelson manages to explore this over-exposed territory with enough insight and originality, and little enough shrill Bridget-Jones-ripoff whining, to make her stories worth reading.
And they're good stories. Nelson does everything a writer of short stories should do. She's skilled at crafting character and plot, her command of language is unwavering, and each story is self-contained, unique, and distinct from the others in the collection.
Still, something is missing. This is a good book, but not a great one. Nelson pulls her punches. Her subtlety and sense of balance - characters who are odd but not crazy, plotlines that are curious but not implausible - is what makes the collection worthwhile, but Nelson doesn't seem to know when to be direct. Her writing is good, but too muted to be powerful, and it's frustrating to read. She has great ideas, well-developed characters, the perfect setup, and then you turn the page and it's over. The stories all end in the proper story-ending way, with a climax and resolution, but there's no bang. Nearly every story left me wishing for just one more paragraph - that perfect event or line of dialogue or turn of phrase - something to push me over the edge from interested to affected, something to make her stories less strange and more profound.
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