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Further Adventures in the Restless Universe: Stories Paperback – March 1, 2010
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This month's Book With Buzz: "Little Fires Everywhere" by Celeste Ng
From the bestselling author of Everything I Never Told You, a riveting novel that traces the intertwined fates of the picture - perfect Richardson family and the enigmatic mother and daughter who upend their lives. See more
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From Publishers Weekly
In her elegant second collection (after the novel Carrying the Body), Raffel finds lyrical appeasement in the everyday concerns of raising children, being a dutiful daughter and wife, and simply enduring one's family. The mother of a seven-year-old son in Her Purchase is viewed as a master of the child's universe, teaching him everything he knows, exhausted by his constant asking of questions, yet amazed, too, that she can still cherish his happiness. Raffel employs mannered dialogue to artful effect throughout, such as the phone conversation between two sisters in The Interruption, in which one attempts to tell the story of how their great-aunt came from Poland to Chicago, but spirals into a halfhearted musing on frustrations in love. The mother-daughter getaway depicted in North of the Middle allows the pair to dissect their frozen relationship in conversations that underscore their inability to communicate. The Air and Its Relatives is a marvelous glimpse at the evolution of a father-daughter relationship through snapshots of his teaching her to drive and other telling flashbacks. Raffel's stripped-to-the-bone prose is a model of economy and grace. (Mar.)
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With 21 stories in just under 100 pages, and in prose as lean and demanding as poetry, Raffel’s slender second collection of short fiction holds a surprising amount of compassion and wisdom between its covers. Like those of Lydia Davis or Mary Robison, Raffel’s playful metaphors and vivid snapshots of domestic life offer joy and insight. Her characters, mostly disillusioned or fearful mothers and daughters, are ever hopeful in their daily endeavors to communicate with those they love most—their families. A woman takes her seven-year-old son on a museum tour, fighting to strike a balance between motherly instruction and allowing her son to discover things for himself. Unable to sleep, a man implores his dozing wife to confess the true account of a drowned woman she often repeats. A mother finds it easier to teach her son words in other languages than to keep her promise to tell him a bedtime story. These reflective, well-tempered fictions are bursting with energy, requiring readers to look more closely at the world around them. --Jonathan Fullmer
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Top customer reviews
Was further, excuse pun, enlightened by publisher (Not Raffel's) who just read . . .Universe thought the writing so utterly singular, moving & compelling that it was like nothing he's ever read. And since our culture is compelled to compare (though we need not ), he then said James Joyce - and quoted a few lines that brought me to epiphany - yes yes yes - Raffel is a bit like that; hadn't thought of this before. And I'd bet money Joyce isn't an influence. I suppose, if one is against the scan of prose &/or originality - they might call disjointed. Publisher spoke of the classic stories of Dubliners, not the novels.
When originality is bashed. And those with no ear trash music . . .well, that's not good. But FURTHER ADVENTURES IN THE RESTLESS UNIVERSE is beyond excellent.