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One Hundred and Forty Five Stories in a Small Box: Hard to Admit and Harder to Escape, How the Water Feels to the Fishes, and Minor Robberies Hardcover – September 20, 2007

4.3 out of 5 stars 14 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Sarah Manguso is the author of a memoir, "The Two Kinds of Decay"; books of poetry, "Siste Viator" and "The Captain Lands in Paradise"; and a short-story collection, "Hard to Admit and Harder to Escape".

Dave Eggers is the bestselling author of seven books, including "A Hologram for the King", a finalist for the National Book Award; "Zeitoun", winner of the American Book Award and Dayton Literary Peace Prize; and" What Is the What", which was a finalist for the National Book Critics" "Circle Award and won France s "Prix Medici". That book, about Valentino" "Achak Deng, a survivor of the civil war in Sudan, gave birth to the Valentino Achak Deng Foundation, which operates a secondary school in South Sudan run by Mr. Deng. Eggers is the founder and editor of McSweeney s, an independent publishing house based in San Francisco that produces a quarterly journal, a monthly magazine, "The Believer: ", a" "quarterly DVD of short films and documentaries, " Wholphin", and an" "oral history series, Voice of Witness. In 2002, with Ninive Calegari he cofounded 826 Valencia, a nonprofit writing and tutoring center for youth in the Mission District of San Francisco. Local communities have since opened sister 826 centers in Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, Ann Arbor, Seattle, Boston, and Washington, D.C. Eggers is also the founder of ScholarMatch, a program that matches donors with students needing funds for college tuition. A native of Chicago, Eggers now lives in Northern California with his wife and two children.""
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 300 pages
  • Publisher: McSweeney's; 1St Edition edition (September 20, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 193241682X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1932416824
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 1.9 x 6.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #808,807 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
This box of stories is such a treat! The stories in each of the three books might come from the same tradition and share some sensibilities (the precision of language, lovingly crafted sentences), but each has its own voice, style, and character. And that's part of the pleasure: each book is a discovery! Dave Eggers's collection, for example, is full of miniature portraits, the characters (some named, others nameless) caught in strange predicaments (a boy named Charles, who never has his picture taken; a woman named Puma, who has so many friends she must find a way to escape them). In Sarah Manguso's book, a narrator alternates between peculiar experiences of the adult life and the memories of childhood, each childhood vignette a perfect life lesson (an incident with a cruel science teacher, an encounter with a class bully), though the outcome of each is wonderfully unexpected. Deb Olin Unferth's stories are mysterious and surreal (objects disappear in foreign countries, a woman is transformed into a machine and has an affair), often hilarious ("Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: A bit of a brat, so they say. But his wife loved him."), but also recognizable and heartbreaking.

And of course, like all McSweeney's books, this set is exquisitely made. A real treasure!
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Format: Hardcover
Unferth's Minor Robberies is a rare treat: at times metafictional, at times formally experimental, at times just plain wacky, these short-short stories delight without becoming glib. Standout stories include "Sickos" which features a "very vaguely, very religious" sex worker, "Give Them the Bag" a funny and strangely heart-breaking tale of sisters traveling together, and "Single Percent" a mathematical analysis of romantic commitment. Bring this lovely book with you everywhere so you can catch a story whenever you have a few minutes.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
All three books are excellent, but Egger's "How the Water Feels to the Fishes" is my favorite of all time.
Several short, funny, sad, and interesting stories that can be enjoyed quickly on the morning train commute or curled up on the couch on a lazy day off.
The set (like all of McSweeney's books) is very well-bound and will look beautiful on your bookshelf.
Highly recommend.
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Format: Hardcover
These stories are small, sharp, lovely, and giving. Read Deb Olin Unferth's "To Be Honest". Then read it again. And again. Each time it expands, contracts, twists into a tiny ball, then grows giant. This is an amazing trio of books in the prettiest of mcsweeney's packages. the perfect present (who isn't psyched for dave eggers in their stocking) if there are still any left. i bought 3.
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By Reader on November 19, 2007
Format: Hardcover
The three books in this set complement each other well. Although I enjoyed all three, Deb Olin Unferth's Minor Robberies stands out in this group. It is delightfully humorous, adventurous, and with a touch of mystery at times. Unferth's stories cover various topics from relationships, to families, to South American travel, to the lives of great composers and architects. Each story has its own life and ends up in a different place, sometimes an unexpected one. Her stories are accessible, I felt compelled several times to call my friends and read to them out loud. Unferth has a talent for changing an entire story around in one line, and sometimes changing it back with the next. All of the books in this set are carefully written, stylistically interesting and worth reading. I highly recommend it!
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Format: Hardcover
Manguso's volume is a wonderful trip into another person's growing mind. By far, this is the best third of the boxed set. It is an enjoyable series of interesting details, characters, thoughts, and anecdotes, and I would definitely recommend it. This would get four stars on its own.
[...]

Egger's volume isn't bad, considering I don't even really like the shallow genre of flash fiction, anyway. The best part of his writing in this box set is his introduction, something that's not even contained in his volume of work. I don't really understand the fascination with Dave Eggers, but this work isn't bad. This would get two stars on its own.
[...]

Unferth's volume, quite frankly, is horrendous. I hope I never read anything worse. I was seriously depressed while reading this, and, since I didn't want to pick it up to suffer any further, the depression lasted far longer than it needed to. It is, thankfully, a very short volume of rubbish. Honestly, the whole boxed set would have a greater value if this book weren't in it. This would get zero stars on its own and brings the entire average down sharply.
[...]
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I enjoy the increasingly popular and demanding form of the short-short and flash and wish there were more collections like these. Deb Olin Unferth's "Minor Robberies" is, far and away, the strongest book of the bunch, and it's this collection I'm focusing on and awarding 5 stars. The other two have their merits, but having read Manguso and Egger's other work, I don't think the flash is their forte.

Deb Olin Unferth's pieces are strange, cubist, experimental, funny, frightening. Some of them aren't stories at all, but assemblages of mercurial thought. Others evince the clear influence of Diane Williams and Lydia Davis, among others, but that's not a bad thing. The best of the bunch, in my opinion, are the more narrative-oriented stories, such as The Container, Soap, Managing, and---my favorite---Juan the Cell Phone Salesman.

I award the box five stars for Unferth's book alone. It'll be a collection I return to every now and then in the future.
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