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Jenny and the Jaws of Life: Short Stories Paperback – September 14, 2002
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Copyright 1987 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
This collection, errantly marketed as hilarious, blows away any short story book I read in college. It throws you curves, doesn't end the way you expect. It ends the way the character may end in real life. By changing or not changing, by having something unexpected and unexplainable occur, such as a car accident or cancer. You get the feeling that these are real people instead of archetypes following thier character arc.
Every writer should aspire to this level. Can't wait to read her new book.
2. There are definitely some pieces I enjoyed like Best of Betty and Resume. And I enjoyed the way this author describes things. But as far as the content of most of the stories, it felt like a bunch of really well-written but intensely disconnected sketches. There were many times I got to the end of a story and asked, what in the hell was that? What was the point? I don't get it (and yes, I **get** things -- no reviewer should insult other readers who don't like a certain kind of book). Apparently this book speaks to some people but if you like your philosophical fiction in comprehensible format, this book is not for you. I enjoy artistry but not obfuscation. It reminds me of a friend who says really deep things and is so in his own world, and I can tell he's saying something really deep but he's speaking so nebulously that I just don't get it. And I get frustrated and tell him to be clearer and repeat back what I think I'm hearing him say until he confirms that's what he meant. That's what this book is like. Father of Invention...what was that about? It feels like someone trying too hard...like performance art on paper.
3. I will add the disclaimer that I prefer more "storytelling" narrations like the Red Tent by Anita Diamant; She's Come Undone by Wally Lamb; Running With Scissors by Augusten Burroughs; Life of Pi by Yann Martel; God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy. Vonnegut. John Irving. So maybe this book just isn't for me. Just warning people that it may not be for you either if you prefer traditional stories to sketches.
Willetts' recognition of the miraculous in even the most small-minded desires is beautiful. Is it funny? Yes, but not always in the way that makes you laugh.
After I lent out the first and it was never returned I was more careful. But now the second one's lost as well. I wanted to read the stories again, so I recently bought three copies; two for lending, one for keeping (just to be on the safe side).
After finishing 1Q84, I needed a bit of a palate cleanser and this did the trick. The writing was tight, the subject matter was confronting, the stories were polished.
As with all anthologies, some appealed more than others but they were all worthwhile to various degrees. They tended to be acerbic, bittersweet, tragi-comedies that showcased empty lives with a cynical bite.
There is a skill to presenting sharp characterisation in a small slice-of-life and this author pulls it off with a well crafted collection. (But, for me, it is not in the same category as my favourite by her, The Writing Class)