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Nice Big American Baby Paperback – February 14, 2006
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Top Customer Reviews
Budnitz writes beautifully. Her writing is filled with interesting images, and yet she never forgets her characters and plots. These stories are rich but not dense. I can strongly recommend this book, and I look forward to reading more of Budnitz's work.
The anxiety of motherhood runs through the best of the stories in this collection. In addition to "Where we come from," the teasingly titled "miracle" (first published in The New Yorker) describes a situation in which the normal ambivalence of new parents is magnified by a decidedly unusual child.
For Budnitz, motherhood is the flip side of daughterhood: "Where we come from" starts with the mother as young daughter. "Flush," perhaps the best in the collection, is a straightforward, poignant story of the intertwined fates of mothers and daughters, while "Visitors" examines the gap and alienation (perhaps literally) between them. And "Motherland," which begins as a thought experiment about "an island of mothers," suddenly transforms into an evocative wish to transcend the roles we are assigned as daughters - and sons.
The weakest stories in the collection explore the consequences of motherhood gone wrong - the Big Spoiled American Baby. "Nadia" highlights the ego- /ethno-centrism of the Baby when she's all grown up, but it soon veers too far into caricaturing the unsympathetic narrator. "Elephant and boy" suffers from a similar weakness in exploring a similar theme. On the other hand, "Preparedness," featuring the President as Big Baby, successfully repackages tired hippie sentiments into a gentle fairy tale.Read more ›
What Ms. Budnitz does amazingly well is despite fantastical plots and truly hilarious writing, she taps into the reader's feelings and the result is not always pleasant. In "Miracle" we are exposed to a baby of fantastic density and ambiguous race. Although the events are extraordinary, the feelings of burden, disconnection, love, and guilt are commonplace to the reader. The effect reminds me of Tim O'Brien's magnificent "How to Tell a True War Story" as Ms. Budnitz allows herself complete freedom in her plot to achieve her goal to get the reader to feel wants she needs you to feel. There will be some like my mother, who after reading "Miracle" in The New Yorker, called me very troubled by the story with the review of, "you are not suppose to tap into those feelings about your own baby", but what is undeniable is how affecting the stories can be.
The result are stories about people who prefer nuclear holocaust drills to real-life (as in "Preparedness" my favorite story in the collection) or racism turned in the spreading of plague or supposed do-gooders doing repulsive acts. Each of these stories requires reflection, re-reading, and conversation. I made more phone calls to friends while reading this collection than any other that I can remember.
What is also undeniable is how truly skilled Ms. Budnitz is with language.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
It annoys me that the pieces have such strong beginings and weak ends. It's a buzz kill.Published on July 10, 2010 by Christy Leigh Stewart
Judy Budnitz has created masterpieces. These stories are explored with lucid themes and magical depth. Read morePublished on October 14, 2007 by Arienette Cervantes
I am enjoying reading these short stories. Each one is very unique, and quite creative.Published on May 29, 2007 by K. Ward
A mixed bag of short stories. What one reviewer called "inventiveness" often strays into manipulation, pseudomysticism, and nonsense, yet there are several gems among these tales. Read morePublished on August 22, 2005 by R. Post
In Nice Big American Baby, this still young writer makes a big comeback, after some five years, and brings the whole genre of short fiction with her. Read morePublished on March 23, 2005 by Alexander P. de Lucena