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Object Lessons: The Paris Review Presents the Art of the Short Story Paperback – Deckle Edge, October 2, 2012
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“Hyperinteresting shoptalk from some of literary culture's best shops, and best talkers.” ―Kathryn Schulz, New York Magazine (Top 10 Books of 2012)
“The stories are indeed varied in their style, as the editors' note promises, but many of them left me with the same feeling: devastation.” ―The Christian Science Monitor
“Object Lessons [is] my new favorite gift book.” ―Elizabeth Taylor, The Chicago Tribune
“This thoughtful book will make you look at short fiction with new eyes.” ―Minneapolis Star Tribune
“As the ‘Best American' anthologies begin their annual take-over of bookstore shelf space this month, short story fans should look past those displays to find this collection curated from the archives of The Paris Review.” ―The Cleveland Plain Dealer
“The editors call this a guide for young writers and readers interested in literary technique, and the book achieves that purpose while also serving as a tribute to the role The Paris Review has played in maintaining the diversity of the short story form. The collection reminds us that good stories are always whispering into each other's ears.” ―Publishers Weekly
“A compendium of The Paris Review's short story hits, curated with the ambitious, aspiring writer in mind. … Jeffrey Eugenides' discussion of Denis Johnson's "Car Crash While Hitchhiking" captures that story's heartbreak and serves as an essay on the virtues of the form itself. … A smart showcase of a half-century's worth of pathways in fiction.” ―Kirkus
About the Author
Established in 1953, The Paris Review is America's preeminent literary magazine.
Lorin Stein is the editor of The Paris Review.
Sadie Stein is deputy editor of The Paris Review. They are not related.
Top Customer Reviews
In Object Lessons, some well known writers are each invited to pick one story from The Paris Review's past. I've read almost all the stories contained here before. It was fun to read quite a few of them again. My one quibble is that the writers have tended to dwell on the more depressing stories The Paris Review has published. With one exception, they've forgotten the humor. I don't get that bias. For many years, there was actually an annual humor prize associated with the magazine that came with a significant chunk of cash. Early and wonderful stories of TC Boyle, David Foster Wallace, and Rick Moody published in The Paris Review aren't found in this volume.Read more ›
Perhaps the problem is that the writers were asked to pick favorite stories. Writing with a truly intelligent critical eye about things one loves is difficult. Or perhaps it's the space available; the longest of the introductions is about three pages, which doesn't leave room for much specific insight. Whatever the reason, these mini-essays don't reveal much about "keys to success" or "the art of the short story" that readers of such an anthology couldn't work out on their own. They're more enthusiastic than analytic, with piles of superlatives about general, easily-observed features. Of course the situation doesn't call for term papers, but the success or failure of any short story is a complicated question, and virtue often rests in small, easy to miss things. A few writers do offer appropriately close readings, but even then they focus on broad variations in diction and similar comparatively simple points. (One of Dave Eggers' observations on James Salter's "Bangkok" would be quite powerful, except that it rests on a literal misreading of the text.) The introductions are well-written, affectionate, often poetic, not incisive about technique.
But enough about the introductions.Read more ›
Any reader expecting insightful analysis in the introductions will be disappointed. The tone is more gushing fan-boy than critical examination, the substance dominated more by empty, giddy compliments than practical "lessons". They resemble jacket blurbs more than meaningful commentary. When confronted with such overdone effusive praise, the tendency is to respond in one of two extremes: either conform (blindly accept their "expert" opinions as fact) or rebel (approach the works critically as a counterbalance). Of course, neither approach is fair to the stories themselves. The other practical problem with the introductions is that they often contain spoilers. I would suggest reading the stories first and then backtracking to the introductions.
This anthology is presented as "an indispensable resource for writers, students, and anyone else who wants to understand fiction from a writer's point of view." It claims to answer the question, "What does it take to write a great short story?" But it isn't the former and doesn't do the latter. Looking past its lofty claims, it's just a diverse collection of short stories linked by their publication in the same literary periodical. It can be judged on that criterion alone.
So how good are the stories?Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
What can you say about this great book but that it is a great work.Published 9 months ago by augustusmax
While I enjoyed a few of these stories immensely and some moderately so, there were several "misses" that were very hard to follow and I didn't enjoy reading very much. Read morePublished 13 months ago by Margaret Carmel
Nobody does it better (most of the time) than The Paris Review. Each 'object lesson' that precedes every story is a teaching and learning gem - almost mini short stories in... Read morePublished 18 months ago by Readerist
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OBJECT LESSONS collection of short stories by The Paris Review, copyright 2012, is for writers and readers who love to think off the page; those who thrive on creative... Read morePublished on October 18, 2013 by Shirley Mason
Object Lessons lives up to its aspiration: it compiles a collection that epitomizes the best short story writing--which isn't to say that every story will comparably titillate the... Read morePublished on August 6, 2013 by Davey Jones
The book is useful as it demonstrates many different styles and ways to tell a short story. Many of the stories are fantastic, some not so much to my liking.Published on June 17, 2013 by robert
I am a writer, so I'm always on the look out for a book to learn more about my craft. This book seemed to be both a collection of short stories which I could enjoy reading and a... Read morePublished on May 21, 2013 by Lynnda Ell
Object lessons was a collection of morose and bizarre far-fetched ruminations. I just couldn't fi nd a thread of something that I could say I enjoyed.Published on February 7, 2013 by schmeagle