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Reasons to Live Paperback – July 20, 1995

4.1 out of 5 stars 26 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Two themes run through the 15 stories collected here: an intense regret at life's missed connections and a sharp, wittily observed sense of what it takes to survive. PW praised Hempel's "many gifts, including her deliciously absurd sense of the trivia we all carry around with us and her comic obsession with animals."
Copyright 1986 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From the Publisher

Hempel's now-classic collection of short fiction is peopled by complex characters who have discovered that their safety nets are not dependable and who must now learn to balance on the threads of wit, irony, and spirit.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial; Harperperennial ed. edition (July 20, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060976721
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060976729
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.3 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #184,420 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I first found Amy Hempel in college. A perceptive, smart instructor assigned me "The Cemetery Where Al Jolson is Buried." It was a shock to the system. For the first time in years words on a page made me weep. I was instantly hooked on Amy Hempel.

This is, I believe, her greatest collection. From first page to last it is an extraordinary look into the human condition. The two real standouts are the aforemention "Al Jolson" and a story called "Nashville Gone to Ashes."

Nashville is about the recent widdow of a veterinarian. Saying it that way seems to short it a bit. Like all of Ms Hempel's stories, Nashville is about human suffering, courage, love, despair and being human.

Read these stories and you will weep.
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Format: Paperback
I knew this would be a great collection when I spotted this at the bookstore. Reasons to Live contains a collection of fifteen wonderful, witty and sometimes poignant short stories that make you think of the loss of opportunities one has in life. Amy Hempel, who also wrote the beautiful Tumble Home, writes with aplomb and insight of a classic writer. My favorite stories are "Nashville Gone to Ashes," "Going," "Pool Night," and "Why I'm Here." Once again, Amy Hempel has floored me with another impressive, beautiful collection. I will definitely give her other books a whirl.
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Format: Paperback
Thank goodness for Amy Hempel, egging on those of us who write short stories by constantly keeping her breathtaking prose to under fifty pages.

I had a writing teacher who warned us against trying to write after reading Amy, because we would feel compelled to try to emulate her. Of course this is almost always true with influence, but Amy Hempel's writing is like a drug. Reading her words makes the idea of writing newly exciting. It's a challenge to keep up with her, to capture the world in such perfectly crafted, concise sentences, to exercise such restraint and hint at such powerful emotions underneath.

I could have written this for any of Amy's work, especially her recently published collected works, but I chose "Reasons to Live" because of "The Man in Bogota" and "Celia is Back," my two personal favorites.

If you're a writer, read on with caution; if not, I promise Amy will make you want to start.
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Format: Paperback
1. Amy Hempel is one of the best kept secrets of modern fiction. 2. The stories say so much without saying too much. 3. The characters earn your compassion. 4. "In the cemetary where Al Jolson" is buried is the greatest short story I have ever read. 5. If you have ever grieved or felt loss, you will relate to these stories.
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Format: Paperback
The short stories in "Reasons to Live" are unlike anything else I have read in fiction. The amount of emotion poured into each story and into each character is astounding for the lack of detail that each tale contains. Nowhere within "Reasons to Live" was I let down or was I not effected by the sheer beauty of Hempel's prose or her ability to bring her characters to life. Amy Hempel truly has the ability to change the way we look at our daily lives, causing us to find meaning even in the smallest details that we would otherwise overlook.
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Format: Paperback
There are many reasons to read Amy Hempel's superb debut, "Reasons to Live". Here you have five of them:

1- Less Is More: She writes like nobody with fewer words than anyone. I used to think that Raymond Carver was minimalist (although he didn't like this label). Silly me. Hempel is able to use fewer words than him. Her style is very economic displaying only the very necessary.

2 - "In The Cemetery Where Al Jonson Is Buried": One of the best short stories written by any writer anywhere. Reportedly her first text, Hempel has debuted with assurance and grace. A whole live passes in front of our eyes in less than 20 pages.

3 - People: Hempel writes about human beings, and not big Historical Facts. Thank God. Many people may look down on writers like her - also Carver, Alice Munro etc - because the readers have the stupid feeling of not being learning anything. In the end of one of her stories (any of them) we can have the feeling of knowing the world a little better. And this is priceless.

4 - Images: Imagine a plastic Jesus figure that can breath. Now imagine the amazement of a character looking at it and asking for a miracle. Now imagine you, as a reader, being swallowed by this situation. Got the picture?

5 - Reasons to Live: This collection is populated by people trying to find a better reason to stay alive. There are many, they just have to find them. Hempel's way of approaching this people is delicate and complex. We couldn't ask for more.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
One of my favorite author's, Chuck Palahniuk, turned me on to Hempel. If he's a fan, I guarantee I'd be a fan too. She definitely has a unique voice. In a story about her and a roommate living on the beach, they are drinking one night and Hempel explains her roommate walks to her bedroom like a 'completed jigsaw puzzle,' That's a fantastic way to allude or compare a person. She's a really unique individual and writer. If Palahniuks a fan, I don't see how she couldn't be respected. Great Job Amy Hempel.
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