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Reasons to Live Paperback – July 20, 1995
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 1986 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
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.
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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
As a writer I must have read about 10,000 short stories. Probably only a few hundred of those really I liked. Half a dozen changed my life. One of them is in this book.Published 15 months ago by Amazon Customer
Amy Hempel knows how to write short stories. Snapshots of life, with only relevant details, sometimes not even the details you need to fill in the gaps, are what she presents. Read morePublished on December 31, 2013 by PuroShaggy
Amy Hempel is a great short story writer . Her language is poetry and her characters real . She is always interesting.Published on March 30, 2013 by Ilene K. Millman
This book is great. I have read it several times. It will lift you up when you are down. Amy Hempel is a good writer. Her book is a pleasure to read. Read morePublished on February 17, 2012 by Consumer_Sovereignty
The book was received in very good condition and very quickly. I was prepared to wait a few weeks, it came within a few days. Thanks!Published on March 16, 2009 by Judith Brockway
After reading this collection, I fell in love with Amy Hempel. I'm a writing student, and her book was on several reccommended reading lists, so about a year and a half ago, I... Read morePublished on December 2, 2008 by Kaitlin L. Oldaker
I bought this book because it was recommended by Chuck Palahniuk on his website. Reading it you can definitely see that it influenced him in his writings. Read morePublished on July 3, 2007 by Amazon Customer