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She Loves Me Not: New and Selected Stories Hardcover – November 13, 2012

4.2 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Hansen’s (A Wild Surge of Guilty Passion, 2011) rich collection of new and selected stories blends the well-traveled landscape of the past and modern, cerebral perspectives both restless and uncompromising. “Wilde in Omaha” follows an eager journalist trailing Oscar Wilde in the early 1880s, and the two spend time together during one of the young eccentric’s lecture stops. “Wickedness” moves as quickly as the sudden, devastating Nebraska storm it conjures. In “Playland,” an amusement park created from a 1918 agricultural exhibition is the setting for 17-year-old Bijou, who is torn between her older, disabled-corporal boyfriend and the advances of her egocentric cousin. “A Hazard of New Fortunes” follows a son as he cleans out his dead parents’ apartment; his own insecurities are compounded when he meets the downstairs neighbor. The eerie title tale follows Skeeter and the complications involved with the botched killing of his lover’s husband. The collection’s 19 stories cover a diverse range, from love to murder for hire, dementia, and exile, and are written with precision and depth. --Leah Strauss


"Unforgettable stories, each utterly different from the one before. ... This is writing that slows the breathing." — San Francisco Chronicle

"Extraordinary ... the work of an accomplished craftsman and a superb storyteller. The title story is an absolutely stunning portrayal of a physical place on the Earth. Nebraska — the state, the place — takes on the attributes of a living force, a character in itself, and the effect is a powerful, almost supernatural personification of geography and human culture. You watch the small prairie towns as they live and die. . . Ron Hansen's stories are powered by inexorable currents of fate ... [His] talent for sensuous detail travels very well — to the late 1800's, to the 1940's, to the present day ... With him ... we hear the sound of time passing, the rumble of destiny." — New York Times Book Review

"The land breathing, the sound of the wind, the rush of trains across the empty flatness of a Nebraska midnight. In all, it's the book I expected from Ron Hansen — rich in its art, high in its thematic reach, resonating with the complexities of a dense and fully realized fictional world." — Tim O'Brien

"Beautifully crafted stories. ... Wickedness, evil, malice is called by name; and for Hansen's people the snake in the garden never fails to appear." — New York Times

"Just as Raymond Carver was identified with a Pacific Northwest populated by blue-collar workers, and just as Richard Ford has crafted a Montana full of drifters, so Ron Hansen has carved out his own geographical niche. His Nebraska is a distinctive mix of 19th-century settlers and 1980's breadwinners, of sudden storms and life-long yearnings, of lost souls stranded in the middle of nowhere. It should put him on the short-story map." — USA Today

"Nebraska depicts a rowdy, changing American West with wit and brawny lyricism, in voices ranging from hip to tender, the stories gathered here are as diverse and expansive as the country they celebrate....References to America's heartland abound throughout the book and serve as a central metaphor for what's close to American hearts, what connects us: dreams, myths and possibilities as vast as the Great Plains. Wise and smart alecky, creaking with legend and crackling with modernisms, these tales are about American obsession past and present." — Washington Post Book World

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Scribner; 1St Edition edition (November 13, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1451617585
  • ISBN-13: 978-1451617580
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.2 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,040,284 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
If I could be a writer I'd want to be Ron Hansen. It's not about the action with him. It's about what events and actions mean in the lives of his characters. It's about significance.

This book is a collection of Hansen's short stories, some republished from an earlier collection, Nebraska, and some newly published. Although I had read Nebraska years ago, I didn't mind at all re-reading those republished stories. Hansen is a writer who bears reading over and over. One in particular, Wickedness, is a story that still haunts me with its depictions of lives lost in a sudden freeze during a Nebraska winter. The depictions have the feel of reality, so much so that I left the story believing, rightly or wrongly, that it wasn't fiction -- if fiction, it's the kind of fiction that merits the over-used "truer than fact" label.

Some of these stories strike what to me is a different tone for Hansen -- a farcical tone I haven't appreciated in him before. The title story, She Loves Me Not, is an example, with characters and events spiraling away at a right angle from anything "normal".

I think what makes these stories, and Hansen's writing in general, so engrossing is his ability to disclose the depth of every human life in them. It's as if every character is experienced in the first person. He is telling the autobiographies of each character, and the story is their intersection.

If you haven't read any of Hansen's novels or short stories, this is not a bad place to start. It contains some samples of his historical fiction, in the tough portrayals of life in Nebraska, drawn out in larger form in novels like Desperadoes and The Assassination of Jesse James. It also contains those character studies of desperate or doomed characters, as in A Wild Surge of Guilty Passion. If you read these stories, you'll want to move on to those longer, fuller novels as well.
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Format: Hardcover
The nineteen stories in Ron Hansen's new collection, She Loves Me Not, provide readers who love short fiction with a tasty smorgasbord. Through efficiency and precision, Hansen drew me into the lives and settings of people whose behavior displays a wide range of human nature. I found myself reading two stories in the morning and two in the evening as a way to pace myself and reflect on each one individually. Readers who savor fine writing and enjoy diverse characters and geography are those most likely to enjoy this collection.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Writing elegant textured sentences, Ron Hansen evokes tantalizing scenes and colorful characters but mainly the vast mysteries of the human condition.

He starts with two tales from 1880s Nebraska. WILDE IN OMAHA introduces the reader to the cutting wit of Oscar Wilde, who entertains prominent citizens at a dinner and presentation. Wilde's witticisms never cease: "A gentleman is one who never hurts anyone's feelings unintentionally." "I really must quit now. I'll empty myself of all thought and opinion and find I've become electable." On January 12, 1888, a once-in-a-century blizzard struck Nebraska, pure WICKEDNESS. "Horizontal snow that was hard and dry as salt dashed and seethed over everything." Hansen recounts how locals, accustomed to not changing their routines during ubiquitous winter snowstorms, freeze and die in the minus thirty-five degrees blizzard that "seemed to have a personality and hateful intention."

In NEBRASKA, serene beauty defines the landscape, the Democrat River, "the water slow as an oxcart, green as silage, croplands to the east, yards and houses to the west," and his vivid details capture a small town's heartbeat, as if from a scanning movie camera. Hansen slides deeper into Nebraska life with RED-LETTER DAYS, the diary of an aging golfer, who balances time between his favorite sport and everything else.

The author spins foreboding yarns in PLAYLAND, TRUE ROMANCE, and THE KILLERS, in which, Max beholds Rex as himself a generation ago and now as his deadly rival. But Hansen also displays laugh-out-loud humor (MY KIDS DOG), the emptiness of Alzheimer's (THE SLEEPWALKER), and aching sorrow (THE SPARROW).

My favorite stories cover working people striving higher.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Frankly, I was not aware of Ron Hansen before this book. He is flat out terrific. He not only spins a great yarn, he can turn a phrase with the best of them.
And from Omaha. Who would have thought?
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I’m old school, I admit it. I do tinker with structure when I’m writing, but not enough to take away from the major tenets of the short story or novel: character development, moving story forward in the Aristotlean manner of rising action, climax, denouement. These, while leaving participatory room for the reader.
I know other forms of tinkering occur in writing classes of various sorts, and one may forgive many things, but not robbing the reader of being properly entertained and/or informed.

Lest I be accused of curmudgeonly ways, I have to give Hansen his props: he’s not afraid to experiment. But in experimental mode, a writer can’t expect every test tube to turn lead to gold, an adage that the She Loves Me Not collection proves true. The author experiments here with a journalistic form of fiction in the charming “Wilde in Oklahoma.” He wrote “Nebraska” trying to see if narrative alone can carry the story. He toys with flash fiction in “The Sleepwalker.” And in “The Theft,” he tries to resolve character and storyline in a final sentence or two, a piece perhaps too short to carry out his designs. In the title story, an otherwise engaging tale, his narrator’s voice seems counter to his characters and storyline.

The popularity of story collections doesn’t wane, however; such collections are a repository for the odd scribbles of writers both learning the craft and of those wishing to toy with the tried and true. I’ve always found these collections unsatisfying for these reasons - the best foot is rarely being put forward in such a collection.

Still, Hansen imprints his stories with enough wit and talent to make the read worthwhile. But I would get his one at the local library, not buy it.

My Rating: 14 of 20 stars
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