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Sweet Talk Paperback – February 28, 2012

4.8 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

"Every so often that dead dog dreams me up again." This arresting image opens "Dog Heaven," the final story in an accomplished first collection by a young writer whose work has appeared in the New Yorker. Vaughn writes mainly in a wry, undistanced first-person voice, creating imaginative language for recognizable young women in varying circumstances and careers. The narrator of "We're on TV in the Universe" crashes into a patrol car in winter, looks up at the arriving policeman and sees "the crazed lights on the top of his car slinging snowfish around his head." In "The Architecture of California" a young wife comes to understand that her husband has made her best friend pregnant. A comparable unfaithfulness is at the heart of "Other Women," while "Snow Angel" tells of a young mother, trapped in the house with her two children during a three-day snowstorm, who manages--just--to keep her sanity and faith with her kids. Most powerful are the stories about Gemma, including "Kid MacArthur" and "Able, Baker, Charlie, Dog" in which Vaughn's clear-eyed, scalpel-sharp and affectionate observations of a distinctive childhood are delivered in graceful, honest prose.
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Library Journal

Five of the ten stories in Vaughn's collection are memory stories of her family. Filled with ambient light, eloquent in content and execution, they are about Gemma, who tells us "I grew up in the army," and her officer father, who like Vaughn's was stationed with his family at various army posts in the United States and abroad. In these stories Vaughn counterpoints the innocence and egocentricity of childhood with the understanding of an adult looking backwards, finally grasping what was happening, finally understanding that though her father was a tall man who loomed large over her childhood he was a failure. Vaughn's family stories are interspersed with stories about a grown woman, presumably Gemma. These stories are very contemporary in their contemplation of the loss of love, of errors in judgment, of the randomness of life, but they lack the luminosity of the family stories.
- Marcia Tager, Tenafly, N.J.
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Other Press; Reprint edition (February 28, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1590515161
  • ISBN-13: 978-1590515167
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.6 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,129,989 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on March 9, 2001
Format: Paperback
This is a collection of loosely connected stories about a young woman in contemporary America. All of the stories are outstanding, but one in particular, "Dog Heaven," is a masterpiece. I've read this story at least half a dozen times, and each time I read it, I'm moved to tears, and love it more. It's a story about a dog, of course; but also a story of the friendship of three young people. American writers excel at the short story, and "Dog Heaven" is one of the best stories ever written by an American.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Able, Baker, Charlie, Dog should be in every anthology. I was at a reception for Shannon Ravenel, the long time editor of the Best American Short Stories series (for about 17 years) and was fortunate enough to be able to speak with her for a few minutes. She singled out two stories from this collection (Able, Baker, Charlie, Dog & Dog Heaven) as genius. Keep in mind that the editor of the series reads about 10,000 (no exaggeration)/year and then consider how memorable memorable has to be. You should pick this book up immediately.
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By A Customer on February 28, 2012
Format: Paperback
This is a reprint of an excellent ten story collection first published as an anthology in 1990. Many of the entries deal with childhood, family and dogs who are key family members even after they go onto "Dog Heaven" ("Kid MacArthur" and the classic "Able, Baker, Charlie, Dog"). Others focus on young women dealing with issues like infidelity as an upset woman realizes her spouse impregnated her BFF in ``The Architecture of California'' and cheating is the norm for "Other Women." In "Snow Angel," a snowstorm traps a mother with no escape from her two children and in wintry weather a driver crashes into a police car musing "We're on TV in the Universe." This is a strong collection throughout summed up nicely by an extended family identity in "My Mother Breathing Light."

Harriet Klausner
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Not being a scholar, I must confess that I find it difficult to read literature written by women. But I heard Tobias Wolff read "Dog Heaven" on the "New Yorker" podcast and was immediately hooked. Stephanie Vaughn has a beautiful, clear voice and a definite talent to write great short stories in a simple, meaningful way while saying so much between the lines. Her writing style is more assessable than most modern literature authors. "Sweet Talk" is a powerful example of this.
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Format: Hardcover
I read this collection of amazing stories when it first came out, and have just read it again, and the stories bite even harder than the first time! The stories are sad, tough, and funnier than hell. I wish to see another book published by this gifted Stephanie Vaughn. She has so much to say -- and says it so very, very well.
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I'm not a great fan of short stories, but this collection was a wonderful read. Dog Heaven, which I first read in the New Yorker sometime in the late eighties, is my favorite short story of all time, and the rest of the stories in this collection stand up well when compared to it. The writing in all of the stories is concise, engaging, and sometimes delightfully surprising.
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