- Paperback: 148 pages
- Publisher: Serving House Books (December 4, 2013)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0985849584
- ISBN-13: 978-0985849580
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.4 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 9.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 30 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,913,364 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Sympathetic People Paperback – December 4, 2013
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"Donna Baier Stein is a discovery. Her deceptively mild story-telling veers swiftly into the savage but often unacknowledged discontent of suburban life - wives struggling with marital disappointment and missed opportunities, celebrating and often betrayed by unexpected friendships - all explored with language that engages and surprises."
- C. Michael Curtis, Fiction Editor, The Atlantic
"Ms. Baier Stein's stories are powerful in both language and character . . . she balances a fierce wish to love and be loved with the hard reality of loss and failure, yet the yearning does not diminish. A profound accomplishment."
- Elizabeth Cox, author of The Slow Moon, The Ragged Way People Fall Out of Love
"Donna Baier Stein uncovers the sometimes heady glint of danger in relationships in a brilliantly edgy collection of stories that gets under your skin as even as it illuminates love, lust - and everything in between."
--Caroline Leavitt, New York Times bestselling author of Pictures of You and Is This Tomorrow
"Donna Baier Stein writes with the grace and precision of a poet . . .here is a writer who trusts not only herself, but her readers, who will be skillfully guided into coming to their own satisfying conclusions."
--Elizabeth Berg, New York Times bestselling author, most recently of Tapestry of Fortunes
"Stein crafts much more than a short story. She crafts memories. No doubt, readers will find one or two stories that they can really relate to or may even be walking that same road currently. The mark of great fiction is to have readers forget that it is fiction. Our author seems quite gifted at that."
- Devoted Mommy of Three blog
From the Inside Flap
Praise for "Sympathetic People":
"This is an interesting series of stories showing the emotions we all go through. Some stories will have you cry, some smile and some wonder about the decisions some make. Each story shows the consequences of someone's actions and what can happen when you face a fork and must decide what to do. The meaning is greater than what is seen for there is a hidden meaning in each decision and story. This is a collection of stories that will have you thinking deeply." - Books Are Love blog
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Top customer reviews
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Some characters are hopeful, while others are filled with regret. One ripples with humor, while others rumble with rage Throughout, Stein explores, through her memorable characters, the fragility of human relationships, of love, and of longing.
Her striking images surprise and illuminate, as in the best poetry. Conjecturing about the kind of day it was when her friend committed suicide, Stein writes of her character,
"Rita imagined it was sunny, the sky clear and mindless, a handful of clouds spattered like meringue."
Again, Stein's creativity shines when a granddaughter describes her dying grandmother.
"Nini's head nodded like the head of a dandelion gone to seed."
She compares rumors to fireworks in,
"Each firework display, like each rumor bandied about that summer, would trail off into the blank sky into a closed and weighted silence."
Those are just some of the passages that demonstrate Stein's mastery of language.
Each story goes beyond storytelling. Each poses important questions about life's choices, life's changes, life's endings, and life's
From this portrait of human beings, whose relationships are as fragile as glass, emerges an enduring collection of short stories.
Jill Farrer. Maplewood, NJ
The men in several of Baier Stein’s stories are more ambitious than romantic, and like to have things their way. Their careers as professionals generate a sense of entitlement, and the men often bring home the towering rages that they apparently can get away with at the firm or clinic.
It feels as if Baier Stein has given us an all-too-real window into the lives of the upper-middle and upper classes, and it’s enough to quell any envy of what goes on in their lives, even in the midst of a rotten economy. At the same time, the ups and downs of marriage and affairs still resonate with those of us who have more modest incomes.
The collection’s final story – “My Lovers #1-5, or Why I Hate Kenny Rogers” -- is a bittersweet look back at the narrator’s love life and friendships. The story is laugh-out-loud funny at times, yet also deftly deals with suicide and getting dumped – showcasing Baier Stein’s immense gifts as a storyteller and writer.
“Sympathetic People” is a joy to read because the stories are so well done – even though Baier Stein’s take on modern love left me unsettled because she tells the truth here – and it is not necessarily a pretty picture.