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Customer Reviews

4.0 out of 5 stars
20
The Age of Grief
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on September 25, 2015
Jane Smiley's gifting as a writer is evident in this collection of short stories, featuring a variety of narrators. Each story "sounds" different from the diction and style of the narrating conscious. Word choice and sentence construction also serve to create a different tone in each story. I enjoyed the various themes that Ms. Smiley explored including women's friendships, marriage, family relationships and power differences in relationships. Each story is populated with unique characters and voices.
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on March 29, 2016
I don't read many short stories because I'm often disappointed. It takes a very skilled writer to engage the reader in such a short time frame, plus provide a sense of completion at the end. Jane Smiley was more than able to do this. Her short stories and novella focus on relationships, especially married relationships, and each story was thought-provoking in a different way. The namesake-novella had incredible depth and a bittersweet resolution. These short stories are right up there with Raymond Carver and Alice Munro.
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I recommend this volume for the title novella, which has recently been made into a movie titled "The Secret Life of Dentists." Told from the point of view of a suspicious husband, it's a warm, very believable story which manages to carry some suspense until its resolution (no spoiler here). The narrator manages to be very interesting despite the humdrum surroundings. Highly recommended.

The short stories that precede the novella are good but not particularly noteworthy. Unlike the most recent reviewer, I actually liked Dynamite the most. Smiley is a gifted craftsman and an interesting writer. I've managed to overcome my first reading of her -- the dreadful Duplicate Keys -- and her idiotarian op-ed current affairs writing to have real respect for her as an artist. On a side note, "Moo" has to be one of the best comic novels I have ever read. "The Age of Grief" isn't quite up to that level of quality and imagination but it's a very accomplished and affecting novella. Go read it!
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on December 24, 2017
describe why I loved a book. But greedy Amazon requires more than just stars. Ok so then here:

These stories: genius-prose, love-shine, night-velvet. Five stars not nearly enough.
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on January 26, 2014
This is a strong collection. Of course, "The Age of Grief" itself should get the most attention because of its length and its beauty. I found it thrilling that Smiley could create such depth in such short form, but she did in that story and it made question the characters' motives and their decisions.
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on January 23, 2018
Beautiful read.
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on September 25, 2015
Some of the stories I just didn't get.
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on June 3, 2015
it's hard to decide what somebody else would like. I think the book was pretty good
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on September 26, 2015
she is a master and am going to read the whole series. still loved Greenlanders from years ago.
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on November 6, 2015
Have read this several times and see something new at each read...
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