- Paperback: 192 pages
- Publisher: Mariner Books; 1 edition (September 5, 2006)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0156030810
- ISBN-13: 978-0156030816
- Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.4 x 8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 22 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,149,254 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Third Class Superhero 1st Edition
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From Publishers Weekly
Issues of identity and insecurity simmer throughout Yu's debut collection, an imaginative excursion into the burrow Kafka built. In "My Last Days as Me," the unnamed star of the hit TV show Me and My Mother chafes at the recasting of his onscreen mother and eradicates the line between actor and character. The unnamed man in "Man of Quiet Desperation Goes on Short Vacation" evaluates his existential condition as frequently as a time-obsessed man checks his watch. And in the title story, "Moisture Man" strives to improve his position in the superhero hierarchy, which means constant self-appraisal and comparison to his more successful counterparts ("fireball shooters. A few are ice makers. Half a dozen telepath/empaths"). Yu flirts with formal experimentation—"Problems for Self-Study" unfolds as a complicated multiple choice test, for example—but tempers his fantastical constructions with level prose. (The first two paragraphs of "The Man Who Became Himself" are "He was turning into something unspeakable" and "At the office, people avoided the issue.") There is abundant humor, though, and Yu allows the reader to feel pathos without patronization; a neat trick, in a compulsively readable collection. (Sept.)
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"'Class Three Superhero' transcends what might have been a merely clever premise to speak to us about ambition, envy and the moral dilemmas that our own worst natures force on us. I admire it very much."--Jean Thompson, National Book Award Finalist
Top customer reviews
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The only issue is with the Kindle version. It is not formatted very well; paragraphing is a bit messed up, weird line breaks, and the Table of Contents is practically useless since it is not clickable, making it almost impossible to navigate and jump quickly to a certain story. Inexcusable for a ten dollar e-book. That's why I'm docking one star.
The only story I even remember is the Third Class Superhero.
But in his niche, he's a master. The stories are reflections on ambivalence, time, loss, just getting by. The fragmentary, solitary, claustrophobic self. Our inability to know each other or even ourselves. These are serious topics, as anyone who has spent much time living at the edge of these feelings knows. And while the tone of the stories is often light and amusing, they are, at core, deeply felt. These are stories with something to say.
And the form of his writing is a perfect match. Some are fragments, structurally disjoint, lists or instructions or stage directions. Often the subject is narrating and annotating and reflecting on his (almost always his) own interior monologue, replete with bullet points, capitalized phrases, paragraphs of a single short sentence, urgent banalities:
"It's never to soon to start thinking about the unthinkable," the Realtor says. He pulls out a comb and pulls it through his already-combed hair.
We don't need the Good Life. The Pretty Good Life would be just fine.
"Nice neighborhood," I try to convince my wife.
The combination of inventiveness, humor, and pathos is perfect. If this is your thing, don't miss this book.
The other ten stories are rather precise, almost cold exercises in the craft of short story writing. While some take on imaginative frameworks, such as "Problems for Self-Study", which unfurls as a quasi-math/logic test, or the series of rules in "Two-Player Infinitely Iterated Simultaneous Semi-Cooperative Game with Spite and Reputation", they don't deviate from the central theme of identity and the quest for a meaningful existence that runs throughout the stories. In one story a couple tries to derive meaning and identity via packaged consumer goods and services, in another a man's identity literally splits in two, in another, an actor becomes overly immersed in his role, and so forth. In many of the stories, the characters aren't even given names, just "man" or "woman" or "A" or "B"... Another running theme is the idea of connection (in the E.M. Forester sense), in that many of the characters want to connect with others (family, lovers, friends), but are unable to move themselves to action. Personally, these failed to strike any kind of chord, and the navel-gazing aspect grew somewhat repetitive. Still, fans of the short form should check this out, as Yu's approach is certainly different from most of what's out there.
Most recent customer reviews
I had big expectations for this book - and found the read better than imagined!Read more