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Twilight of the Superheroes: Stories Hardcover – January 24, 2006

3.1 out of 5 stars 23 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Short-story master Eisenberg delivers, with signature intelligence and humor, six elegant, soulful new tales in her fifth book of stories. In a nuanced and compassionate family portrait, "Some Other, Better Otto," complex expressions of love and despair circle around a high-strung brother and his prodigiously talented, mentally ill sister. Several other stories also portray families pulling simultaneously apart while cleaving together, but each character and each motive is unique in Eisenberg's hands. The extraordinary, near–novella-length "Window" follows a young, naïve woman into a marginal, backwoods life with a secretive and dictatorial man who has business in arms dealing and a toddler son he's left in her care. The title piece is set in Manhattan around the events of 9/11 and focuses on the post-collegiate ennui of a group of 20-something friends facing an uncertain future. The author is at the top of her form delving into the varied but devastating truth that, even after an apocalypse, people still have to lie in the beds they've made, unable to sleep. A terrific addition to the oeuvre of one of America's finest and most deeply empathetic short story writers. (Feb.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Bookmarks Magazine

Critics call Deborah Eisenberg a master of the short story, and Twilight, her seventh collection, reaffirms that reputation. With insight and intelligence, Eisenberg delves deep inside the daily lives of "outsiders" wandering through life. All stories didn't touch all critics equally; some described the title story as one of the best pieces of fiction to capture the dislocation of 9/11, while others called it hackneyed. Other tales struck critics as either too political or unbelievable. Only "Some Other, Better Otto" met with universal acclaim. But in each story Eisenberg creates "stunning inner monologues" (Los Angeles Times) that reveal the disjunction between perception and reality—perhaps life's greatest truth.

Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux; 1st edition (January 24, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0374299412
  • ISBN-13: 978-0374299415
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.9 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,876,140 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Ms. Eisenberg has a wicked sense of literary creation. The colorful book jacket alone encompasses so many meanings and allusions. The battered Batman-like superhero watches over the mayhem of 9-11 and over the New York City loft where Ms. Eisenberg's characters of the titled story have gathered. The title itself invokes the opera of Richard Wagner, "The Twilight of the Gods." And the reader has not even reached the actual story itself.

The author is an acquired taste who makes the reader work at understanding the motives and actions of her flawed but all-too-human characters -- this is not beach reading. For those who enjoy the craft of her story-telling, the reader is referred to last year's "Collected Stories of Deborah Eisenberg" and to 1996's "The Stories (So Far) of Deborah Eisenberg" -- the latter is the reprinting together of her first two books of stories while the former is a 'best of" collection from all her published works.
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Format: Hardcover
With "Twighlight of the Superheroes," Deborah Eisenburg is throwing another log onto the early but incipient literary bonfire of "Post-9/11ism." Indeed, these stories are a testament to Post-9/11ism's leading attributes: expectation of imminent doom, the globe as a child that has lost its innocence, the theory that, contrary to the trend prevalent throughout most of history, the teenagers, 20- and 30-somethings of today will be the first generation to live less happily than their parents, as well as the feeling that our world, through its fast-paced ambition and utter forwardness, has made tragic mistakes for which our children and grandchildren will pay.

The title story, of course, says this the best. And as a 17-year-old who expects to reside one day in no place other than a city like New York, I finished it with tears in my eyes. Not because the story was dark, or polemic-sounding, which it was, but because, counter to those strides, there is empathy for the characters, and an underlying, godless faith that we as people will survive, continue to wake up in the morning and live the lives we make for ourselves. The world in which this story was written is not the world that existed ten years ago. This is a time of monumental change, and I welcome the recent movement of Post-9/11ism with open arms.
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Format: Hardcover
Ms. Eisenberg is one of the masters of the short story, winning award after award. Her stories have the tight composition characteristic of writing that has to tell a story in a few pages. The actions, the characters have to be distilled down to the essense of the story. In short stories you do not have the option of stringing out the character development over time, each word, each sentence has to ahve meaning.

Here are six of her latest stories. If you are a fan of hers, here is your next fix. If you are new, you are in for a special delight. Here are characters living out their lives as best they can. They are limited by their own abilities, their own beliefs, their families, and basically the beds that they have made for themselves.

Ms. Eisenberg is provessor of fictional writing at the University of Virginia.
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By Zolma on August 22, 2006
Format: Hardcover
The stories in this book are absolutely stunning. I want to know more about every single character. I care about them and hope that during my lifetime Ms. Eisernberg writes more stories with these characters. They are real, yet each one represents something. Amazing.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I really disliked this collection and view it as an example of what it wrong with American letters. There was nothing in here but shallow structures signifying how this author clearly values forms -- or sentences -- over storytelling. Moreover, there was smugness instead of something softer, like sentimentality, in many places.

Throughout the collection, there were hardly any characters that I cared about. Not only that, there were hardly any characters that I could even identify as anything other than sketches -- loose shapes on a page with names like Eli or Otto or Oliver. Yes, the names of these forms experienced things, or said things, but I could barely recall their statements from one page to the next. And, after a time, I didn't care to.

By the time the final pages for these stories came, I thought the author accomplished which she set out to do: demonstrate her cleverness to the New York Times Book Review and the committee for the National Book Award. What she failed to do is show a reader how one can live, or why they should, through her words.
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Format: Paperback
Deborah Eisenberg's stories are highly intelligent, witty, and complex--so complex they're like small novels.
They're actually about something, too. This collection is her apotheosis as an artist (thus far); and she has
just won a well-deserved MacArthur "Genius" grant!
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Format: Paperback
This is the first time I've tried reading Deborah Eisenberg and I'm simultaneously impressed by her non-linear narrative as much as bothered by it.

This narrative device of moving back and forth between the present and the past is most evident in the titular story about a bunch of young adults whose lives converge at a Manhattan loft. Their fortunes reflect the magnificent view of the vibrant city and also plunge as the twin towers collapse on 9/11.

In each of the six stories in this collection, an ambivalent main character is presented. We have the intense, loving brother in 'Some other, better Otto', the school-marmish Kate in the company of a suave, debonair foreign gentleman in suitably romantic settings of old churches and museums in 'Like it or not', the naive and ditzy Kristina who finds herself saddled with a mysterious free-spirited lover's young son in 'Window', and the wife/mother coping with geographical as well as emotional displacement in 'Flaw in the Design' who turns to adultery for solace.

Perhaps the appeal for some readers would be that none of these characters are perfect and therefore real. However, at times these characters grate on my nerves simply because they are so contrary. Otto, while coping with a schizophrenic sister whom he adores, seems unnecessarily hostile to his patient lover, William, and patronisingly scathing towards his other siblings and their families. While humorous and witty, these exchanges tend to be too smart-assed and show up qualities of the characters that fail to attract this reader.
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