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Walks With Men: Fiction Paperback – June 8, 2010

2.2 out of 5 stars 26 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Beattie (Follies) turns a clinical eye on young love in this moody period piece about Jane Jay Costner, who, just out of college in 1980, is given the opportunity to learn the ways of the world and of love from an older man. The affair is proposed as an intellectual experiment, and the reader cringes as young Jane becomes deeply involved with Neil, an older writer who is, predictably, married and no great catch besides. He offers a stream of pretentious aphorisms (When you travel to Europe, never wear a fragrance from the country you're in) that Jane initially admires but eventually distrusts. But even as her dislike for her lover grows, she becomes ever more entrenched. Beattie's talent as a prose stylist is evident: the sentences are gorgeous and there isn't a word out of place, but emotion is subdued to the point of aloofness, leaving the reader with little more than idle concern for Jane. Beattie effortlessly conjures 1980s New York, but the human terrain could be less muted. (June)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Bookmarks Magazine

A hybrid of the minimalist style she pioneered forty years ago and the more evocative stories she has produced more recently, Beattie's new novella drew mixed reviews. Detractors panned the detached, camera-like record of events, claiming that the lack of depth rendered her characters passive and prevented readers from empathizing with them. On the other hand, the Miami Herald praised Beattie for "kick[ing] away all the scaffolding of psychobabble and pathography and let[ting] the story tell itself." Admirers also praised her sharp sense of humor and "amazing gift for presenting a complete story in out-of-sequence fragments" (Miami Herald). Walks With Men, though flawed, will entice readers with its haunting tribute to the naivete of youth.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 112 pages
  • Publisher: Scribner; First Edition, Thus edition (June 8, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1439168695
  • ISBN-13: 978-1439168691
  • Product Dimensions: 4.8 x 0.4 x 7.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 2.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #676,101 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Fairbanks Reader - Bonnie Brody TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on July 6, 2010
Format: Paperback
I've read most of Beattie's books and have liked them very much; I've even loved some of them. Thus, I was shocked by the postured unreadability of her novella, Walks With Men: Fiction. At only 100 pages, I thought I'd fly through It. Instead, I felt like I was trying to work myself through quicksand.

The premise starts with a young woman of 22 years going out with a 44 year-old man. Besides his being twice her age, he is married, which she doesn't know. Their relationship is based on her letting him teach her how men think. "I explain anything you want to know about men, but nobody can know I'm the source of your information." The book goes downhill from there. The young woman breaks up with her organic farmer boyfriend to live with the older man. She and the older man end up getting married and develop a pre-nup that takes into account the possibility of his future philandering.

I don't know why Ann Beattie published this book. She has such talent and has written so many lovely works. I'd skip this one.
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I have been a fan of Anne Beattie's since she began publishing in the seventies, and yes, I am that old. I have all of her novels and short story collections, and have even had the pleasure of meeting her at a writer's workshop. I was so pleased to see a new Beattie novel out that I even ignored the recently published collection of her New York short stories; after all, I reasoned I probably had all these stories, but a new book! Well, the joke was on me----Walks With Men is not a novel, or even a novella. I paid ten dollars for a bad short story with a sexy cover, a story that reads almost like a parody of Ms. Beattie's stories. Possibly it's an old one that she took out of the trunk from her earliest days of writing, before she really honed her craft. The characterizations is ridiculous (a young woman who keeps telling us how beautiful and brilliant she is), and older man who seduces her, educates her and marries her, all in the most charmless, sexless manner imaginable and then leaves her. Some of this is partially autobiographical (Beattie did speak at her Ivy League college explaining how her whole education had been a waste of time, and she was going to live back in Vermont off the land (cue the joni mitchell songs).

In a masochistic moment I read it twice, and it was just as bad the second time, so I did what I have only done with one other book: I threw it in the trash. Fortunately, my nephew gave me the collected New Yorker stories which I have been reading with the greatest of pleasure, and getting the bad taste of WALKS WITH MEN out of my mouth or brain. Ms. Beattie---I implore you---don't EVER do this again. If you just need the money I will organize a walkathon or something---but with all the wonderful work behind you and, I believe, still to come, please do NOT foist trash like this again on your readers who love you.
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Format: Paperback
I almost didn't buy this since it got such bad reviews, but it kept appearing in my radar. I'm glad I finally read it because I enjoyed this look at flawed people in a flawed relationship. There is so much unrealistic commercial crap on the market it was a breath of fresh air to read something that was more like watching through the window of a NYC neighbor.
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Format: Paperback
I really hate giving books low star reviews, but sometimes it happens. Honestly, I have no idea what this novella is trying to accomplish. I feel that the writing is sloppy along with the characterization and plot structure. One moment we're in the 80's and in the next we're in the present time? I feel that the message of the story is completely lost. Some clever quotes and philosophical comments are peppered in throughout the pages. It still doesn't change my experience reading it.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
There is no more accomplished or capable writer in contemporary American letters, and this book does not disappoint.

An unflinching narrative of the razor-sharp line between self-awareness and self-delusion.

Women, men;
love, heart-break;
success, failure;
ambition, resignation;
friendship, betrayl;
intimacy, alienation;
the dark passage from youth to maturity (or a semblance thereof),
from innocence to experience.

Re-read William Blake. "Fearful symmetry" indeed.

As with so much of Beattie's work, it can't really be described or deconstructed. Experience it. You may well have lived it.

And yes, she continues to be "the voice of her generation."
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I started out hating the female protagonist, her Svengali lover, and their relationship. Then the relationship changed and grew deeper and I began to like them--or at least her.

It reads like an extended New Yorker piece of fiction (and it may well have been, but I've just forgotten). Like many novellas, it feels disjointed and incomplete, leaving you (allowing you?) to fill in the missing pieces.

The only walking with men that I noticed was near the end, when she visits her stepfather in the South and his cronies. Maybe she was metaphorically walking with the Svengali and hippie boyfriends, too?
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Format: Paperback
I picked this book up almost by accident. I was looking through the Paul Auster books at the store and WALKS WITH MEN happened to be faced out on the next shelf.
Something about it, don't remember what, caught my eye so I read the back and decided to buy it. I'd never read Ann Beattie before and had no preconceived notions of what it ought to be.

I enjoyed the book immensely. The minimalist style worked perfectly -maybe it helped that I was born & bred in New York City and know what a Chelsea brownstone looks like, know Gramercy Park & the other parts of the city her characters inhabit -because it allowed me to get past the trappings of scenery and focus on the characters. I'm glad Ann Beattie didn't spend lots of time developing every aspect of her characters. It forces the reader to just dive in and go with it, to take what she chooses to tell us about them for what it is and to form impressions of them based on what they do and say.
I couldn't disagree more with the other reviewers on this one.
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