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The Best of Animals

Average Rating 5
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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 5, 2002

    Laugh-out-loud funny stories

    I'm not some kind of idiot who sits alone in Starbucks laughing to himself over a book, or disturbing others in the library by chortling at my reading. But Lauren Grodstein's stories are laugh-out-loud funny. Their biting and often cynical wit proved irresistible - I couldn't keep from provoking a few sidelong glances over lattes and, later, bitter 'shush's from the studious denizens of the 24-hour reading room. The story 'Gazelles', a case in point, is told from the perspective of a girl alienated by the cruelty of her athletic, attractive and hopelessly shallow high school peers. Grodstein brilliantly captures her heroine's deliciously edgy humor, her only defense in a world where, as she puts it, she falls prey to her tormenters as easily as the animals of the story's title fall to the lions of a nature video. This witty style keeps the tales moving and fresh, but what makes them memorable is their ability to touch an emotional chord. 'How the Stars Live' slowly and convincingly reveals a deep seriousness beneath its witty surface as it explores the emotions of its male protagonist and eventually removes the cool, 'tough-girl' mask of the woman with whom he has made his emotional mess. 'Family Vacation', another story narrated by an adolescent too smart for her environment, probes the interrelations of a family whose tensions and traumas approach their breaking point when they are trapped on a monorail at Disney World. Grodstein's voice is as powerful as it is funny in this story that balances humor with a truly moving depiction of emotion. There is something to engage everyone in these ten stories, to move you as well as make you laugh out loud.

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