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A Stranger in This World: Stories

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Overview

A Stranger in This World marks the debut of a powerful new talent. With a voice akin to those of Denis Johnson and Richard Ford, westerner Kevin Canty is a versatile and intelligent writer whose stories both shock and transfix. In this extraordinary collection, he portrays - with frightening calm - the unpredictable darkness of everyday life. Canty describes territory we all know well, but with a twist; his characters live on the verge of the unthinkable. Each voice rings unforgettably true: in "Pretty Judy," a ...
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A Stranger in This World: Stories

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Overview

A Stranger in This World marks the debut of a powerful new talent. With a voice akin to those of Denis Johnson and Richard Ford, westerner Kevin Canty is a versatile and intelligent writer whose stories both shock and transfix. In this extraordinary collection, he portrays - with frightening calm - the unpredictable darkness of everyday life. Canty describes territory we all know well, but with a twist; his characters live on the verge of the unthinkable. Each voice rings unforgettably true: in "Pretty Judy," a young boy is caught in an obsessive sexual relationship with a mentally retarded neighbor; in "The Victim," a telephone sales operator's chance encounter with a deranged drunken driver leads her and her boyfriend to unimaginable actions. From the misadventures of an alcoholic plant worker trying to go straight ("Junk") to a stoned suburban lifeguard whose fantasies about a Mrs. Robinson-like older woman almost result in tragedy ("Blue Boy"), in this gripping and original collection Canty invites the reader into an uncharted world of risk-taking and danger. Disturbing yet compellingly readable, these stories explore the gap between disappointment and hope, between life as it could be and life as it is, between - as the narrator of "The King of the Elephants" sees it - a horizon "full of Western stars, cold and distinct," and "this mottled, milky Southern sky."

The debut of an extraordinarily powerful voice in fiction, a versatile and intelligent writer whose stories will shock and transfix, these brilliant tales describe territory everyone knows well—but with a twist—exploring the gap between disappointment and hope, between life as it could be and life as it is.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Kenny Kolodny's first love at 17 makes for a haunting bildungsroman. (Oct.)
Library Journal
In his first collection of stories, Canty depicts nightmarish events and situations encroaching on ordinary lives. His restrained tone underscores the sense of horrible inevitability; the reader cringes but cannot look away. The characters are indeed "strangers"; people at peculiar turning points in their lives, they're lost on what feels like familiar ground. Temporarily impaired by alcohol or sadness, they don't read situations well and make the wrong choices. In "Pretty Judy," a bright, lonely teenager deceives himself as he enters into a desperate and doomed sexual relationship with a mentally retarded young woman. In "Blue Boy," a teenage lifeguard, daydreaming about an older woman, acts on those fantasies with painful consequences. After Tina and boyfriend Bobby have murdered their abductor in "The Victim," she concludes that "events have their own current." There direction-like that of Canty's characters-cannot be altered. These very strong stories are highly recommended.-Eleanor Mitchell, Arizona State Univ. West, Phoenix
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780679763949
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 8/28/1995
  • Series: Vintage Contemporaries Series
  • Edition description: 1st edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 192
  • Product dimensions: 5.56 (w) x 8.56 (h) x 0.44 (d)

Table of Contents

king of the elephants 1
dogs 13
pretty judy 19
the victim 41
junk 67
moonbeams and aspirin 95
safety 103
great falls, 1966 117
blue boy 127
a stranger in this world 151
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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 15, 2003

    Nothing less than extraordinary

    I've never been a fan of short stories for the sole reason that many authors tend to leave the reader frustratedly hanging in the wind at the close of a story. Kevin Canty's near lyrical prose draws you in and evokes raw emotion from his carefully constructed characters. The pages practically turn themselves, there's no disputing his talent. Add this to your list of must reads, you won't be sorry.

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