A Day, A Night, Another Day, Summer

Overview


The title of Christine Schutt's second collection strikes the theme of swiftly passing time that runs through each of the stories. In "The Life of the Palm and the Breast" a woman watches her half-grown children running through the house and wonders: Whose boys are these? Whose life is this? The title story tells of a grandfather who has lived long enough to see his daughter's struggles echoed in his granddaughter and how her unhappiness leads him to unexpectedly feel the weight of his years. In "Darkest of All"...
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A Day, a Night, Another Day, Summer: Stories

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Overview


The title of Christine Schutt's second collection strikes the theme of swiftly passing time that runs through each of the stories. In "The Life of the Palm and the Breast" a woman watches her half-grown children running through the house and wonders: Whose boys are these? Whose life is this? The title story tells of a grandfather who has lived long enough to see his daughter's struggles echoed in his granddaughter and how her unhappiness leads him to unexpectedly feel the weight of his years. In "Darkest of All" a mother's relationship with her sons is wreaked by a repeated cycle of drugs and abusive relationships, the years pass and the pain-and its chosen remedy-remains the same. The narrator in "Winterreise" evokes Thoreau and strives to be heroic in the face of her longtime friend's imminent death, a harsh reminder of the time that is allotted to each of us.

Schutt's indomitable, original talent is once again on full display in each of these deeply informed, intensely realized stories. Many of the narratives take place in a space as small as a house, where the doors are many and what is hidden behind these thin domestic barriers tends towards violence, abusive sex, and mental anguish. Schutt opens these doors in sudden, bold moments that also reveal how the characters are often hopeful, even optimistic. With a style that is at once sensual and spare, dreamlike and deliberate, she exposes the terrible intimacy of the rooms and corridors of our innermost lives.

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Editorial Reviews

David Kirby
If you're going to have one character complain to another that Virginia Woolf's novels are ''all chorus and no plot,'' you'd better supply lots of plot yourself, and Schutt does. But most of the action takes place between her characters' ears -- or at least between the ears of those old enough to have some kind of inner reality. Mentally and physically, Schutt's young people lead humdrum existences, but if her slightly older characters don't have much going on in the real world, at least their thoughts sizzle and pop.
— The New York Times
Publishers Weekly
National Book Award nominee Schutt (Florida; Nightwork) writes with startling beauty and frustrating restraint in 11 searing stories that reveal less than they artfully decline to reveal. A young American couple living in England find themselves pulled apart by desire for others (she for an unnamed "girl"; he for no one identified) in "Young"; in "Weather Is Here, Wish You Were Beautiful," four college students experiment with drugs and grapple with messy relationships ("[I]n this way it started. She and George. Alice and George. She and Alice and George. She and Alice and George and Sam"). In "Darkest of All," a mother with a carefully maintained over-the-counter drug habit visits her troubled son in rehab; later, getting her back rubbed by her younger, less screwed-up son, she longs for the idyllic days of their youth: "Jean had lifted the wisps of hair from off their baby scalps, marked as the moon, with their stitched plates of bone yet visible, the boys; how often she had thought to break them." In "They Turn Their Bodies Into Spears," a rich octogenarian welcomes his anorexic granddaughter to his island home, witnessing in her the same sadness he saw in her absent mother. Schutt's plots can be thin, but her prose is extraordinary. (June) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Schutt, a 2004 National Book Award finalist for the novel Florida, has put together a remarkable collection. While "Young" remembers the breakup of a first marriage, "Darkest of All" explores a mother's relationship with her sons and the substance abuse that has been transmitted through generations. As she ages ungracefully, the senile protagonist of "See Amid the Winter's Snow" remembers her stepmother and her childhood. "Undiscovered, Unrenameable" is a brief impression of the death of the father of a family living on an island, while "Winterreise" uses Thoreau's philosophy to highlight the changes in a friendship where one of the friends is dying of cancer. All 11 stories are impressionistic, somewhat blurry, and nonlinear. The plot in these intense stories is secondary to the teasing elements of character revealed in the space of just a few pages. Schutt's distinctive style pulls the very different stories into a cohesive group. Definitely recommended for academic libraries and for medium to large public libraries, especially where there is an interest in literary fiction or award winners.-Amy Ford, St. Mary's Cty. Lib., Lexington Park, MD Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Eleven new stories from stylist Schutt attain a haunting beauty in elegiac moments. Schutt's prose is nearly tactile, and so lyrically concise that it's maddening to read for long periods. Grasping the spare language requires attention to what is understated and implied, such as the true relationships among many of the characters. The first story, "Darkest of All," follows a mother, Jean, on visits to the drug-rehabilitation facility where her young son, Jack, a "felonious boy," is incarcerated. The story hints at the curious closeness among the fatherless family: Jean, hardly ever sober herself but "prudent in her daily use of substances," Ned, her other serious son who scratches her back, literally and figuratively, and Jack, who carves his name all over the facility with a fork-to get back at his mother? Similarly, in "Do You Think I Am Who I Will Be?" the aging teacher narrator returns to his city apartment after an absence, wearing "party clothes," all the while obsessing about a much younger student lover named Madeline, whom he also knew as a girl. Madeline "has an orphan appeal, and her famished prettiness gives off heat"; the narrator tries to write to her in his stifling apartment that smells like dog but can only come up with the word fouled. "They Turn Their Bodies into Spears" recounts a surprise visit by 20-year-old granddaughter Charlotte to her elderly grandparents' island. The 80-year-old grandfather simply marvels at this darling girl, remembering achingly his own daughter, the girl's mother, before she became an angry brooder and fell in some fashion-put away in a home? "See Amid the Winter's Snow" revisits some of the territory of the imperious mother in the nursinghome delineated in Schutt's NBA-nominated novel Florida (2003), while "Winterreise" is a gorgeously mournful Thoreauvian tale set in New York City about a woman's reluctant witnessing to her lifelong friend's demise by cancer. Unparalleled etchings of loss and foreboding.
From the Publisher

"Unparalleled etchings of loss and foreboding." --Kirkus Reviews

"No one has been writing more sublimely about heartwreck than Christine
Schutt. Her new collection is terrifyingly precise, profound, and perfect."
-Gary Lutz, author of Stories in the Worst Way and I Looked Alive

"This new book of stories confirms Christine Schutt's brilliant reputation as an important American writer. Like Emily Dickinson, and with the same secretive precision, Schutt unfolds a deeply intimate vision, revealing to us, as only short stories can, bare-boned glimpses into the most private of realms. Each story cuts sharply into an existence, holds it before us, and then departs. We are left with a sense of having witnessed something deeply private and exact--the truth of family, of the tormented anguish of familial love. These are daring, radical stories. Together they form a quietly radical document, as sharp, stunning and tragic as anything I've read in years." --David Means, author of The Secret Goldfish

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780156030663
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Publication date: 6/5/2006
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 172
  • Sales rank: 1,381,347
  • Product dimensions: 5.10 (w) x 7.90 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Christine Schutt

Christine Schutt is the author of the novel Florida (Northwestern, 2004), a finalist for the 2004 National Book Award for Fiction, and Nightwork (Dalkey Archive, 2000), a collection of short stories, poet John Ashbery's selection for the best book of 1996 for the Times Literary Supplement. She lives and teaches in New York City.

Biography

Christine Schutt is the author of a short-story collection, Nightwork, chosen by poet John Ashbery as the best book of 1996 for the Times Literary Supplement. Florida, her first novel, was a finalist for the 2004 National Book Award for Fiction. She earned an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Columbia University and studied at Barnard with novelist and critic Elizabeth Hardwick. She lives in New York City.

Author biography courtesy of TriQuarterly Books/Northwestern University Press.

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Table of Contents

Darkest of all 3
Young 25
Do you think I am who I will be? 39
Weather is here, wish you were beautiful 49
The human season 59
The life of the palm and the breast 69
They turn their bodies into spears 79
See amid the winter's snow 91
Unrediscovered, unrenameable 125
Winterreise 133
The blood jet 145
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