Do Not Deny Me: Stories

Do Not Deny Me: Stories

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by Jean Thompson
     
 

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When Jean Thompson—“America’s Alice Munro” (Kirkus Reviews, starred review)—is telling stories, “You cannot put the book down” (The Seattle Times), and her superlative new collection, Do Not Deny Me, is one to be savored, word by word.

• Award-winning storyteller gaining popularity: Jean Thompson’s short

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Overview

When Jean Thompson—“America’s Alice Munro” (Kirkus Reviews, starred review)—is telling stories, “You cannot put the book down” (The Seattle Times), and her superlative new collection, Do Not Deny Me, is one to be savored, word by word.

• Award-winning storyteller gaining popularity: Jean Thompson’s short fiction has been honored by the National endowment for the Arts and the Guggenheim Foundation; Who Do You Love: Stories was a National Book Award finalist for fiction and was promoted by David Sedaris during his own lecture tour; and Throw Like a Girl: Stories was a New York Times Notable Book and a San Francisco Chronicle Best Book of the Year. The collection is also in its sixth printing, as Thompson’s longstanding critical acclaim crosses over into a popular following. Do Not Deny Me is perfectly positioned to gain an even wider audience.

• Do Not Deny Me: Here is a title that demands—and commands—attention in and of itself. Yet Thompson’s latest collection is no literary dare, delivering as it does twelve dazzling new stories that together offer, with wit, humor, and razor-sharp perception, a fictional primer on how Americans live day to day. In Thompson’s writing, The New York Times Book Review has noted, “some of the biggest satisfactions happen line by line, thanks to Thompson’s effortless ability to tip her prose into the universal.” Thompson succeeds as “one of our most astute diagnosticians of contemporary experience” (The Boston Globe).

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Thompson...delivers a deeply affecting collection that elevates the quotidian to the sublime....explore[s] a bewildering array of experience...Thompson immerses readers in details and emotions so consuming and convincing that the inane vagaries of modern life can take on near mythic importance. This collection shows the confidence and power of a writer in her prime." — Publishers Weekly, Starred Review

"[Thompson's] particular grace...may be that her language and approach at first seem so straightforward that it's only partway through reading a story that, like one of her characters, we experience the surprise of a new world unfolding from the ordinary....twilit, elegiac...downright funny, too...Reviewing such a remarkable writer, one's own words can seem too ordinary, but Thompson's talent is such that it can overcome even those limitations." — Booklist, Starred Review

"I don't deny it. I didn't know Jean Thompson's short fiction until I began reading this new volume of a dozen stories — and didn't stop. Move over, Alice Munro, this gifted writer now sits in my mind near the throne of the short-story queens and kings of old. She is a master of dialogue, character, pacing and plot, and — anyone who loves the form will have to cheer about this...Thompson employs spare, plain language, whose rhythms she assembles appropriately for various occasions." — Alan Cheuse, Chicago Tribune

"[In] Jean Thompson's immensely satisfying new collection...emotional movement is small but powerful....The prose brims with unforced insight." — Richard Rayner, Los Angeles Times

"[Thompson's] latest collection, Do Not Deny Me, is compelling, funny, thought-provoking.... Thompson is an astute observer of the pitfalls of contemporary life, how it isolates and challenges, how it brings out one's worst and best. Her clear-eyed, thought-provoking stories highlight rare, precious moments of grace even as she wisely notes the human tendency toward selfishness, pettiness and general bad behavior." — Connie Ogle, The Miami Herald

"Thompson...takes us to a disturbing place in this darkly beautiful collection of short stories...Enthusiastically recommended." — Library Journal

"The experiences of ordinary people...are precisely depicted in this fifth collection from the increasingly accomplished Thompson...who wields illuminating quotidian details and stunningly apt clichés with lethal skill, demonstrates how closely their desires and disappointments parallel and echo our own....Wonderful work from a contemporary master of scrupulous observation, plain statement and unvarnished common sense." — Kirkus

"[Thompson's] at home anywhere and everywhere. She's at home in the skins of women and men, young and old, losers and winners, tyrants and victims, flakes and dupes and dopes and geniuses and soldiers and bikers and moms. Her characters hail from small towns and big cities. In her sparkling and sometimes heartbreaking short stories...Thompson channels all kinds of personalities, but she does it so artfully, with such supple, unaffected grace." — Julia Keller, Chicago Tribune

"Thompson takes tragic, ordinary figures and lifts them to the sublime in prose that's often as funny as it is sad." — Jeanne Kolker, Wisconsin State Journal

Publishers Weekly

National Book Award-finalist Thompson (for Who Do You Love) delivers a deeply affecting collection that elevates the quotidian to the sublime. In the title story, Julia, a young woman "embarrassed" for "people [who] talked about guardian angels or spirit guides," visits a psychic after her boyfriend dies. Faced with the ability to access the world beyond, she recoils sharply. The collection goes on to explore a bewildering array of experience, from a young wife denying her husband's white-collar crimes in "Liberty Tax" to the concerned neighbor of "Little Brown Bird" who is powerless to help a little girl being molested by her father. In "Escape," a man who has suffered a stroke finds himself at the mercy of his increasingly abusive wife. Determined to get away from her, he's pleasantly shocked when she solves his problem in a way he never counted on. Thompson immerses readers in details and emotions so consuming and convincing that the inane vagaries of modern life can take on near mythic importance. This collection shows the confidence and power of a writer in her prime. (June)

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Library Journal

Thompson (Who Do You Love) takes us to a disturbing place in this darkly beautiful collection of short stories-her fifth. We see lives falling apart, relationships soured and occasionally violent, and hope distant and elusive. The characters, youngish suburbanites who are all well depicted, are often drawn to each other by a terrible loneliness, but even their most basic attempts at human connection usually fail. Some fail for predictable reasons (pettiness, jealousy, meanness), others for reasons that are more complex and perhaps ultimately unexplainable.
—Patrick Sullivan

Kirkus Reviews
The experiences of ordinary people making their claims to be understood and respected are precisely depicted in this fifth collection from the increasingly accomplished Thompson (Throw Like a Girl, 2007, etc.). The characters in these dozen stories are people we all know, or can easily imagine. When a lonely woman accepts a married friend's Thanksgiving invitation, she becomes enmeshed in a domestic hornet's nest ("Wilderness"). An office worker ("Mr. Rat"), who thinks he's God's gift to the female colleague with a crush on him, first sees himself as a newly compassionate and sensitive person, then realizes with both chagrin and relief that he is "a genius at self-preservation." Wives betrayed by dishonest or indifferent spouses, husbands and fathers smothered by family responsibilities, an accident victim who learns he isn't the center of the universe, a bereaved young woman initially comforted and eventually terrorized by her new psychic "friend" (in the eerie title story)-all first swim into our ken as odd, unlikely specimens, but then Thompson, who wields illuminating quotidian details and stunningly apt cliches with lethal skill, demonstrates how closely their desires and disappointments parallel and echo our own. Three stories are especially impressive. A man enfeebled and speechless following a stroke yearns for a means of "Escape" from his embittered, condescending wife, who unintentionally (and ironically) provides it. In "Her Untold Story," a continuation of "Wilderness," a divorced suburban mom seeks a new life, taking up jogging, then risking a blind date and meeting a "stranger" who's as much a part of her rejected past as her infuriating ex. In the lovely "Treehouse," adisillusioned dad finds in the title project a refuge from a world "grown too large . . . too cluttered with bewilderment and pain. Now he had made it small enough to fit inside himself."Wonderful work from a contemporary master of scrupulous observation, plain statement and unvarnished common sense. Agent: Henry Dunow/Dunow, Carlson & Lerner

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781416595632
Publisher:
Simon & Schuster
Publication date:
06/09/2009
Edition description:
Original
Pages:
304
Product dimensions:
5.56(w) x 8.52(h) x 0.75(d)

Meet the Author

Jean Thompson is the author of two acclaimed collections, Throw Like a Girl and Who Do You Love, a 1999 National Book Award finalist for fiction, and the novels City Boy and Wide Blue Yonder. She lives in Urbana, Illinois.

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Do Not Deny Me 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 7 reviews.
MJinPA More than 1 year ago
This is the first I've read of Jean Thompson, and I think I'm in love. What a perfect title: I felt sated at the end of each story and yet couldn't put down the book. It didn't hurt that the first story, "Soldiers of Spiritos", struck a deep chord. (If sitting down with a good book is one of your greatest pleasures - a far greater pleasure than later deconstructing that book - I think you will love it, too.) "Escape" is a killer of a short story: perfect characters, perfect pacing, perfect climax, perfect ending. If I were to write one short story, I'd love it to be "Her Untold Story". I read the climax with delighted horror. And the title track is pitch perfect, exquisitely stirring up feelings of loss and longing. If you love short stories and think you'd like some kind of an honesty hybrid between Elizabeth Berg, Alice Munro, Mary Karr, and Jeannette Walls, you will certainly enjoy this collection. I highly recommend it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
"Sweet! My first time driving."
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
LPieroni More than 1 year ago
Miss "Soldiers of Spiritos" is a unimaginative portrait of two lonely people-an aging professor and mediocre student, both filled with self-loathing. The characters interact but have no affect on each other, causing the story to be dry, mopey, and generally dull. Thompson does a good job of separating the voices of student and teacher, giving them very distinct tone and vernacular, but goes too far into the ditzy with the student, giving her far too many "like"s between every other word.It's obvious Thompson is attempting to capture the tone of actual college-aged students, but in print it comes out making not only her characters sound stupid, but she as well. Hit In Little Brown Bird Thompson redeems herself somewhat. It is a touching story about an older woman with an empty nest who spends all of her free time avoiding her husband and sewing. She meets a young girl that lives nearby and befriends her, teaching her how to sew and having conversations. The girl, however, comes from a broken home visibly impovershed. The girl even alludes that her father is molesting her stepsister. At the end the father moves away with the girl, and the woman is left feeling alone and guilty, because she didn't do anything to stop him. The story touches on a range of emotions in the older woman: boredom, guilt, hope, fear. The relationship developed between the woman and girl is realistic, not pushed and not over the top. It's slow, simple, gentle, and heartbreaking when it ends. The reader feels powerless along with the woman as the possibly child molesting father takes the girl away. For more of this review, and other reviews, go to: laurareviewsbooks.blogspot.com
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a beautifully written book of short stories. The characters are memorable and the stories stay with you. This would be a good book for book club discussions. Her style is original and imaginative.
Lynie More than 1 year ago
Jean Thompson's stories are wonderful! Especially loved ESCAPE. Only bad thing is that I now have to go buy all of her other books.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
http://tinyurl.com/myca6y "Ms Thompson has been called America's Alice Munro and in this collection of delicate tales of modern life she earns the comparison. . . Ms Thompson's puckish spirit comes through in every story, but each one is completely original."