Dream Date: Stories

Overview

Jean McGarry has been praised for her "deft, comic, and devastatingly precise portraits" ( New York Times Book Review) and as "a writer who honors the human condition" ( Baltimore Sun). In her new collection of stories, Dream Date, she focuses her skills as a "gifted observer" ( Publishers Weekly) on the delicate boundary that separates the real from the ethereal states we drift into and out of as we try to make sense of our relationships, romantic and otherwise, with the other sex. Funny and haunting in equal ...

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Overview

Jean McGarry has been praised for her "deft, comic, and devastatingly precise portraits" ( New York Times Book Review) and as "a writer who honors the human condition" ( Baltimore Sun). In her new collection of stories, Dream Date, she focuses her skills as a "gifted observer" ( Publishers Weekly) on the delicate boundary that separates the real from the ethereal states we drift into and out of as we try to make sense of our relationships, romantic and otherwise, with the other sex. Funny and haunting in equal measure—and suffused with a hint of the surreal—McGarry's stories explore the confusions, contradictions, and calamities of the modern relationship: in "Paris," a woman tracks down her wayward husband in the City of Lights and ends up having a meeting of minds with his mistress that gives great satisfaction to both women; in "Moon, June," a woman stalks the wardrobe of a wealthy socialite in a consignment shop, opening up a world of polymorphous delight and fashion envy; and in "The Secret of His Sleep," a man wakes up after forty years to a reality that is at once strangely familiar and completely unexpected. In these wry fictions, real-world problems often have solutions fashioned with the stunning clarity and logic of a dream.

Johns Hopkins University Press

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Editorial Reviews

World and I - Linda Simon

Readers looking for warmth and tenderness had best look elsewhere; the pleasures of these fictions come from McGarry's wit and intelligence as she casts a cold, subversive eye on her characters' dreams and on their, and our, realities.

The Gazette - Gwen Glazer

'Dream Date,' Jean McGarry's sixth book, contains stories that demand adjectives: delicate, complex, rich, surprising, artful, intellectual, frightening, surreal, powerful.

Providence Journal
McGarry continues to explore the voids between men and women, and between the life of the imagination and the compromises of daily life...McGarry draws on regional detail, literary history, and the pleasures and disappointments of the intellectual life as she examines existential angst with frank wit and solipsistic wisdom. In Dream Date, she plays with His and Hers points of view within realistic narratives or dreamlike fantasy... At her best, McGarry illuminates our quirky, flawed selves and neighbors, and makes us nod even as we sigh.

— Beth Taylor

Booklist

The reader is catapulted into intensely woven dramas, tightly constructed riffs on the state of affairs 'twixt man and woman. Five are His; eight are Hers; all are captivating glimpses into that awkward and often uncharted territory between the sexes, in which we hoard private moments for ourselves, yet, which if displayed in public, others interpret, searching for hidden clues to help them decipher the relationship... Each story instantly attracts with a seductive energy and authenticity, then just as quickly, McGarry will segue into a subtle sea change, altering mood and tension to lend a dreamlike quality to each tale, throwing the reader slightly off balance yet begging for more.

World and I
Readers looking for warmth and tenderness had best look elsewhere; the pleasures of these fictions come from McGarry's wit and intelligence as she casts a cold, subversive eye on her characters' dreams and on their, and our, realities.

— Linda Simon

The Gazette
'Dream Date,' Jean McGarry's sixth book, contains stories that demand adjectives: delicate, complex, rich, surprising, artful, intellectual, frightening, surreal, powerful.

— Gwen Glazer

Providence Journal - Beth Taylor

McGarry continues to explore the voids between men and women, and between the life of the imagination and the compromises of daily life...McGarry draws on regional detail, literary history, and the pleasures and disappointments of the intellectual life as she examines existential angst with frank wit and solipsistic wisdom. In Dream Date, she plays with His and Hers points of view within realistic narratives or dreamlike fantasy... At her best, McGarry illuminates our quirky, flawed selves and neighbors, and makes us nod even as we sigh.

Grace Paley
I have always loved Jean McGarry's novels for their acuteness and generosity–and unusual combination. And I've been waiting impatiently for new work and here it is; surprising in its riskiness,humor, and smart as ever.
Alice McDermott
At the conclusion of each of Jean McGarry's marvelous stories,the reader is faced with a delightful dilemma: to go back to the beginning and read it again,or to begin the next. The precision and complexity of each tale invite rereading. But each story's inventiveness,its droll wisdom,makes us look forward to discovering just what Ms. McGarry will come up with next.
Max Apple
Jean McGarry's stories are stylistic riffs,surprising in every sentence — and those sentences,lively and comic,go deep. She's a real virtuoso.
Publishers Weekly
Dream Date, Jean McGarry's sixth collection of stories, lays bare the insecurities, infidelities and inadequacies of its upper-middle-class characters. Men take the lead in the first section and women dominate the second, though McGarry is too sophisticated for a mere "he said/she said" dialectic. An arrogant classics scholar's dinner with his superiors and wife (on whom he's cheating) ends disastrously in "Among the Philistines," while an arts administrator's affair with a violinist is derailed when she learns she has cancer in "Body and Soul." Although the tone of these mini-dramas is often rather arch, with characters uttering lines like "The props of marriage are many, Arthur," they are insightful and meticulously crafted.
Kirkus Reviews
After a second novel (Gallagher's Travels, 1997), McGarry returns to her strength, the short story, with a knockout fourth collection of wonderfully honed, superbly quirky tales exploring the modern-day crises of relationship-weary men and women. McGarry is equally comfortable in the voices of men and women, and it's hard to find a weak link among these 13 stories, subdivided into two sections entitled "His" and "Hers." The first, "Among the Philistines," delineates the staccato movements of an arrogant, on-the-rise Latin scholar whose field trip to New York City-involving a quick bedding of his mistress, a sudden appearance by his handsomely pedigreed wife, and an explosive dinner among the tenured academic Olympiads-turns tragically hubristic. The following tale, "The Thin Man," begins with the startling sentence "In one year I lost a hundred pounds" and recounts the strange, unsettling birthday of pampered, privileged 41-year-old Charles Francis LaSalle and the mysterious attraction he holds over "wounded creatures." The longest in this section, "The Secret of His Sleep," is also the story in which McGarry indulges her impish perverseness. A regular guy, George McCoy, living in a place called Plainfield, "wakes up" from a 40-year-sleep and must reacquaint himself with his listless wife, young genius son, and the consequences of a heretofore-blank existence. When she's at her strongest, McGarry 's prose is fresh, her plots unpredictable, and her dialogue shimmeringly wry-as in the pointed exchange between George and his dead father in an empty afternoon bar; at her weakest, she is oblique and abruptly elliptical, as at moments in the final piece, "The Last Time," involving GertrudeStein, Alice Toklas, and an unnamed live-in at their rue de Fleurus apartment. Many of the stories here appeared in small literary or academic publications. They deserve wider circulation. Reading McGarry's stories (Home at Last, 1994, etc.) is to be surprised and delighted.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780801869372
  • Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press
  • Publication date: 4/28/2002
  • Series: Johns Hopkins: Poetry and Fiction
  • Pages: 248
  • Sales rank: 1,433,228
  • Product dimensions: 5.00 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 0.72 (d)

Meet the Author

Jean McGarry teaches in The Writing Seminars, Johns Hopkins University. Dream Date is her sixth book of fiction, following Gallagher's Travels, Home at Last, The Courage of Girls, The Very Rich Hours, and Airs of Providence.

Johns Hopkins University Press

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Table of Contents

Contents:



HIS



Among the Philistines

The Thin Man

Landing

The Secret of His Sleep



HERS



Body and Soul

The Maestro

Moon, June

Better Than Real

Partly Him

Lavare

Paris

The Last Time



Acknowledgments

Johns Hopkins University Press

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