Fear of Blue Skies

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Fear of Blue Skies, Richard Burgin's third collection of stories, explores the mysteries of love and memory, sex, revenge and redemption, family abuse and forgiveness, through an extraor-dinarily variegated cast of characters. In these pages one finds vivid renderings of prostitutes, artists, and businessmen, the famous and wealthy and the homeless and tormented, as well as those who seek and find enlightenment.

Fear of Blue Skies is Richard Burgin's most ambitious story ...

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Overview

Fear of Blue Skies, Richard Burgin's third collection of stories, explores the mysteries of love and memory, sex, revenge and redemption, family abuse and forgiveness, through an extraor-dinarily variegated cast of characters. In these pages one finds vivid renderings of prostitutes, artists, and businessmen, the famous and wealthy and the homeless and tormented, as well as those who seek and find enlightenment.

Fear of Blue Skies is Richard Burgin's most ambitious story collection to date, exploring the form and narrative structure of the story as well as the psyches of his protagonists and their sometimes searing, sometimes comic visions of the world. It confirms what Robert Taylor of the Boston Globe said of Private Fame: "Richard Burgin's tales capture the strangeness of a world that is simultaneously frightening and reassuring, and in the contemporary American short story nothing quite resembles his singular voice."

Praise for Richard Burgin and his work:

"Finely balanced fictions... Masterly... Private Fame offers a thrill ride for anyone willing to explore the dark alleyways of the modern American psyche." -- Philip Herter, Philadelphia Inquirer

"Richard Burgin, who edits the estimable quarterly Boulevard, is emerging as one of our most original story-writers." -- Robert Phillips, Southern Review

"The motley psyches in Mr. Burgin's gallery expose themselves in eerily funny monologues... But it is not their strangeness alone that fascinates, for strangeness generally fascinates only temporarily. Rather, it is the way they twist messages from a saner world to fit their peculiar neuroses. And this is why Mr. Burgin's stories are sodexterous. In them, he has paused near a border, shifting his weight nervously, sizing up the wild, surrealistic landscape that lies just a few paces ahead." -- Susan Spano Wells, New York Times Book Review

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Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
A third collection from Burgin (Private Fame, 1989; Man Without Memory, 1991), who teaches at St. Louis University and also edits the quarterly Boulevard.

The protagonists of these 11 stories are lonely people who've been hurt by their pasts, and become hesitant to test the dangerous waters of new circumstances or relationships. They aren't safely anchored to the real world, or even to their own inner selves, and many are still bound, well into middle age, to elderly or deceased parents or to spouses or lovers long since gone. Burgin's prose is dreamy and meditative, and the flat rhetoric that dominates his stories often has the surely unintended effect of making his characters' idiosyncracies seem hopelessly remote from us. For example, the narrator of "The Park," finding solace neither with the woman he covets nor in the fabricated beauty of the public park he compulsively visits, achieves an unspecified (and unconvincing) gratification when he meets an elderly woman and carries her groceries home for her. But what literally happens in the piece simply isn't enough to allow us entry into the character's mind and heart. A few other tales feel similarly thin, but there are several impressive successes. The fine title story shows how a withdrawn young man, afflicted by a recurring dream of floating heavenward and simply disappearing, resolves this trauma by manufacturing a "durable memory." And in the haunting "My Sister's House," a "gypsy scholar," who has never put down roots or settled into a relationship, assesses what differing effects his parents' "house full of secrets" has had—on his own stunted development, as well as on his sister's contented lesbian marriage.

These odd, quirky glimpses of lives lived beneath the surface or on the fringe of "normal" behavior only intermittently strike sparks of recognition in us. But the best of them are all too familiar and won't be easily forgotten.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780801857454
  • Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press
  • Publication date: 11/18/1997
  • Series: John Hopkins: Poetry and Fiction Series
  • Pages: 200
  • Product dimensions: 5.79 (w) x 8.79 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Richard Burgin is the author of five other books, including the story collections Private Fame and Man Without Memory, each of which was listed as one of the Notable Books of the Year by The Philadelphia Inquirer. He has won four Pushcart Prizes for his stories, and ten others have been listed by the Pushcart Prize anthology as being among the year's best stories. His interview books, Conversations with Isaac Bashevis Singer and Conversations with Jorge Luis Borges were both widely praised and translated into numerous foreign languages. He is founder and editor of the internationally distributed and award-winning literary journal Boulevard and is professor of English at St. Louis University.

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