Greetings from Earth

Overview

In these provocative, inventive fictions, we encounter a man who dreams of himself as an Arctic wolf, a creature that slowly makes its way into the waking world; a hostile housewife who cultivates out-of-body experiences and imagines how her existence might serve as the basis for a movie starring Jessica Lange; and an autistic child for whom the world and words are the same thing, equally solid and equally malleable. Bradfield's stories are psychologically compelling and hilarious, particularly when he mixes the ...
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Overview

In these provocative, inventive fictions, we encounter a man who dreams of himself as an Arctic wolf, a creature that slowly makes its way into the waking world; a hostile housewife who cultivates out-of-body experiences and imagines how her existence might serve as the basis for a movie starring Jessica Lange; and an autistic child for whom the world and words are the same thing, equally solid and equally malleable. Bradfield's stories are psychologically compelling and hilarious, particularly when he mixes the supernatural with the mundane. Each one of these twenty-one stories demonstrates his singularly rich language and imagination.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Bradfield (What's Wrong With America) is an acutely-sometimes painfully-unsentimental chronicler of our times in these inventive short stories. Only eight of these stories are new to publication, but all are startling and effective. Bradfield often uses animals in his fiction, sometimes as recurring metaphors, and sometimes as characters. For example, Larry Chambers keeps dreaming about wolves in "The Dream of the Wolf" while his domestic situation deteriorates. One of the high points of this collection is a biography of a depressed, somewhat superior dog named "Dazzle," who dislikes his owners ("The Canis familiaris utters a guttural diphthong, much like the Mandarin Chinese diphthong, only less enunciated," muses Dazzle when their six-year-old daughter insists, "The little doggy go woof.") and eventually runs away in order to breed a family of his own. Even the purely human interactions often have something chillingly bestial about them, as in "The Darling," in which Dolores Starr avenges herself on the men who abuse her by killing them. Bradfield takes chances with characters and points of view (delusional diaries appear in two stories, another is seen through the eyes of an apparently autistic child); but when he's at his cooly provocative best, the risk pays off. (Apr.)
Library Journal
In this collection of short stories, Bradfield dilutes the dark satire of his novel Animal Planet (LJ 9/1/95) with literary aspirations. The result, while often funny, is not as effective. In "Dazzle," a ennui-plagued dog suffers through psychotherapy and one-sided conversations with less-gifted dogs before going on the lam into the "unfenced world." A records manager becomes convinced that his vivid hallucinations are real in "The Dream of the Wolf" and drives off his family in pursuit of the truth. A would-be poet keeps an inane journal of his pseudo-intellectual vacillations in "Diary of a Forgotten Transcendentalist," featuring entries such as "Took another long walk in the woods today. I got lost." Most of the stories are set in the sprawling Los Angeles suburbs that Raymond Carver used so effectively in his work. The forgotten towns and mall restaurants evoke a vision of America that is only vaguely aware of its decline. Bradfield's incidental plots take a backseat to mood and character. As a result, many of these stories end in abrupt violence; most do not really end at all. Not as satisfying as his earlier work, but a few gems make it worth a look.-Adam Mazmanian, "Library Journal"
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780312140885
  • Publisher: Picador USA
  • Publication date: 2/1/1996
  • Pages: 296
  • Product dimensions: 5.51 (w) x 8.29 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Table of Contents

The Dream of the Wolf 1
The Darling 25
Sweet Ladies, Good Night, Good Night 43
The Wind Box 53
Closer to You 71
The Last Man That Time 80
Didn't She Know 90
In the Time of the Great Dying 102
Ghost Guessed 108
Dazzle 120
White Lamp 133
Hey Hey Hey 145
The Other Man 175
The Promise 184
The Flash! Kid 197
The Monster 209
Greetings From Earth 220
Unmistakably the Finest 232
Diary of a Forgotten Transcendentalist 252
The Secret Life of Houses 264
The Parakeet and the Cat 284
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