Honeymoon: And Other Stories

Overview

The characters in Kevin Canty’s new collection are people we all know. People who are perhaps ourselves, searching, often in the wrong places, for something meaningful, or real, or at least, for a moment, right. Here are couples like Vincent and Laurie, who after beginning an ill-timed relationship, escape for a weekend at the beach, where they confront their inevitable separation. There is also Olive, a recovering drug addict, sent on a mission to help her nephew, who finds herself in an illicit relationship ...
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Overview

The characters in Kevin Canty’s new collection are people we all know. People who are perhaps ourselves, searching, often in the wrong places, for something meaningful, or real, or at least, for a moment, right. Here are couples like Vincent and Laurie, who after beginning an ill-timed relationship, escape for a weekend at the beach, where they confront their inevitable separation. There is also Olive, a recovering drug addict, sent on a mission to help her nephew, who finds herself in an illicit relationship with both him and his problems. And a young boy nicknamed Flipper, sequestered for a summer at a “fat” camp, who finds unexpected comfort in the company and forbidden gifts of a pregnant teenager.

In these stories, Canty demonstrates both deep understanding and a powerful grasp of language and continues to set himself apart as a master of the short story.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“A very beautiful book.” –The New York Times Book Review

“The language is beautiful, the attraction fatal. . . . [Canty] is a poet among storytellers.” –Atlanta Journal-Constitution

“Kevin Canty’s stories are short, spare and both beautiful and painful to read.” –The Washington Post

“The ease with which he renders such a vast terrain of lives–from city to wilderness, children to adults, professionals to proles is Canty’s crowning achievement.” –Time Out New York

Entertainment Weekly
Canty's searing, smart, and beautifully nuanced prose is a pleasure to read from beginning to end.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The distinctive, idiosyncratic voices of antiheroes floundering in a world dissolving around them distinguish the 11 tersely lyrical stories of Canty's second short story collection. At the beginning of "Aquarium," 38-year-old Olive is in Seattle visiting her nephew who has been caught once again using heroin. They continue an affair, though Olive knows better. "[S]he can practically recite from therapy: It's OK to have this feeling... it's never OK to act." This, Olive thinks, is the secret of adult life, "the secret to OKness." The most successful stories here are about characters, like the protagonist of Canty's novel Into the Great Wide Open, who are painfully learning that being an adult requires pretense. In "Flipper," a fat kid escapes from fat camp and meets a pregnant teenager whose gift of chocolate provokes a larger hunger in him. In "Carolina Beach," Vincent, divorced, and Laurie, dying of cancer, go to a seaside resort seeking a respite from lives in which affection is something read about in a magazine. "Red Dress" is narrated by an 11-year-old who is tired of listening to "the oceanic hubbub below" at his parents' frequent parties and promotes himself to bartender. Then he gets that predictable unbidden glimpse and understands the "assertion of normalcy" behind his mother's casual, dry kisses on the top of his head. Cool, quick and brutal, these stories gives the lie to the heavy realities they chronicle, swooping deftly along a well-honed razor's edge. (Apr.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
This is Canty's second short-story collection, after A Stranger in This World: Stories (LJ 8/94). In Canty's terse, revealing tales, something always happens, with inevitable results. "Carolina Beach," an excellent vignette drenched in sadness, limns the story of a woman who may die of cancer and the man who wants to love her. "Red Dress" highlights an adolescent boy who sees his mother, with whom he never connects, change from housewife to glamorous hostess at the parties his parents give. "Flipper" explores the growing pains of a young boy who is sent to a "fatties" camp and is educated in unexpected ways. In the title story, "Honeymoon," when an ex-boyfriend and lesbian girlfriend leave their traitorous friend's wedding, sparks fly and solace comes in alcohol and the great outdoors. These are provocative stories of characters ungrounded, strangers to others and themselves, written with an honesty and in-your-face realism that can take your breath away. Recommended for all libraries with contemporary fiction collections. Mary Szczesiul, Roseville P.L., MI Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Oregonian Canty proves once again that short fiction (A Stranger in This World, 1994, etc.) best showcases his eloquence of events, a quality more inimitable than beautiful word-whirling. In novels such as Nine Below Zero (1999), Canty's dancing sentence fragments tend to cramp up, as if the nature of a long work put too great a crunch on his skill. His stories relax, trim though they are, and without fail hook you firmly time and again. The characters are usually bottoming out, bashed by hard luck but not yet human trash. Well, mostly not trash, but even the trash is given the gift of irony that helps an utterly crushed man rise up smiling, as in the longest piece here, "Little Palaces," about a wheelchair-bound man living with his dead wife's twin sister. He can't give up the van, his little palace, that he had restored after running off the road and killing his wife in it. In the perfect title story, first seen in The New Yorker, "the bride invited only people she had slept with." Among the jilted are her lesbian lover and a male lover, who now go off boozing together. All the tales stand tall and invite rereading, but the standout is "Carolina Beach." Its protagonist is a lawyer romancing the bald mother of two. Survivor of a double mastectomy, she now has perhaps six months to live and has built a hard shell against self-pity that he must break through to get her into bed. On a chilly beach walk, he holds her hand: "small and cold and full of bones." Stunning strength throughout. The literary world boasts silver-tongued Irishmen and moody regionalists aplenty, but Canty is in a class of his own.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780375708008
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 12/3/2002
  • Series: Vintage Contemporaries Series
  • Edition description: FIRST
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 161
  • Product dimensions: 5.18 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Read an Excerpt

Tokyo, My Love

Some scenery, then: a sleeping city by the ocean, streetlights and foghorns, a wisp of fog curling down the hills (in fact cigar smoke, blown by a production assistant just off camera). Unbeknownst to the citizens, a group of lit windows in one of the tall towers, busy with buzzers and maps, people shouting in Japanese: the command post. The tiny princesses are kidnapped. The missiles are racing into place.

I am the thing that happens next.

I feel myself evolving. You of all cities, Tokyo—you must know what this feels like, the little fishing village somewhere near your heart, the layers of houses and shopping and industry accreting, century by century, to form your black pearl. . . . You are not what you were. You are not what you will be.

The rockets are gathering in the suburbs, and I am changing.

To go from one body to the next, to watch your wings develop out of nowhere, beautiful, spotted wings, to feel the many segments of your abdomen contract and swell, swallowing the hundred tiny legs—too many of them!—and then one morning the new strong legs under you, holding you up. I am beautiful. Your tanks can’t stop me.

I know: Two men with mustaches have the princesses locked in a cage somewhere in the city, two near-Americans in business suits, etcetera. The princesses will be fine in the end. They will sing to me again, and I will go back to my island.

But all that is later. All that is plot. This is the moment that I love, this right now: the city sleeping, waiting, my body evolving, everything about to happen and the calm before. I can feel the city, there in the dark, waiting. I can feel how much you want me, Tokyo. Without me, without the thing that is about to happen, there’s no escape from the chain of days, turning clothes into laundry and then washing the laundry, folding the clothes, stacking them away. Who could stand it? Who could love a life like that? Admit it: You know what I’m talking about. The thing inside you that wants a hurricane, a fire a flood, that wants to hear the beat of giant spotted wings, my wings, bearing down on the city, the jets of flame spewing from my mouth and the helpless tiny planes as I bat them to the ground. You want to see the tanks roll into the street, the long sentence of Japanese that translates somehow into the single word: “Fire!” Admit it: That’s what you’re doing here, isn’t it? some tiny homeopathic dose of the hurricane you want, so that you don’t choke on your own boredom. You want tanks and burning buildings, railcars flying, rocketry and gasoline, the prehistoric scream—out of my lungs, Tokyo—that will burst every ear that hears it.

Not yet.

This is my moment, the moment before. These are my beautiful wings, unfurling. You wait, unsleeping. You wait for me. I am the thing that happens next—to you, Tokyo. Tokyo my love. To you.

From the Hardcover edition.

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Table of Contents

Tokyo, My Love 1
Aquarium 4
Flipper 26
Honeymoon 38
Carolina Beach 48
Red Dress 66
Sleepers Holding Hands 79
Little Debbie 95
Scarecrow 103
Little Palaces 111
Girlfriend Hit by Bus 148
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 3, 2003

    Powerful

    These graceful and poignant stories shimmer. Canty's characters are expertly drawn, and the prose is nothing short of poetic. The imaginative worlds of these 11 stories are by turns brutal, odd, and beautiful. A must read for story enthusiasts.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 18, 2003

    Expected better

    Having read A Stranger In This World by Mr. Canty, I went into this novel of short stories with high expectations. Unfortunately, it pales in comparison. Ordinarily, Mr. Canty's fluid writing is something to behold, but he's off the mark with this one. He's capable of much more than this. Not terrible, but not great either.

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