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“A powerful book, one in which strangers share with you their darkest secrets, their happiest memories, their fears, their regrets. To read these essays is to look into hearts, to see life from other viewpoints, to live vicariously.” —The Boston Globe
“Unforgettable testimonials of human resilience. Moving and amusing dispatches from across America.” —Us Weekly (starred review)
“Human foibles and frailties, laughter and tears...We are all hearing—and telling—stories all the time, especially now, in these days when life itself seems so fragile and precious. But Paul Auster’s wonderful efforts, choosing these fine stories, have given us a timely and invaluable reminder of what it means to listen—to really listen—to America talking.” —The Times-Picayune (New Orleans)
“Finally, a bathroom book worthy of Pulitzer consideration: the one-to-three-page stories gathered in this astonishing, addictive collection are absolute gems.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“It is difficult to think of another book published this year, and probably any book to be published next year, that is so simple and so obvious, so excellent in intention and so elegant in its execution, and which displays such wisdom and such knowledge of human life in all its varieties. It is also difficult to think of a book that is so stark a reminder that human experience can be horrid and utterly unbelievable, and which therefore answers so precisely to our current needs and circumstances.”—The Guardian (UK)
“As this collection ably proves, we all shape experience into stories, and Auster has done a storyteller’s job himself of grouping these pieces effectively. Highly recommended.” —Library Journal (starred review)
“Like no other book I have read in years, this one restored my belief in Americans and the American experience.” —Philip Levine, Ploughshares
I told the listeners that I was looking for stories. The stories had to be true, and they had to be short, but there would be no restrictions as to subject matter or style. What interested me most, I said, were stories that defied our expectations of the world, anecdotes that revealed the mysterious and unknowable forces at work in our lives, in our family histories, in our minds and bodies, in our souls . . . I was hoping to put together an archive of facts, a museum of American reality.
More than ever, I have come to appreciate how deeply and passionately most of us live within ourselves. Our attachments are ferocious. Our loves overwhelm us, define us, obliterate the boundaries between ourselves and others. —from the Prologue
So there was Mr. Bernhauser yelling at us to get the hell out of his tree, and my father asked him what the problem was. Mr. Bernhauser took a deep breath and launched into a diatribe about thieving kids, breakers of rules, takers of fruit, and monsters in general. I guess my father had had enough, for the next thing he did was shout at Mr. Bernhauser and tell him to drop dead. Mr. Bernhauser stopped screaming, looked at my father, turned bright red, then purple, grabbed his chest, turned gray, and slowly folded to the ground. I thought my father was God. That he could yell at a miserable old man and make him die on command was beyond my comprehension. —Robert Winnie Bonners Ferry, Idaho
Posted August 22, 2006
Memorable events spark personal feelings. Lessons may be learned from others' experiences. Warning: Do not read introduction to book. A horrific picture will settle in your mind.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted October 8, 2003
Great book! I especially liked BALLERINA, very well written.. I'd say the author should take up writing short stories. I'm not American, live in Europe and thought it was a good idea to get a better picture of this people.. I have..!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted February 27, 2002
Among the four thousand entries, imagine my surprise when my story (T321 Interpretation of Dreams) was included in the book. Once I received my copy, I promptly sat down and began reading. Hours later, I realized how amazing it is to see how each of us, not matter how ordinary, have extraordinary occurances in our own lives. It is an honor to be included, and you will not be sorry that you purchased this book! From stories about war to lost loves reunited, you will treasure the brief moments you get to share with each author.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted November 11, 2001
What a wonderful collection of short stories to help us realize we are all connected at some level, that we are all human, that there runs a common thread among us. A must read.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted July 21, 2001
Fantastic compendium of real life, unpasturized and un-homoginized. Great stories and great writing! I especially liked 'Andy & the Snake' by this guy named Fabian (is that a real name?). I got chills reading it.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted June 30, 2009
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