She offers an archaeology of feeling layered with pure, vivid insight.
A hip New Yorker confronts the accident of middle age.
New York Times Book ReviewSilber, the author of two previous novels, treats dysfunction a bit more gently than Lorrie Moore, with whom she shares a marvelous, perspicacious wit. Her characters struggle to keep going, however slowly, without losing their dignity. . . These elegant and wise stories pay tribute to ordinary urban heroes people who have lived long enough to know that when misfortune shows up, there's no need to make a fuss.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's WeeklyTroubled, middle-aged New Yorkers ponder their wild youthful selves and their belated or botched second chances in these 12 accessible, moving tales. Novelist Silber (Household Words; In the City) imagines households of mostly decent, though emotionally scarred, women and men trying to cope with kids, difficult exes or grown siblings. Some of these reflective characters can hardly believe they've outlived their perilous youth. The loquacious narrator in "Bobby Jackson" reminisces about his days as a downtown bartender and smack addict ("I was swimming around in fulfilled wishes"). He's survived to become a divorced realtor with a daughter, but fears his pals from the old days have fared far worse. In "Lake Natasink" (first published in the New Yorker), Patty and her lover, Charlotte, prepare to move with their adopted baby from New York City to a farmhouse upstate; "Ordinary" follows these same three characters to their not-quite-paradisial country life. Here and in the poignant "Commendable," Silber authentically depicts the affections and troubles of unconventional couples, making accurate, sensitive prose look easy. She can also sharply portray dysfunctional couples, or uneasy relationships among exes. Devotees of Alice Munro will find in Silber a simpler take on some of Munro's favorite themes: the revised expectations of middle age; the fading and nuanced traumas of adolescence; the lingering hangover from the hippie era. "What Lasts," a tale of volatile newlyweds, contains some of the book's most striking, skeptical writing, exemplary of the keen, expressive sense of the improbable, of dumb luck and ill luck, and of unlikely recovery that makes Silber's stories so warmly convincing. Agent, Geri Thoma at the Elaine Markson Literary Agency. (May) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.|
Library JournalSilber's appropriately titled new collection features characters who lived recklessly in their young adulthood but have reached a middle age fraught with mundane problems and the typical issues raised by spouses and children. "Lake Natasink" and "Ordinary" portray the experiences of a lesbian couple before and after they move from New York City to a small town upstate. New York figures prominently in many stories as a place either to escape from or return to. Many of the characters' younger selves worked in bars and restaurants, supplementing their income with drug dealing. "Bobby Jackson" captures the nostalgia for "hanging out" with friends after work and staying up all night. In "First Marriage" a woman is surprised to find that her green card marriage is permanent. A nicely executed collection; recommended.--Christine DeZelar-Tiedman, Univ. of Idaho Lib., Moscow Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.\
- Sarabande Books
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- 1 ED
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- 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.60(d)
What People are saying about this
Jane HamiltonJoan Silber's characters have a hard-won wisdom that, after all, is afforded to them straight and true. The language of these wonderful stories is just that too, clean and sharp, funny and wise. I loved the various men and women and children-the wounded, the hopeful, the uncertain, the lucky-who people Silber's landscape.
Andrea BarrettJoan Silber writes with wisdom, humor, grace, and wry intelligence. In her astonishing, unusual stories, characters who lived one life when they were young emerge, after metamorphoses almost Ovidian, bewildered and grateful in another. They bear with them welcome news of how we all survive.
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