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Intimations
     

Intimations

by Alexandra Kleeman
 

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From the celebrated author of You Too Can Have a Body Like Mine,a thought-provoking, often unsettling story collection that consists, broadly, of narrative diagrams of the three main stages in a human life: birth, life, and death.

Alexandra Kleeman’s debut novel You Too Can Have a Body Like Mine earned her comparisons to Thomas Pynchon

Overview

From the celebrated author of You Too Can Have a Body Like Mine,a thought-provoking, often unsettling story collection that consists, broadly, of narrative diagrams of the three main stages in a human life: birth, life, and death.

Alexandra Kleeman’s debut novel You Too Can Have a Body Like Mine earned her comparisons to Thomas Pynchon, Don DeLillo, Ben Marcus, and Tom Perrotta. It was praised by the New York Times as "a powerful allegory of our civilization’s many maladies, artfully and elegantly articulated, by one of the young wise women of our generation."

In her second book, a collection of twelve stories irresistibly seductive in their strangeness, she explores human life from beginning to end: the distress of birth into a world already formed; the brief and confusing period of "living" where we understand what is expected of us and struggle to do it; and the death-y period toward the end where we sense it is ending and will end only partially understood, at best.

The title is taken from one of the stories ("Intimation"), but is also a play on Wordsworth's "Intimations of Immortality"—only in this case it’s not clear exactly what is being intimated, but it’s nothing so gleaming and good as Immortality. The middle, "Living" section of the book, is fleshed out with a set of stories that borrow more from traditional realist fiction to illustrate the inner lives of the characters.

At once familiar and mysterious, these stories have an eerie resonance as its characters find themselves in new and surprising situations. An unnamed woman enters a room with no exit and a ready-made life; the disappearance of people, objects, and memory creates an apocalypse; the art of dance is used to try to tame a feral child; the key to surviving a house-party lies in knowing the difference between fake and real blood.

Elegant, surprising, wondrous, and haunting, Intimations is an utterly transporting collection from one of our most ingenious and brilliant young writers.

Editorial Reviews

The New York Times Book Review - Hermione Hoby
Like an alien intent on some meticulous anthropological mission on Earth, Alexandra Kleeman seems always to be encountering the world for the first time. In Intimations, her first story collection, she places us in both the realm of skewed, weird-dream fables…and the more recognizable settings of realist stories, no less strange for it. Whether in a generic beach resort…or an apocalyptic tundra of AstroTurf and bunnies…the world is parsed with a charming exactitude that magnifies all its latent marvels and especially horrors—the blacker and more peculiar these stories get, the funnier they are…Kleeman's stories [are] brilliantly alive.
The New York Times - John Williams
…Ms. Kleeman finds just about every level of existence fantastical and unnerving—cultural mores, the unspoken rules of interpersonal relationships, the very fact of having a body. In her most experimental stories, she conveys this alienation with the mad-scientist approach of classic postmodernists like Donald Barthelme…The stories [that]…are more conventionally structured [are]…brilliantly executed, proving that Ms. Kleeman is adept at more than oddity. Reading her, you are left feeling dislocated by the world's strangeness, and wondering if she and her discombobulated characters are really the sane ones.
Publishers Weekly
07/18/2016
Following her excellent debut novel, You Too Can Have a Body Like Mine, Kleeman brings her twisted, evocative style to a thought-provoking collection of stories. In “Fairy Tale,” Kleeman creates a dreamlike scene: a woman sits at a banquet table that feels “sorely, mortally dangerous.” A man appears and provides “assurances that I love you, that I think of you deeply,” and then says, “Also, I came here to kill you.” Barbarism and the perils of intimacy continue as themes throughout the collection. “The Weather” is an atmospheric, metaphysical examination of a family (“We study the weather from within this house, and we are the weather within this house”). The stories in the second section of the book have a more realistic but no less unsettling tone. “Choking Victim,” about a lonely young mother, stands out as an exploration of the lurking danger of the everyday. In the third and final section, Kleeman explores death and endings: “Fake Blood” is about a party that turns dark and violent while “Hylomorphosis” is about what, exactly, angels are made of. These stories, absurdist, bleak, and funny, defy straightforward interpretation and instead linger long afterward, to be reinterpreted as they mutate in the reader’s mind. Agent: Claudia Ballard, WME Entertainment. (Sept.)
Bust Magazine
“Satisfying…Intimations lives in the realm of almost-familiarity, that of dreams-and nightmares. Kleeman’s prose is always clever, though, and she can pull off Roald Dahl-style, funhouse mirror stuff…Kleeman’s singular voice is most finely tuned when she is exposing the disturbing in the commonplace.”
Zadie Smith
“Stunning.”
the Oprah Magazine O
“Just 30 and already being compared to Thomas Pynchon, Kleeman confirms her status with her latest: 12 deliciously unsettling short stories.”
Nylon.com
“Happily, this new collection means we can all get an extended peek into Kleeman’s brilliant brain thanks to each of these beautifully crafted stories.”
Best books of 2016 LitHub
“Alexandra Kleeman’s smart, strange, deeply unsettling debut novel You Too Can Have a Body Like Mine was one of the most creepily brilliant-not to mention wholly original-books of 2015. The twelve stories that make up her new collection, Intimations—some of which have already made a splash in The New Yorker, The Paris Review, BOMB, Guernica and elsewhere—prove that she is every bit as adept with the shorter form.”
Esquire
“...For those who find the realist novel duller than opera.”
New York Magazine
“The best of the stories in Alexandra Kleeman’s collection INTIMATIONS unfold in dreamlike settings that are more than a little dangerous. There are sharp teeth, axes, and claws and not a few pools of blood. But Kleeman’s scary stories have a gentle comic edge. She has a gothic imagination and a wit keen to the absurdities of American culture - particularly its dietary vices and media horror shows. She can do realism, but not without a few screws coming loose.”
GQ Magazine
“…. Her narrators tend toward a kind of sad, disaffected everywoman who understand something is wrong, even if they can’t identify what it is. . .. . They often read like aliens pretending to pass themselves off as human, becoming inordinately fixated on little details-e.g. the beauty of door knobs-and strangely distant and unsure of what is happening in their environment. The tension between the vague and specific, the real and fantastical is great. . . . Really scary without being too scary. Really great.”
Vogue.com
“A kind of philosophical whimsy infuses Alexandra Kleeman’s INTIMATIONS, but it’s the everyday strangeness at play in a trio of stories about a young woman named Karen that makes this collection a standout.”
The Last Magazine
“Kleeman’s greatest strength is in teasing out the precariousness and fragility of life, finding menace in the banal and the everyday while offering the promise of self-awareness, even without answers.”
LA Review of Books
“Exceptional… In [one] story, a character feels ‘that all her life she would be moving from positions of perceived danger to positions of perceived safety without ever knowing which impressions were correct.’ These stories tell us that we’re at the mercy of these impressions, even though we may try to control our danger, our safety. Kleeman thrives in this space between.”
New York Times Book Review
“Brilliantly alive. . . . the world is parsed with a charming exactitude that magnifies all its latent marvels and especially horrors—the blacker and more peculiar these stories get, the funnier they are.”
O: the Oprah Magazine
“Just 30 and already being compared to Thomas Pynchon, Kleeman confirms her status with her latest: 12 deliciously unsettling short stories.”
New York Times
“Impressive...brilliantly executed...Reading her, you are left feeling dislocated by the world’s strangeness, and wondering if she and her discombobulated characters are really the sane ones.”
BookRiot
“A delightful reading experience...These stories are about what all stories are about—birth, life, death—and do what good stories do in my opinion: reveal the inner lives of their characters.”
Booktrib.com
“Unlike anything that I’d read before…eerie, unsettling, whimsical and surreal…Kleeman will transport you to a haunting new realm in each story, where the line between the ordinary and extraordinary blurs.”
Sweet
“[Kleeman] has created are often uncomfortable and surreal, at once apocalyptic and totally familiar… Kleeman’s gift is in creating a book that feels like falling sideways into an unsettling mirror image of our own world.
Robert Coover
“Perhaps the most distinctive stories in Alexandra Kleeman’s INTIMATIONS are the brilliantly crafted nightmares about the dissolving of reality, but there is also everything here from an elegant Victorian tale of a feral child to a witty disquisition on the mouths of angels. A memory of childhood with an invented sister is told by way of a “brief history of weather,” a romantic break-up by way of apocalyptic metaphors. This is ambitious imaginative writing of the highest quality.”
Entertainment Weekly
“A collection of haunting, experimental stories about human life.”
Elle
“Alexandra Kleeman sees things differently. At least, that’s how it feels when you read these curious and lovely stories. Existence, survival, touch: all become strange in this collection from the author of You Too Can Have a Body Like Mine, as if the author knows of a different dimension or scientific method we have no idea is out there.”
Booklist
“A cerebral story collection about the torments of an abrasive world and such visceral topics as mortality, vulnerability, love, and loss of control… Kleeman thoroughly owns her material, and her inventive collection offers a prodigious exploration into distinctive realms.”
Cosmopolitan
“Kleeman presents family dysfunction, romantic entanglements, and survival through an intriguingly warped lens.”
The Guardian
“Last year’s You Too Can Have A Body Like Mine established Kleeman as a millennial novelist to watch and earned her comparisons to Thomas Pynchon. She’s a patient, lyrical chronicler of young urban people and this new collection of 12 short stories sees her take on all stages of human life in her unique style.”
Nylon
“Happily, this new collection means we can all get an extended peek into Kleeman’s brilliant brain thanks to each of these beautifully crafted stories.”
Huffington Post
“Like DeLillo, [Kleeman’s] spare sentences are each powerful in their own right, but they work together to form funny critiques of her surroundings…her characters pick apart the meanings of specific words in absurd, realer-than-real scenes.”
Bustle
“Kleeman’s brilliance shines through finding words for thoughts and feelings that feel entirely unique and then applying them to universal human fears and conditions. To think, love and death had so many extraordinary intersections. . . . Intimations is a book to talk about and a book to dive into.”
The Millions
“Kleeman is working in the surrealism-neighboring-naturalism tradition of preceding wunderkinds like Téa Obreht and Jonathan Safran Foer, where sections of dreamlike allegory supplement sections telling the primary “real life” story…Kleeman is masterful at the sentence level. At the book level, she is ambitious and inventive. Once she works out the interstitials, she’ll be spawning imitators of her own.”
Laura van den Berg
“To begin an Alexandra Kleeman story is to tumble into a world where the line between the fantastic and the ordinary, between love and violence, between terror and joy, is thrillingly porous. INTIMATIONS is an enlivening and deliciously unpredictable work of fiction, the kind that demonstrates an all-too-rare respect for the deep mystery of the human heart.”
Téa Obreht
“Reading INTIMATIONS is like being in a funhouse come alive-a funhouse that’s sharper, funnier and more incisive than you can imagine, already three steps ahead, and about to land a sentence that will knock you out. Alexandra Kleeman has staked her claim to an unforgettable, lustrous tract of imagination.”
Buzzfeed
“To read Kleeman’s new story collection INTIMATIONS is to look at the world through a strange, often surreal set of eyes… INTIMATIONS brilliantly highlights the anxieties and absurdities of our mortality. Prepare to be unsettled. Prepare to be transported. This book will linger with you long after you’ve finished reading.”
Raging Biblioholism
“Strange, lovely, curious….Kleeman is a potent voice, here to stay and delight and prod at the gray matter of the reader’s brain for a long time to come. I myself look forward to it.”
Library Journal
09/01/2016
Winner of the 2016 Bard Fiction Prize for You Too Can Have a Body Like Mine, Kleeman returns with 12 edgy stories that have a surreal, even primal feel. A young woman, sitting in a dining room with her parents, is confused by the increasing number of unrecognizable men (one murderous) claiming to be her suitors, while a dancing-master in an unspecified time and place is smugly convinced that his art can civilize a feral lad who's staggered into the village. Elsewhere, a journalist fails to connect with a man she's met while trying to write a story about a dairy farmer, and meteorological events have a scattered impact on family in a too-fragmented narrative. VERDICT Disturbing and fantastical in concept if not in language, these stories have the same disaffected feel as Kleeman's novel and won't convince all readers. For Kleeman fans. [See Prepub Alert, 3/21/16.]
Kirkus Reviews
2016-06-30
Twelve stories take up a variety of absurdist premises to investigate the meaning of life.“Nobody thought the apocalypse would be so polite and quirky,” according to the final story in this collection, which imagines the end as a series of disappearances—first the house keys, then the cat, then one’s boyfriend, a lake, one’s memories. This sort of whimsical philosophical inquiry is a common thread in Kleeman’s (You Too Can Have a Body Like Mine, 2015) second book. With a literary genealogy that includes great-uncles like DeLillo and Pynchon and cousins like Rivka Galchen and Ben Marcus and can be traced back to/blamed on Samuel Beckett, many of the stories take up matters like “what if lobsters sought revenge?” “what if you forgot who you were?” and “what if the fake blood at a costume party were real?” using a narrator who sometimes seems like a normal person and sometimes like a disembodied poetic intelligence. In the latter form, we get passages like “The snow is what sand would be if it could forget its material, if it could forget its hardness, roughness, if it could forget its own weight. And the snow is what we would be if we could forget ours. If we could become the things we pretend instead of merely pretending at them, playing over and over at a game of falling silent and soft from couch to floor, making ourselves silent and soft as we can, playing at being snow, playing until our elbows and sides are too sore to move.” If that—from a 43-page story called “A Brief History of Weather”—goes over your head, there's a group of realist stories embedded in the middle of the collection with a central character named Karen. One of these, “Choking Victim,” recently appeared in the New Yorker. Its take on early motherhood combines more conventional character development and plot tension with the “intimations of mortality” that provide a focus for this rather inconsistent collection. For fans of the avant-garde.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780062388704
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
09/13/2016
Pages:
240
Sales rank:
168,278
Product dimensions:
6.20(w) x 9.10(h) x 0.90(d)

Meet the Author

Alexandra Kleeman has written for the New Yorker, Harper's, Paris Review, Zoetrope, Tin House, VOGUE, and n+1. She received her MFA in fiction from Columbia University and has received grants and scholarships from the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference, the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, and the Santa Fe Art Institute. She was the 2016 winner of the Bard Fiction Prize, and lives in New York.

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