North of Nowhere, South of Loss: Stories

Overview

"A new standard for the short story genre that will be hard to surpass." —Library Journal
In these prize-winning, "heartbreakingly nuanced" (Speakeasy) stories, Janette Turner Hospital explores the infinite incarnations of loss; lovers meeting again in midlife re-experience, through the memory of photographs both real and imagined, the passion that both frightened and thrilled them; a young dental hygienist adrift, living in a hostel in northern Australia, receives a heart-wrenching visit from her drug-dependent ...

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Overview

"A new standard for the short story genre that will be hard to surpass." —Library Journal
In these prize-winning, "heartbreakingly nuanced" (Speakeasy) stories, Janette Turner Hospital explores the infinite incarnations of loss; lovers meeting again in midlife re-experience, through the memory of photographs both real and imagined, the passion that both frightened and thrilled them; a young dental hygienist adrift, living in a hostel in northern Australia, receives a heart-wrenching visit from her drug-dependent brother; a mother and adolescent daughter move into a new house, and their sense of safety is shaken when the previous owner reappears, desperate to reclaim what he has lost. Hospital's characters oscillate between estrangement and intense connectedness, between a permanent sense of dislocation and a yearning to belong.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
The Australian rainforest and the humid American South are the suffocating backdrops for most of these brooding, densely lyrical 14 stories by Hospital (Oyster; Due Preparations for the Plague; etc.). "For Mr. Voss or Occupant" begins with a feeling of foreboding, as Laura White moves herself and her daughter into a house that may be haunted by the very real presence of its former occupant, and ends abruptly with a foreshadowed but still shocking conclusion. A set of four connected stories explores the relationship of Philippa and Brian, friends since childhood in Brisbane. Philippa, an artist, frequently slips into flights of fancy from which Brian, a rational scientist, calls her back. In "Unperformed Experiments," Philippa dreams of Brian and worries that he is in trouble. In "Cape Tribulation," Philippa's nightmares are realized as Brian, worn down by overwork, succumbs to a world of hallucination, populated by ideas and fantasies that could well have been borrowed from Philippa. "And now this comeuppance: he is having her nightmares." Hospital's trademark focus on interior thoughts can be wearing, but welcome relief is provided by dialogue-rich stories such as the lively "Frames and Wonders," which follows a photographer and his lover on a chase through an ancient forest as he tries to capture her in photographic images. These short stories unfold like poems, compact and mysterious, with clues buried within. Agent, Elaine Markson. (Oct.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Hospital (Due Preparations for the Plague, 2003, etc.), an Australian now living in South Carolina, uses both continents as settings in this progression of 14 dreamy yet tightly constructed stories about chance, attachment, and disappearance. Spaced apart, four stories about Philippa and Brian create a spine for the book. The two, who grew up together in tropical northern Australia, share an enduring yet diaphanous friendship that spans divergent careers, thousands of miles, and long stretches of silence. In the opening story, "The Ocean of Brisbane," Philippa witnesses Brian on a visit home as he escapes spending time with his devoted mother. In following stories, Philippa tracks the elusive Brian, who communicates often in her dreams but seldom in person. He disappears into his work, into mental illness, and finally into death in "Night Train." By then the facts of their lives have been revealed, but more important are these characters' recurring sensations of misplacement, loss, and fleeting connection-sensations that inform every incident in the volume. The title piece follows a young woman unable to embrace a promising present because she's so injured by her past. In the nightmarish "For Mr Voss or Occupant," a woman's identity, with fatal results, becomes confused with that of the former tenant of her new house. In "Flight," a woman who runs away from her life in Australia out of misplaced guilt over a chance occurrence that ended tragically begins a new life by trusting chance. In "South of Loss," the only previously unpublished story here, the failed attempt of two lonely outsiders to help a battered woman's child brings them a limited state of grace. In "Nativity," a whiteprofessor from Boston watches his estranged, unmarried black daughter give birth in Atlanta. Optimism begins to lighten the earlier gloom. At last, in "The End-of-the-Line End-of-the-World Disco," a woman disappears out of joy instead of fear. Stylistically demanding, sometimes overly so, but unforgettable. This woman can write.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780393327526
  • Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 3/20/2006
  • Pages: 304
  • Sales rank: 1,196,303
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Janette Turner Hospital received Australia's Patrick White Award for lifetime literary achievement, and is Distinguished Professor of English at the University of South Carolina. She lives in Columbia, South Carolina.

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Table of Contents

The ocean of Brisbane 1
North of nowhere 23
For Mr. Voss or occupant 44
Unperformed experiments have no results 77
Our own little Kakadu 96
Cape Tribulation 114
Flight 128
Frames and wonders 145
Nativity 168
Credit repair 194
South of loss 218
Night train 237
Litany for the homeland 256
The end-of-the-line end-of-the-world disco 273
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