The Stories (So Far) of Deborah Eisenberg

The Stories (So Far) of Deborah Eisenberg

by Deborah Eisenberg
     
 

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When Deborah Eisenberg's first book of stories, Transactions in a Foreign Currency, was published, John Updike noted: "Whenever a new writer arrives, a new window of life is opened, and this has happened here." The scope and depth of Eisenberg's idiosyncratic vision were even more apparent in her second collection, Under the 82nd Airborne, which

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Overview

When Deborah Eisenberg's first book of stories, Transactions in a Foreign Currency, was published, John Updike noted: "Whenever a new writer arrives, a new window of life is opened, and this has happened here." The scope and depth of Eisenberg's idiosyncratic vision were even more apparent in her second collection, Under the 82nd Airborne, which The New York Times Book Review called "nothing short of extraordinary."

As these two collections gathered here into one volume show, Eisenberg's stories have an astonishing power and range. Her characters, whether they are walking in the streets of Manhattan or seemingly abandoned in foreign countries, continually make disquieting and sometimes life-threatening discoveries about themselves, discoveries that illuminate not only their own lives but also the wider net of relationships in which they are enmeshed.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
When her first collection, Transactions in a Foreign Currency, appeared in 1987, Eisenberg was already a master of New Yorker-ish stories. She studded her gentle satires of the upper and bohemian classes with moments of startling, acute sympathy: "at the sight of the cloakroom, with its rows of expensive, empty coats that called up a world in which generous, broad-shouldered men, and women in marvelous dresses (much like the one I myself happened to be wearing) inclined toward each other on banquettes, I was pierced by a feeling so keen and unalloyed it might have been called-I don't know what it might have been called. It felt like-well, grief... actually." Eisenberg favors first-person narrators and is an excellent mimic. Her reconstruction of altered states-drunk, drugged, dreaming or simply dazed-recall Anne Beattie. In stories like "Flotsam" or the brilliant "A Lesson in Traveling Light," Eisenberg ventures fearlessly into Beattie territory of baffled post-1960s (or '70s, or '80s) disaffection and claims it for her own. The addition of such works as "The Robbery," "Presents," "The Custodian" and "Under the 82nd Airborne" brings new menace to her oeuvre. With these stories from her 1991 collection (also called Under the 82nd Airborne), her satire becomes less gentle. Its targets range from adultery to American imperialism, and everywhere violence and self-destruction threaten the sad, fragile lives that her characters build for themselves. The reprinting of these two collections as one is sure to win Eisenberg's stories an even wider audience than they now enjoy. (Mar.)
Library Journal
Eisenberg's landscapes-urban, urbane Manhattan; a banana-republic jungle-are peopled with the lost and wounded. Whether paralyzed by cocaine, culture shock, or unraveling relationships, her characters-usually female and speaking in the first person-draw the reader into situations where nuance rules and nothing's quite what it seems. (Imagine Anita Brookner crossed with Laurie Colwin.) In these 14 stories, which appeared in two earlier collections, Transactions in a Foreign Currency (Knopf, 1987) and Under the 82nd Airborne (Farrar, 1991), adolescent girls are depicted beautifully. Shy, eager-for-love Laurel in "What It Was Like, Seeing Chris," and slow, white-trash Lynnie in "The Custodian" are polished, poignant triumphs of characterization. Eisenberg falters only with outrageous DeeDee in "The Station," perhaps not the best filter for that subtle tale of emotional entanglement. A caveat: don't read in one sitting! Like the best wine or chocolates, these should be savored bite by bite for maximum effect.-Jo Manning, formerly with Reader's Digest Lib.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780374524920
Publisher:
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Publication date:
03/09/1997
Edition description:
First Edition
Pages:
496
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.96(d)

Meet the Author

Deborah Eisenberg is the author of four collections of stories. She is the recipient of a MacArthur Genius Grant, a Whiting Writers' Award, and a Guggenheim Fellowship. She has taught at the University of Virginia since 1994, where she is currently a professor of creative writing.

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