Stories from the Tube

Stories from the Tube

5.0 1
by Matthew Sharpe
     
 

In Stories from the Tube, Matthew Sharpe spins ten unique and unforgettable tales inspired by the most mundane, ubiquitous texts in our culture: television commercials. With echoes of writers as diverse as Donald Barthelme, Jorge Luis Borges, and David Foster Wallace, these stories create a world in which the utterly normal and the utterly surreal collide, shatter… See more details below

Overview

In Stories from the Tube, Matthew Sharpe spins ten unique and unforgettable tales inspired by the most mundane, ubiquitous texts in our culture: television commercials. With echoes of writers as diverse as Donald Barthelme, Jorge Luis Borges, and David Foster Wallace, these stories create a world in which the utterly normal and the utterly surreal collide, shatter, and reassemble themselves, where the totally insane and hilarious and the deeply moving occupy the same space. In the process, they speak volumes about how television reflects and distorts our imaginations and emotional lives, and how it both creates and destroys the mythology of the American family.
        In "Doctor Mom," a suburban mother practices medicine illegally out of her home after being stripped of her medical license. In "How I Greet My Daughter," an agoraphobic, misanthropic woman wakes to the smell of brewing coffee and realizes her grown daughter has moved in. In "Cloud," a young publishing executive traveling by airplane meets a mysterious lover whose touch is as cold and vapor-ous as a cloud. In "The Woman Who," a New York woman finds the needy and desperate beating a path to her door after she briefly and inexplicably turned into Marilyn Mon-roe during a matinee of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.
        By turns haunting, savagely funny, and unexpectedly touching, Stories from the Tube is the striking debut of a writer of uncommon talent and vision.

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Editorial Reviews

Lev Grossman
Sharpe is a witty, unpretentious and occasionally moving writer in the tradition of Barth and Barthelme. It's a pleasure to watch him take those clichéd little vignettes we've all seen a million times and pound them on their backs until they spit out the hairball of lust and danger and capitalist ideology they've been hiding all these years. -- Time Out New York
Clarissa Cruz
A jumbled, occasionally hilarious, and downright surreal collection of yarns. . . —Entertainment Weekly
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
While others visit the refrigerator during television commercials, Sharpe apparently scribbles down story ideas. Sharpe's earnest but disappointing debut collection, based on well-known TV ads, never quite transcends its premise. The strongest of the 10 stories is "Tide," a mother-daughter tale that owes its origin to a spot for laundry detergent. A single mother labors to rear her willful daughter (who, in the manner of TV children, speaks at a level far beyond her years); Mom struggles convincingly to explain menstruation and discourage reckless bicycle riding. After that promising start, however, the stories are populated by a series of hard-to-like characters, placed in situations that read as an uneasy mix of surrealism and satire. In "Doctor Mom," derived from a cough syrup commercial, a mother begins operating haphazardly on her 10-year-old son (for reasons Sharpe doesn't explain, she's lost her medical license). In "Rose in the House," an elderly parent's arrival in the home (another standard TV setup) causes resentment in her family. An original, insightful commercial is a rare find; perhaps equally difficult is a fully formed, thoughtful story based on one. TV addicts will enjoy recognizing their beloved advertisements, but that's the main source of fun in this collection. Author tour. (Nov.)
Kirkus Reviews
Debut collection that aims straight at the MTV-generation in its appropriation of television adspeak as a narrative principle. The 10 stories here are mostly coming-of-age tales dealing with the difficulties of family relations and personal identity, concentrating especially on misunderstandings between parents and children. "Tide" describes a mother's discomfort at her daughter's apparent maturity, a fear symbolized by the mother's concern over the girl's first menstruation. "Rose in the House" evokes the domestic havoc wrought by a dying woman's decision to move in with her son's family, recounting the bond the woman forms with her adolescent grandson (who is as uneasy around his own parents as they are around his grandmother). "Bridesmaids" depicts a 25-year-old bridesmaid's impending sense of fear over the pace and course of her own life, while "Doctor Mom" introduces us to a young physician who practices medicine from her own home. Some more or less surreal entries crop up—-such as "The Woman Who" (a woman turns into Marilyn Monroe during a film screening) and "A Bird Accident" (the murder of Charlie Parker by a deranged automobile). All the stories open with prologues taken from TV commercials (the detergent commercial for "Tide," for example) intended apparently to set the tone of the action and reflect on its significance. Unremarkable Mommy-and-me pieces, tarted up with postmodern pretensions. Too clever by half.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780375501968
Publisher:
Random House Publishing Group
Publication date:
10/20/1998
Edition description:
1 ED
Pages:
224
Product dimensions:
5.78(w) x 8.57(h) x 0.91(d)

What People are saying about this

Martha McPhee
Through his fictions Sharpe exposes, yet also redeems, all that has been commodified, packaged, and trivialized about ourselves by advertising. Clever and filled with wit, these stories step outside realism and into a realm that is entirely of Sharpe's own ingenious making, yet speaks to us all.
Francis Ford Coppola
I like Matthew Sharpe's concept in Stories from the Tube. I think looking behind the selling of products to the larger personal issues can say a lot about our society.
Pinckney Benedict
After 50 years of almost non-stop stupidity, the television has finally coughed up something truly woirth savoring: the high intelligence manifest in these Stories from the Tube does much to redeem the awfulness of the medium that inspired it, and almost makes me glad -- almost -- that the. . .idiot box was ever invented.

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