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The Palace of Illusions
     

The Palace of Illusions

by Kim Addonizio
 

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In her new collection, gifted poet and novelist Kim Addonizio uses her literary powers to bring to life a variety of settings, all connected through the suggestion that things in the known world are not what they seem.

In “Beautiful Lady of the Snow,” young Annabelle turns to a host of family pets to combat the alienation she feels caught between her

Overview

In her new collection, gifted poet and novelist Kim Addonizio uses her literary powers to bring to life a variety of settings, all connected through the suggestion that things in the known world are not what they seem.

In “Beautiful Lady of the Snow,” young Annabelle turns to a host of family pets to combat the alienation she feels caught between her distracted mother and ailing grandfather; in “Night Owls,” a young college student’s crush on her acting partner is complicated by the bloodlust of being half-vampire; in “Cancer Poems,” a dying woman turns to a poetry workshop to make sense of her terminal diagnosis and final days; in “Intuition,” a young girl’s sexual forays bring her closer to her best friend’s father; and in the collection’s title story, a photographer looks back to his youth spent as a young illusionist under the big tent and his obsessive affair with the carnival owner’s wife.

The stories in this collection have appeared in journals ranging from Narrative Magazine to The Fairy Tale Review, and include the much loved "Ever After," which was featured on NPR's "Selected Shorts."

Distracted parents, first love, the twin forces of alienation and isolation: the characters in The Palace of Illusions all must contend with these challenges, trafficking in the fault lines between the real and the imaginary, often in a world not of their making.

Editorial Reviews

The New York Times Book Review - Benjamin Nugent
…[a] lovely story collection…[Addonizio's] most frightening when she leaves the meaning of a story wide open.
Publishers Weekly
06/16/2014
“Once there was a hag who was really a princess, who lived in a storage unit that was really a castle.” In Addonizio’s (In the Box Called Pleasure) second collection of short stories, she explores the various ways people interpret the world in order to find peace. In “Beautiful Lady of the Snow,” a little girl punishes and subsequently kills her pets in order to find solace from the stress of living with her depressed mother in a motel. “Night Owls” follows a frustrated teenage vampire who loves a boy but also wants to suck his blood. The title story traces the decline of a young man who trades in his promising future for a love affair with an alcoholic carnie. “Ever After” is a pseudo-fairy tale about dwarves living in an apartment and waiting for a woman to redeem them from their terrible lives with an apple. Though Addonizio’s characters find themselves in unusual predicaments, she nonetheless convincingly renders their psyches. The stories are weighty but unassuming, and readers can identify with the characters whether they’re vampires, carnies, or pet killers. This book is for those who enjoy sardonic humor, forceful narration, and a variety of genres. (Sept.)
From the Publisher

Praise for The Palace of Illusions:
"The short stories here are so tight and polished that it's hard to believe that this is only Addonizio's second collection…strikingly honest depictions of characters…A highly enjoyable collection with something for everyone; recommended for readers of Lydia Davis or fans of modern fairy tales." —Library Journal

"The 14 stories in this new collections range from realist, contemporary narratives to darkly comic fairy tales that subtly complicate the binary oppositions of good versus evil and contentment versus despair.…Addonizio is adept at humanizing monsters or characters that resemble them…The Palace of Illusions is a collection of many delights, its mirrors reflecting and magnifying the contradictions and conflicts inherent in human experience." —San Francisco Chronicle

"A streak of dark humor, colored with a tinge of pathos…" —Oakland Tribune

"Though Addonizio’s characters find themselves in unusual predicaments, she nonetheless convincingly renders their psyches. The stories are weighty but unassuming, and readers can identify with the characters whether they’re vampires, carnies, or pet killers. This book is for those who enjoy sardonic humor, forceful narration, and a variety of genres." —Publishers Weekly

"…[a] lovely short story collection." —New York Times' Shortlist

"Many of the poems in Tell Me can be read as intensified versions of the barroom ballad—songs of good and bad love, songs of the allure and the failure of drink. But regardless of the subject, Kim Addonizio's poems are stark mirrors of self-examination, and she looks into them without blinking.” —Billy Collins on Tell Me, a Finalist for the National Book Award

“The stories in The Palace of Illusions are searingly beautiful, evocative, and surprising. Kim Addonizio is a master who gives the traditional story form a startling twist. From fairy tales colored by sexual longing to a freshly irreverent exploration of death, this is a collection in the best tradition of Robert Coover and Angela Carter.” —Katie Crouch, New York Times bestselling author of Girls in Trucks and Abroad

"Poet Addonizio brings her hip, dark sensibility to a second collection of short fiction." —Kirkus

"Kim Addonizio writes like Lucinda Williams sings, with hard-earned grit and grace about the heart's longing for love and redemption, the kind that can only come in the darkest dark when survival no longer even seems likely." -- Andre Dubus III

"If there's justice in the world, this summer Kim Addonizio is going to step in where Alice Sebold and her Lovely Bones left off...Little Beauties encases a real, thumping heart between the pages. Let the lovefest begin." -- Elle

"A wonderfully optimistic, quirky testament to the power of chance encounters." -- O Magazine

"Like Anne Lamott...Addonizio seems to sense how to pull back from sentimentality, be it with humor, honesty or clarity of vision." -- Los Angeles Times

"I found myself rooting for them -- a real trick to pull off -- rooting for each, especially that new baby..." -- Alan Cheuse, NPR's All Things Considered

"Kim Addoinizio's first novel is one of those rare books that is both a complete departure from a writer's previous work and a natural extension of it. Like her four books of poetry, rawly beautiful examinations of the body and heart's excesses, Little Beauties tackles tough subjects -- unequipped mothers, the loss of love, mental illness -- with unflinching clarity, lyricism and humor." -- San Francisco Chronicle

"Kim Addonizio's imagination is like a runaway train under perfect control. Nuanced, shaded and unshaded, her poems are bold, brave, respectful of the darkness, perfectly pitched, and virtually every one reverberates with a kind of wild tenderness. Lucifer at the Starlite is one of the best reasons to read poetry today." -- Thomas Lux

"Addonizio's poems are like swallows of cold, grassy white wine. They go down easy and then, moments later, you feel the full weight of their impact." –Booklist

"[A] well-paced, readable book; Addonizio has a natural gift for pacing. She also achieves a novelistic detachment rare for poets. She refuses to romanticize her characters but also never loses sympathy with their humanity." —Dana Gioia, Washington Post Book World

“In Kim Addonizio's fanciful and witty novel, I can't decide whose voice I like more: the obsessive compulsive's, the pregnant teenager's, or the newborn's. Each is great—sharp, funny, and above all surprising. One thing they all share is their creator's love of language. These are voices that will continue to resonate long after you've read the last page of the book.” —Jenny McPhee

Kirkus Reviews
2014-06-05
Poet Addonizio brings her hip, dark sensibility to a second collection of short fiction.In the first story, a second-grade girl kills her goldfish and pet bird in reaction to being sexually exploited by her obese grandfather.In the second, two sleazy young women get drunk and rip off the guy in whose hotel room they've spent the night. In the third, a girl takes time during a meditation class to reflect on her dead sister. Abusive relationships, breakups and terminal illness fill out the other 10 stories, but in the most appealing of them, Addonizio (Ordinary Genius: A Guide for the Poet Within, 2009, etc.) doses her basic mix of hopelessness and alienation with cleverness and whimsy. A story about a girl who's half vampire has several laughs, the title story has fun with its circus setting, and two of the others, "The Hag's Journey" and "Ever After," reinvent fairy-tale tropes in ways that would be delightful if they didn't end so badly. In the latter, the Seven Dwarfs are a ragtag bunch of fellows living in a fifth-floor walk-up: a junkie named Dopey, a teen runaway named Sneezy, a recovering alcoholic named Doc, etc., most employed as faux munchkins at a restaurant called Oz. They're awaiting the fulfillment of a prophecy they read about in a book found in a Dumpster, one involving a beautiful girl and an apple. Unsurprisingly, things go south. "[M]y name isn't Grumpy," said Grumpy. "It's Carlos....I'm sick of all of you with your fake names and voodoo loser fantasies about some chick who ain't coming. She ain't coming, man. Get it through your fat heads."The worldview of this book is so bleak it might need a warning label.
Library Journal
10/01/2014
The short stories here are so tight and polished that it's hard to believe that this is only Addonizio's second collection; she is mainly known as a poet (Tell Me was a National Book Award finalist). The characters, from the woman with terminal cancer who takes a poetry workshop to the second grader who hates dancing on her grandpa's lap to the college student who happens to be half vampire, all exhibit "true grit." The stories are all strikingly honest depictions of characters trying their best at something, even if that something is not particularly good for them. The latter is true in the case of the title story, in which a man looks back on his youth working as a magician in a traveling carnival and lusting after the carnival owner's wife. There are also shorter pieces that give us more of a keyhole glimpse into a situation or character, such as "The Other Woman," "Blown," and new takes on classic fairy tales, such as "The Hag's Journey." VERDICT A highly enjoyable collection with something for everyone; recommended for readers of Lydia Davis or fans of modern fairy tales.—Kate Gray, Worcester P.L., MA

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781593765422
Publisher:
Soft Skull Press, Inc.
Publication date:
09/09/2014
Pages:
225
Product dimensions:
6.10(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.00(d)

Meet the Author

Kim Addonizio is the author of a previous story collection, In the Box Called Pleasure; two novels Little Beauties and My Dreams Out in the Street; five poetry collections; and two books on writing poetry. She recently collaborated with woodcut artist Charles D. Jones on My Black Angel: Blues Poems and Portraits. She has received numerous honors for her writing, including a Guggenheim Fellowship and two NEA Fellowships, and was a National Book Award Finalist in 2000. She lives in Oakland, CA and New York City and teaches private writing workshops in person and online. She plays harmonica with the word/music group Nonstop Beautiful Ladies and volunteers for The Hunger Project, a global organization empowering the poorest people in the world to end their own hunger and poverty. Visit her at kimaddonizio.com.

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