Palace Thief

Palace Thief

3.1 6
by Ethan Canin
     
 

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“Extraordinary for its craft and emotional effect . . . [Ethan Canin is] a writer of enormous talent and charm.”
The Washington Post

“Character is destiny,” wrote Heraclitus–and in this collection of four unforgettable stories, we meet people struggling to understand themselves and the unexpected turns their lives

Overview

“Extraordinary for its craft and emotional effect . . . [Ethan Canin is] a writer of enormous talent and charm.”
The Washington Post

“Character is destiny,” wrote Heraclitus–and in this collection of four unforgettable stories, we meet people struggling to understand themselves and the unexpected turns their lives have taken. In “Accountant,” a quintessential company man becomes obsessed with the phenomenal success of a reckless childhood friend. “Batorsag and Szerelem” tells the story of a boy’s fascination with the mysterious life and invented language of his brother, a math prodigy. In “City of Broken Hearts,” a divorced father tries to fathom the patterns of modern relationships. And in “The Palace Thief,” a history teacher at an exclusive boarding school reflects on the vicissitudes of a lifetime connection with a student scoundrel. A remarkable achievement by one of America’s finest writers, this brilliant volume reveals the moments of insight that illuminate everyday lives.

“Captivating . . . a heartening tribute to the form . . . an exquisite performance.”
The Boston Sunday Globe

“A model of wit, wisdom, and empathy. Chekhov would have appreciated its frank renderings and quirky ironies.”
Chicago Tribune

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Canin, whose short-story collection Emperor of the Air was justly feted, as his novel Blue River was not, here offers four brilliant longer stories, each seamlessly structured and with prose and characters to linger over. The book's ostensible theme is Heraclitus's observation that character is fate, which is all well and good until we try to understand the meaning of either term. Take Mr. Hundert, the honorable boys' school teacher who in the title story tries to make sense of a student's rise from a cheating dullard to an industrial and political leader. As for the question of character, hardly does a protagonist gain a slippery hold on the essence of another person's character, when a forced self-evaluation occurs: in ``City of Broken Hearts'' a recently divorced man considers his son as alien but in fact, the youth is the one person who sees through--and redeems--his father's bluff boorish exterior. Canin keeps readers so thoroughly engaged that the anticipation of resolution is almost like dread, as in the beautiful and wrenching ``Batorsag and Szerelem,'' in which the narrator recalls the gradual revelation of his family's painful secrets and a quiet secret of his own, the most painful and insidious of all. BOMC and QPB selection; author tour. (Feb.)
Library Journal
Four stories from Harvard Medical School graduate Canin, author of the fine collection Emperor of the Air ( LJ 2/1/88).
Donna Seaman
If one were to diagram Canin's fictional form, it would have to be of classical proportions: clean, noble, and golden. His latest book presents us with four beautifully told long short stories. In each, a man muses over his past and realizes how little control he has had over pivotal moments in his life. "Accountant" is a gripping variation on the turtle and the hare fable. The turtle, and narrator, is Abba Roth, a serious student turned dutiful accountant. The hare is Eugene Peters, Roth's academically disinclined boyhood friend who was able to parlay his enthusiasm for auto mechanics into a hugely lucrative business. Now solidly middle-aged, they have a showdown of sorts at a fantasy baseball camp overseen by none other than the great Willie Mays. As Roth surprises everyone with his able performance on the field and incredible awkwardness everywhere else, he finally gives into his deeply buried "impulse for uproar and disorder." The title story also tells the tale of a methodical, even fussy man brought up short by the bold, unscrupulous acts of richer and more powerful figures. In each story, Canin proves himself adept at articulating moments of profound embarrassment followed by flashes of self-knowledge that are either invigorating or demoralizing. Moving and memorable.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781588368539
Publisher:
Random House Publishing Group
Publication date:
03/06/2013
Sold by:
Random House
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
224
Sales rank:
409,931
File size:
2 MB

Meet the Author

Ethan Canin is the author of Emperor of the Air, For Kings and Planets,and Carry Me Across the Water, among other books. A former physician, he is now on the faculty of the Iowa Writers' Workshop.

Brief Biography

Hometown:
Iowa City, IA
Date of Birth:
July 19, 1960
Place of Birth:
Ann Arbor, MI
Education:
A.B., Stanford, 1982; M.F.A., University of Iowa, 1984; M.D., Harvard Medical School, 1991
Website:
http://www.ethancanin.com/

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The Palace Thief 3.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was an excellent read! I typically don't like collections of short stories, however, I picked this up after reading America America by the same author, and I was very pleasantly surprised. The stories are thought-provoking, intense, deep emotions, and some surprising endings as well! It was a very good book and a quick read. I highly recommend this book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I read this book in a couple days and enjoyed all four stories. This was a book recommended for a discussion group. Glad I was introduced to this author.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I suggest that Mr Varney reads a little more if this is the 'most engrossing piece of prose' that he has ever read. This book despite its pretensions is horrifically derivative; Canin's style flaunts its supposed cleverness but has little in the way of real emotion or feeling. Its view of the education system is stunted at best and treads a line that has been depicted in so many mediocre works of this kind.