The Tiger in the Grass: Stories and Other Inventions

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Overview

Harriet Doerr's first novel, Stones for Ibarra, was published by Viking in 1984 when she was seventy-three years old. That novel of Mexico was universally acclaimed by the critics and won the 1985 American Book Award for First Fiction. Doerr's second novel, Consider This Senora, came out in 1993 and also received glorious reviews. Her first collection of stories and anecdotal pieces, The Tiger in the Grass, reveals the same startling sensitivity and sculpted prose that made Stones for Ibarra a runaway bestseller....
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Overview

Harriet Doerr's first novel, Stones for Ibarra, was published by Viking in 1984 when she was seventy-three years old. That novel of Mexico was universally acclaimed by the critics and won the 1985 American Book Award for First Fiction. Doerr's second novel, Consider This Senora, came out in 1993 and also received glorious reviews. Her first collection of stories and anecdotal pieces, The Tiger in the Grass, reveals the same startling sensitivity and sculpted prose that made Stones for Ibarra a runaway bestseller. In these fifteen works, Doerr explores the magical power of memory as it harvests experience, bringing us a wealth of unforgettable characters.

This first collection of never-before-published stories and "inventions" by the award-winning author of Stones for Ibarra are as bright and clear as a Mexican sunrise, confirming Doerr's richly deserved reputation as a writer of the first order, one whose sheer grace and rigorous economy touch the reader at every turn.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Because she started writing late in life, octogenarian Doerr has only two works to her credit: the novels Stones for Ibarra and Consider This, Senora. This collection of short fiction and vignettes offers more of her crystalline, elegiac prose, with the added advantage to those interested in her life that two pieces are short memoirs and most of the others have at least traces of autobiographical inspiration. The title piece is undiluted memoir, in which Doerr explores the power of memory to synthesize a lifetime's experience and acknowledges an influence she learned about in her declining years, ``the tiger in the grass... [is] my fierce old companion, half threat, half friend.'' Resonant, touching, and vividly real, this piece is a model of its kind. Three of the six stories in a section named ``Mexico'' concern Sara and Richard Everton, the protagonists of Stones for Ibarra, and all the stories in this section reflect Doerr's years in that country. The awareness of mortality hovers over these tales, but there is also the recognition of haunting moments of perfect happiness, most of them understood as characters look backward and distill the essence of the event. Each piece here contains wise insights, couched in stunning metaphors and sensory imagery that lifts individual sentences off the page. Of a woman overheard weeping: ``It seemed chronic rather than acute, a way of life rather than a trauma.'' The final story, ``Evie: A Life,'' has been anthologized often, but it is affecting no matter how many times one has read it. In fact, one reads all these pieces slowly, savoring the glow of Doerr's prose. In the section titled ``Memory,'' Doerr describes the sheets of summer rain that fall in isolated, selective torrents in Mexico. ``My memory, like those storms... has begun to rain on me in sleeves,'' she says. Readers will hope that more of these beautiful pieces will come from Doerr's pen. 50,000 first printing. (Nov.)
Library Journal
As she recounts in the moving opening piece of this collection, Doerr published her first novel at the age of 74. Now 85, she looks back on the intervening years of marriage, children, and her years spent living in Mexico as an exercise in memory for her grown children. This and the final reminiscence frame the incandescent stories at the center, many of which are set in Mexico. Fans of Stones for Ibarra (1984) will be happily reunited with Richard and Sara Everton and their colorful neighbors and villagers. The closing piece, "Edie: A Life," tells of the woman who came to work as a housekeeper for the author's family after her mother's death, lived with them until the children were grown, and remained a fixture in their lives until her own death. Written with great tenderness and understanding, these stories and "inventions" are perfectly evocative of a long life well lived. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 6/1/95.]-Barbara Love, Kingston P.L., Ontario
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780140251487
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 10/28/1996
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 224
  • Sales rank: 974,053
  • Product dimensions: 5.14 (w) x 7.81 (h) x 0.64 (d)

Table of Contents

I The Tiger in the Grass 1
II First Work 31
1 The Flowering Stick 33
2 Carnations 37
3 The Extinguishing of Great-Aunt Alice 45
III Mexico 55
1 The Seasons 57
2 Sun, Pure Air, and a View 61
3 The Local Train 83
4 Way Stations 91
5 The Watchman at the Gate 115
6 Saint's Day 129
IV Memory 143
1 Please 145
2 Low Tide at Four 147
3 Like Heaven 151
4 A Sleeve of Rain 169
V Edie: A Life 185
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