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The Tiger in the Grass: Stories and Other Inventions
     

The Tiger in the Grass: Stories and Other Inventions

4.0 1
by Harriet Doerr
 

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The winner of the National Book Award for the Stones for Ibarra, Harriet Doerr has gathered her first collection of short stories and vignettes. Her "inventions," as she calls them, spring from memory transformed with the elixir of experience.

These 15 short works boast an economic prose laced with a generosity of spirit. Stunning metaphors, sensuous imagery and

Overview

The winner of the National Book Award for the Stones for Ibarra, Harriet Doerr has gathered her first collection of short stories and vignettes. Her "inventions," as she calls them, spring from memory transformed with the elixir of experience.

These 15 short works boast an economic prose laced with a generosity of spirit. Stunning metaphors, sensuous imagery and unforgettable characters cross the human landscape. Her words speak haunting moments of perfect happiness, the harsh reality of poverty, and the graceful beauty of an enfeebled, elderly aunt . . . words to be savored.

"Readers will hope that more of these beautiful pieces will come from Doerr's pen." (Publishers Weekly)

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
Donna Seaman
Perhaps memory has been the leitmotiv of Doerr's lovely novels, "Stones for Ibarra" (1984) and "Consider This, Senora" (1993), because she began writing late in life. Here, in this elegant collection of stories and "inventions," never before published in book form, Doerr opens the window on her own past: childhood in California, marriage before completing college to the man she would live with for more than 40 years, child-rearing experiences, and the bold decision to return to school after the death of her husband. These are revelatory tales full of tenderness, humor, and gratitude, but the jewels of the collection are Doerr's stories about life in Mexico, the place dearest to her heart. She conjures the light, smells, and sounds of Mexico with enrapturing clarity and creates characters both amusing and tragic. Again, we can't help but think that the precision and essentiality of Doerr's style are the felicitous result of her having kept her stories to herself for so long: they've been polished in the bright surf of her mind.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780670864713
Publisher:
Viking Adult
Publication date:
02/29/2000
Pages:
224
Product dimensions:
5.97(w) x 7.82(h) x 0.85(d)

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The Tiger in the Grass: Stories and Other Inventions 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago