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What He's Poised to Do: Stories
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What He's Poised to Do: Stories

3.8 5
by Ben Greenman
 

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“Ben Greenman seems incapable of writing anything dry or familiar or expected. He is one of the most versatile, consistently surprising writers at work today.” —Dave Eggers

A diverse and moving collection of witty, fabular, haunting stories about love, infidelity, and the vanishing art of letter writing—from the acclaimed novelist and

Overview

“Ben Greenman seems incapable of writing anything dry or familiar or expected. He is one of the most versatile, consistently surprising writers at work today.” —Dave Eggers

A diverse and moving collection of witty, fabular, haunting stories about love, infidelity, and the vanishing art of letter writing—from the acclaimed novelist and New Yorker editor Ben Greenman. Fans of the works of Keith Gessen, Ben Kunkel, Nathaniel Rich, and John Wray will find much to love in the beautiful, poignant stories of What He’s Poised to Do.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Fourteen very self-conscious stories from Greenman (Please Step Back) demonstrate the author's easy hand with formal manipulation, though his command over emotional terrain proves to be circumspect. The collection is bracketed by two very short stories (the title story and “Her Hand”) built around picture postcards (indeed, postmarks appear at the beginning of each story), and the varied stories between them all move with transparency; Greenman's prose is polished to a fine gloss that handily guides the reader along. While some stories only get a few details—two stories with cloyingly cute and very long titles are among the shortest; their titles virtual punch lines—others spin on, dominated less by substance than by stylistic demands, as with “Seventeen Different Ways to Get a Load of That,” which documents a relationship breakdown in short numbered cuts. The strongest story, “What We Believe We Cannot Praise,” about changing dynamics at a law firm, hints at Greenman's talent and begs for a longer treatment than it gets in this chilly if playful collection. (June)
New York Times Book Review
“Greenman offers quiet, serious stories lifted by occasional humor and linked by instances of written correspondence. ”
Jonathan Ames
“What a fine and unique writer Ben Greenman is. I love his sentences, his precision. I feel like he’s absorbed and digested so much great literature, distilling it all to create his own fantastic universe of stories and ideas.”
Daniel Handler
“This book is like a strobe light—in short, sharp bursts, Ben Greenman renders the world we know into something startling, hypnotizing, and downright trippy.”
Amy Sohn
“Romantic and compulsively readable, What He’s Poised to Do will appeal to anyone who’s ever been in love, had a broken heart, or been misunderstood.”
Jess Walter
“Ben Greenman’s What He’s Poised to Do is a terrific collection—a set of elegant, inventive dispatches that knock around space and time, and the wrenching gaps between people, to chart a world of previously unnamed moments and emotions.”
Rhett Miller
“Ben Greenman’s prose is characterized by an effortless musicality. This collection finds him in peak form, simultaneously heartbreaking and hilarious. But it’s the beauty of his language that gets me.”
Simon Van Booy
“Ben Greenman’s masterwork of stories inspired by letters offers fresh insight into the mysteries of intimacy. A seriously brilliant and lyrical piece of modern fiction, with characters so alive and sincere and full of longing, they may climb out of the book and follow you home.”
Kirkus Reviews
More stories from the New Yorker editor and indie-lit notable. The title story follows a business traveler in the process of abandoning his wife and child, and it's written in a distinctly alienating-almost mechanical-tone. This work first appeared in a project of Greenman's called "Correspondences," which encompassed both a limited-edition book and a forum for reader participation. Whether or not that project was a success is outside the scope of this review, but, in the context of this collection, the story is a dud. A McSweeney's alum, Greenman is known for his willingness to experiment with form and style, and this is not the first time he has repurposed his own material (2003's Superworse was a revised version of 2001's Superbad). But too many of the stories here feel like exercises. "Barn," for example, seems to exist so that Greenman can mimic the voice of a Nebraska farmwife in 1962, and it has an ending, seemingly fraught with meaning and pathos, that's inconsequential. Some of the pieces merit the exuberant praise he has enjoyed in the past. "Against Samantha," the tale of a young man who might leave his fiancee if he wasn't so enamored of her mother, is a deep delight. It's set in 1928, and Greenman achieves an authentically upper-crust, vintage tone, and the anxiety his protagonist experiences provides a bracing dose of weirdness that keeps the proceedings from becoming precious. An uneven collection, unlikely to create a new audience for Greenman. Author tour to Boston, Minneapolis, New York, San Francisco, Washington, D.C., and upon request

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780061987403
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
06/15/2010
Series:
P.S. Series
Pages:
170
Product dimensions:
5.30(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.60(d)

What People are Saying About This

Jess Walter
“Ben Greenman’s What He’s Poised to Do is a terrific collection—a set of elegant, inventive dispatches that knock around space and time, and the wrenching gaps between people, to chart a world of previously unnamed moments and emotions.”
Amy Sohn
“Romantic and compulsively readable, What He’s Poised to Do will appeal to anyone who’s ever been in love, had a broken heart, or been misunderstood.”
Rhett Miller
“Ben Greenman’s prose is characterized by an effortless musicality. This collection finds him in peak form, simultaneously heartbreaking and hilarious. But it’s the beauty of his language that gets me.”
Jonathan Ames
“What a fine and unique writer Ben Greenman is. I love his sentences, his precision. I feel like he’s absorbed and digested so much great literature, distilling it all to create his own fantastic universe of stories and ideas.”
Simon Van Booy
“Ben Greenman’s masterwork of stories inspired by letters offers fresh insight into the mysteries of intimacy. A seriously brilliant and lyrical piece of modern fiction, with characters so alive and sincere and full of longing, they may climb out of the book and follow you home.”
Daniel Handler
“This book is like a strobe light—in short, sharp bursts, Ben Greenman renders the world we know into something startling, hypnotizing, and downright trippy.”

Meet the Author

Ben Greenman is an editor at The New Yorker. He is the author of the story collections What He's Poised to Do; Superbad; and A Circle Is a Balloon and Compass Both: Stories About Human Love, and the novels Superworse and Please Step Back. He lives in Brooklyn with his wife and two children.

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What He's Poised to Do 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
dbc-254 More than 1 year ago
Great for short train/bus rides. Nothing too graphic in case someone's reading over your shoulder.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Waste of 99 cents
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Cries.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago