Where The Long Grass Bends: Stories

( 2 )

Overview

"Fierce and bold, these beautiful stories provide a highly kinetic exploration of sameness and difference in terms of ethnic and racial origin. Through a romp of language—vital, outrageous, unpredictable—the fireworks of Neela Vaswani’s original genius cast shadows and illumine psyches that conventional monovisions never perceive. The stories of Where the Long Grass Bends are for readers willing to view the shape-shifting of both reality and literary form. Vaswani’s characters embrace their fates through such ...

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Where The Long Grass Bends: Stories

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Overview

"Fierce and bold, these beautiful stories provide a highly kinetic exploration of sameness and difference in terms of ethnic and racial origin. Through a romp of language—vital, outrageous, unpredictable—the fireworks of Neela Vaswani’s original genius cast shadows and illumine psyches that conventional monovisions never perceive. The stories of Where the Long Grass Bends are for readers willing to view the shape-shifting of both reality and literary form. Vaswani’s characters embrace their fates through such rigorous birthing that what has been internal finally contains and defines them."—Sena Jeter Naslund

"If it is true, as one of Vaswani’s characters claims, that a musical movement is the equivalent of a sentence, then the stories in Where the Long Grass Bends comprise an uncanny and beautiful symphony. This is a luminous collection, where each fiction evolves its own mythology. I want to live in the world of these stories just as I am afraid of this beautiful and often dark world. Neela Vaswani’s Where the Long Grass Bends is lovely, strange, lyrical, full of true mystery."—Victoria Redel

Where the Long Grass Bends is a delight of invention and language. In whirling, catch-me-if-you-can prose, Vaswani tells stories that subvert conventional narrative by employing Indian lore, Gaelic fable, and historical legend. Spare, fierce, and unpredictable, this debut collection is boundless, even boundary-less, because Vaswani has, as David Garnett said of Virginia Woolf, a mind that sticks to nothing.

Neela Vaswani lives in New York. Her short stories have appeared in numerous journals, including Prairie Schooner, American Literary Review, and Global City Review. In 1999, she was awarded the Italo Calvino Prize. She is a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Maryland, and teaches in the Master of Fine Arts in Writing program at Spalding University.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Vaswani shows impressive range and a striking command of poetic imagery in this debut collection, which features 13 stories dealing mostly with the Indian and Asian immigrant experience. "Sita and Mrs. Durber" describes a British art teacher's struggles to deal with a formidably talented Malaysian kindergartener, whose brilliant drawings reveal uncomfortable truths. "Five Objects in Queens," in which an Indian family uses familiar references from their homeland to help them acclimate to life in New York, falls closer to the terrain carved out by writers like Bharati Mukerjee. On the experimental side, "An Outline of No Direction" is a fascinating, unconventional travelogue in list form that skewers and plays up American stereotypes ("In the South, I ride a roller coaster over Dolly Parton's bosom"). Vaswani's conceits are occasionally murky and vague "Domestication of an Imaginary Goat," for example, labors with its analogy of a goat as a symbol of a couple's relationship, while "Procession at the Tomb of Sayyed Pir Hazrat Baba Bahadur Saheed Rah Aleh" overreaches in describing the role of spirits in a series of brief episodes. Several other stories are noticeably overwritten, as Vaswani falls victim to the tendency to go for the literary home run and descends into florid, overblown avant-garde clich s. But her talent shines through despite the inconsistencies and missteps, and her distinctive voice augurs well for future efforts. Author appearances in New York and Los Angeles. (Jan.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
This collection of 13 short stories-half of which have been previously published in various literary journals-often features characters of Indian origin who may be a reflection of Vaswani's own blended Indian and Irish heritage. A teacher in the graduate writing program at Spalding University, she excels in the title piece, which concerns a young woman of Indian and British origin in search of her identity; in "Procession at the Tomb of Sayyed Pir Hazrat Baba Bahadur Saheed Rah Aleh," which takes a fascinating look at individuals possessed by spirits; and in "Sita and Mrs. Durber," which focuses on the relationship between a kindergarten teacher and her young student, a gifted artist. However, Vaswani's writing is as diverse as she is, with pieces such as "Bing-Chen" depicting a man of Chinese and German American origin and "Blue, Without Sorrow," devoted to characters with Mexican origins. Since much of Vaswani's writing is experimental and as short fiction mostly open ended, this collection is likely to be appreciated by more literate rather than general readers. Recommended for academic libraries and those public libraries with specialized collections in literature, as well as those developing collections with works by authors of Indian origin.-Shirley N. Quan, Orange Cty. P.L., Santa Ana, CA Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Thirteen stories by Indian-American Vaswani. The experiences of immigrants (or of their children) who have come to America but not quite found their feet here provides much of Vaswani's material in stories that play with the notions of culture and homeland from a variety of perspectives. The protagonist of "Bing-Chen," for example, is a half-Chinese, half-American adolescent who ventures into Chinatown for a haircut and reflects on his own inability to feel truly at home in either white or Asian society. In "Domestication of an Imaginary Goat," a young Indian woman in New York fantasizes with her American boyfriend about the home that she knows they will never have. Some of the tales are set abroad: The title story, for instance, is about the travails of a young orphaned girl living in a Catholic boarding school in India during an election riot, while "Sita and Mrs. Durber" follows a schoolteacher in India who tries to help a precocious but withdrawn girl. "Bolero" is the story of a boy who grows up on a farm during the Spanish Civil War and manages with some difficulty to emigrate to America, where he studies at Juilliard and goes on to become an orchestra conductor, while "Blue, Without Sorrow" offers a short family history from the perspective of a melancholy Mexican woman who recovered from a mortal illness as a girl and later moves to Arizona (after her father dies). There are also simpler stories that stand stylistically apart from the rest, like "The Rigors of Dance Lessons," about a husband and wife who (in what becomes an apparent metaphor of their marriage) sign up for dance lessons. A strange and not altogether satisfying mix: newcomer Vaswani takes up certain themes, but herwork seems not to have found an overriding focus or coherence.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781889330969
  • Publisher: Sarabande Books
  • Publication date: 1/1/2004
  • Pages: 192
  • Product dimensions: 5.20 (w) x 7.70 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Vaswani is author of Where the Long Grass Bends (Sarabande, 2004). Recipient of a 2006 O. Henry Prize, she holds a Ph.D. in American Cultural Studies from the University of Maryland. She lives in New York and teaches at Spalding University's brief-residency MFA Program. An education activist in India and the US, Vaswani is founder of the Storylines Project.

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Table of Contents

Where the Long Grass Bends 1
Possession at the Tomb of Sayyed Pir Hazrat Baba Bahadur Saheed Rah Aleh 19
Twang (Release) 41
The Excrement Man 69
Sita and Ms. Durber 107
Five Objects in Queens 125
Bing-Chen 149
Domestication of an Imaginary Goat 163
The Rigors of Dance Lessons 179
Bolero 189
The Pelvis Series 217
An Outline of No Direction 237
Blue, Without Sorrow 257
Acknowledgments 273
The Author 275
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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 8, 2013

    I clam this my tirtory

    Im branch fall

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    Posted May 4, 2013

    Elders den

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