Where You'll Find Me and Other Stories

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Ann Beattie is a writer of enormous compassion and honesty. Beattie
expertly draws contemporary domestic life and evokes the pain and
confusion of modern relationships. Her characters are wonderfully
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Overview

Ann Beattie is a writer of enormous compassion and honesty. Beattie
expertly draws contemporary domestic life and evokes the pain and
confusion of modern relationships. Her characters are wonderfully
authentic, her detailing of everyday life photographically true.


Beattie's stories offer starkly honest, often bittersweet glimpses of
life -- women nursing broken hearts, men looking for love, married
couples struggling to stay married, having affairs, leaving or wanting
to leave. Disillusionment abounds. Love is often frustrated, unrequited,
or absent. But Beattie moves gently among her characters, gracefully
revealing their failings, their troubles, and ultimately their ability to
endure. Her unsentimental voice propels these remarkable stories
forward, and her keen insight affords us a rare glimpse into the
human heart.

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What People Are Saying

Jay McInerney
"Lyrical and compact, heartbreaking and wise, this is the music of our spheres, etched on microchips."
John Calvin Batchelor
"Anne Beattie's eye is shocked while her voice is fatalistic...One reads these tales like a fast-paced mystery that has neither corpse, nor weapon, nor murderer, and yet one is sure there has been some sort of horrible crime -- which makes Ms. Beattie a very convincing Hercule Poirot."
Susan Shreve
"Anne Beattie's new book of stories -- 'Where You'll Find Me' -- is beyond the fine craft and sharp rendering of moments that have marked her fiction. These poetic stories search for real characters and their confusing ambiguities; they're finished and moving views of a world that strikes one immediately as authentic."
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780743226783
  • Publisher: Scribner
  • Publication date: 1/1/1902
  • Edition description: REPRINT
  • Pages: 208
  • Product dimensions: 5.22 (w) x 8.08 (h) x 0.43 (d)

Meet the Author

Ann  Beattie

Ann Beattie has been included in four O. Henry Award Collections and in John Updike’s The Best American Short Stories of the Century. In 2000, she received the PEN/Malamud Award for achievement in the short story form. In 2005, she received the Rea Award for the Short Story. She and her husband, Lincoln Perry, live in Key West, Florida, and Charlottesville, Virginia, where she is Edgar Allan Poe Professor of Literature and Creative Writing at the University of Virginia.

Biography

After publishing several stories in The New Yorker, Ann Beattie burst on the literary scene in 1976 with not one, but two books -- a collection of short fiction entitled Distortions and a critically acclaimed debut novel, Chilly Scenes of Winter. Almost immediately, she was proclaimed the unofficial diarist of an entire generation, evoking the lives of feckless, young, middle-class baby boomers who came of age in the 1960s yet never really grew up, choosing instead to lug around their dashed expectations like so much excess baggage.

Indeed, Beattie's fiction is filled with such unhappy characters -- intelligent, well-educated people whose lives are steeped in disappointment and a vague sense of despair. Failed relationships, nostalgia for the past, and the inability to reconcile youthful idealism with the demands of adult life are recurring themes in short story collections like Secrets and Surprises (1978), What Was Mine (1991), and Park City (1998), as well as novels such as Falling in Place (1981), Love Always (1985), and Another You (1995).

Yet, Beattie vehemently denies that she set out to chronicle an era or to describe a particular demographic. ''I do not wish to be a spokesperson for my generation,'' she told The New York Times in 1985. She explained further (in the literary magazine Ploughshares) that she simply wrote about the people who surrounded her -- refugees from the '60s, bewildered by the real world and longing to return to the seductive counterculture of sex, drugs, and rock 'n' roll.

A writer of spare, elegant, whip-smart prose, Beattie has been classified as a minimalist, a label she rejects as reductive. In many ways, though, her writing fits the bill. Her stories, like those of minimalism's famous poster boy (and Beattie's good friend) Raymond Carver, are composed of simple, declarative sentences teeming with irony and finely observed detail; also like Carver, she is a nonjudgmental narrator, completely detached from her characters and their actions and meting out contextual clues to be interpreted by the reader. However, as she has matured as a writer, she has traded in strict minimalism for a more realistic style, endowing her characters with emotions (and something of an inner life!) and rendering her fiction more fully "human."

Occasionally, Beattie has come under attack for loading her stories with brand names and pop culture references. But even this use of "Kmart realism" seems not to have dimmed her light. Reviewing her 2008 anthology Follies for The New York Times, David Means had this to say: "[W]hen Beattie's work is clicking her stories are wonderful to behold. Her best work ... will endure long after so much of what we know now -- the brand names, television shows and quick-shop stores -- is gone."

Good To Know

Beattie's first novel, Chilly Scenes of Winter, was adapted into a film by Joan Micklin Silver starring John Heard and Mary Beth Hurt. It was first released in 1979 as Head Over Heels with an unsatisfying, tacked-on happy ending. Audiences were lukewarm. In 1982, the movie was re-released under the novel's title and with an ending that matched the book. This version was a success.

Beattie is married to the painter Lincoln Perry. In 2005 the two collaborated on a retrospective of Perry's paintings entitled Lincoln Perry's Charlottesville, boasting a long essay and interview by Beattie.

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    1. Hometown:
      Maine and Key West, Florida
    1. Date of Birth:
      September 8, 1947
    2. Place of Birth:
      Washington, D.C.
    1. Education:
      B.A., American University, 1969; M.A., University of Connecticut, 1970

Reading Group Guide

1. What themes, characters, and/or stylistic devices do Ann Beattie's stories share? What threads link these stories? What is it that gives this collection of short stories a sense of wholeness?

2. What is the significance of the title "Where You'll Find Me", both in the short story of that name and in the collection as a whole?

3. In Esquire magazine, Richard Ford writes of Beattie: "She pins my generation to its real-life backing like a frivolous, unornate butterfly, yet charitably lets us believe we might be smart enough to escape." What might Mr. Ford mean by this? Do Beattie's stories support his view? If so, how?

4. Describe Beattie's literary voice. Is it tragic? Comic? Intimate or detached? Does it remind you of other literary voices? If so, whose? Describe and discuss Beattie's use of everyday detail and its importance to her writing.

5. Is there such a thing as an archetypal Beattie character? If so, describe one. What do Beattie's characters suffer from the most? What do her characters want? Do they ever get what they want? Does Beattie offer us any insight into her characters' troubles? Does she have hope for them?

6. The stories "Taking Hold," "Summer People," and "Heaven on a Summer Night," are, in part, stories about young adults and children dealing with adults. How do the young people in Beattie's stories regard their parents and/or older adults, and vice versa? Within the context of her stories, what do these characters offer one another? What other similarities do these stories have? How are they inherently different?

7. In the story "The Big Outside World," Renee and her husband Tadd are packing to move from New York to live in the countryfor a while. Renee takes a bag of old clothes to Goodwill, and when she sets the bag down in front of the closed store, a street person tears into it and begins pulling her personal possessions from it, trying them on, one after another. In this and other stories, the main characters find themselves momentarily involved with a strange person and circumstance. Who or what might these characters represent? What might these strange characters mean to the main characters? How does their presence affect the main characters and their immediate troubles? Do the main characters learn anything from these circumstances?

8. Some of Beattie's characters become fixated on things. In the story, "Janus," Andrea becomes fixated on a bowl. In the story, "Summer People," Tom becomes fixated on a man who has stopped by asking about the house and the property. In "Where You'll Find Me," the narrator becomes fixated on a man she never meets. What might these fixations symbolize for Beattie's characters? What might these things/objects represent? How might these fixations be an extension to the character's psyche? Are there any other characters who fixate on something? If so, who are they and on what do they fixate?

9. The stories "Skeletons," "Spiritus," "Times," and "Where You'll Find Me," are about marriage and married couples. How do these stories illuminate Beattie's vision of contemporary marriage? What happens in a Beattie marriage? Do her married characters get what they are looking for from their mates?

10. What happens between Beattie's male and female characters both in and out of marriage? What characterizes their troubles? Do Beattie's characters get the love they are after? If not, what keeps them from getting it? Do her characters ever break through to each other? How do they manage it?

11. In the story "In the White Night," Vernon and his wife, Carol, attend a party where they are reminded of the daughter they lost. When they return home, Vernon falls asleep on the sofa with Carol's coat pulled over him. Carol pulls his coat out and lies down on the floor next to him. Beattie writes: "In the white night world outside, their daughter might be drifting past like an angel, and she would see this tableau, for the second that she hovered, as a necessary small adjustment." Why do you think this act comforted Vernon? Why did his wife lay down next to him, rather than to have gone to bed? How do Beattie's other characters cope with inevitable sadness? What are some of the small adjustments they make? What are some of the ways we make our small adjustments?

12. What view of human nature does Where You'll Find Me seem to express? What might Beattie's vantage point be? Does Beattie herself provide or suggest a vision of an ideal world? What is it?

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