Some Trick: Thirteen Stories

Some Trick: Thirteen Stories

Unabridged — 6 hours, 11 minutes

Some Trick: Thirteen Stories

Some Trick: Thirteen Stories

Unabridged — 6 hours, 11 minutes

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Overview

Hailed a “Best Book of the Year” by NPR, Publishers Weekly, Vulture, and the New York Public Library

Finalist for the 2019 PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize for Debut Fiction

For sheer unpredictable brilliance, Gogol may come to mind, but no author alive today takes a reader as far as Helen DeWitt into the funniest, most yonder dimensions of possibility. Her jumping-off points might be statistics, romance, the art world's piranha tank, games of chance and games of skill, the travails of publishing, or success. “Look,” a character begins to explain, laying out some gambit reasonably enough, even if facing a world of boomeranging counterfactuals, situations spinning out to their utmost logical extremes, and Rube Goldberg-like moving parts, where things prove “more complicated than they had first appeared” and “at 3 a.m. the circumstances seem to attenuate.” In various ways, each tale carries DeWitt's signature poker-face lament regarding the near-impossibility of the life of the mind when one is made to pay to have the time for it, in a world so sadly “taken up with all sorts of paraphernalia superfluous, not to say impedimental, to ratiocination.”


Editorial Reviews

The New York Times Book Review - Hermione Hoby

…[a] brilliant, manic new collection…A DeWitt short story is a thing crafted with unimpeachable skill, even genius, but as you marvel at the stitching you might also shudder at the sense of a cruel, even brutal, joke. The stitching falls between as well as within stories; the collection proceeds with fractal precision.

Publishers Weekly

★ 03/05/2018
DeWitt (The Last Samurai) reasserts herself as one of contemporary fiction’s greatest minds in this dazzling collection of stories about misunderstood genius. In “My Heart Belongs to Bertie,” a statistician flees from a lunch with his book agent, preferring instead an imagined conversation with a “robot, in which rationality carries no stigma.” Literary agents come under fire again in “Climbers,” about a group of Americans who seek to publish the work of a reclusive novelist. Heedless of the fact that he is a writer who “can feel his mind crackling” under social pressure, they secure an agent who decides his book may be “the next 2666.” The writer’s only response to the bombardment of emails that ensues is to close his laptop and go “off in search of a beer or maybe a Sachertorte.” The suffering of a brilliant mind is made most accessible by “Famous Last Words,” wherein DeWitt’s narrator glumly accepts the degeneration of a stimulating conversation about Barthes into a seduction that leaves her and her suitor “stripped of language, indifferent featherless bipeds.” DeWitt’s disdain for those who seek to profit off of genius is sharp and refreshing, and her ability to deliver such astounding prose and thought-provoking stories constitutes a minor miracle. This is a gem of a collection. (May)

New York Times Book Review

"DeWitt’s manic, brilliant new collection...populated by geniuses and virtuosos, the stories are zanily cerebral and proceed with fractal precision."

Longreads

"The picture this collection makes is one of a genius who is herself maddened by social niceties, and all the other tedious obstacles of the daily capitalist grind."

Hermione Hoby

"There is much madness in DeWitt’s method, a madness of pure logic. Hilarious."

San Francisco Chronicle

"The artist-characters in Some Trick, Helen DeWitt’s new collection of bitingly hilarious stories, discover that integrity and commercial success are incompatible, or at most a fluke that can’t be replicated without sacrificing one’s sanity and/or soul."

The Millions

"For sheer brilliance and humor, Some Trick delivers like nothing else, simply because DeWitt writes like no one else.DeWitt’s great subject is genius, an ambitious undertaking made less so by the fact that she may just be one herself"

The Paris Review Daily

"Ruthlessly honesty about the sausage making of literary production ... DeWitt's stories are devastatingly specific, and yet they serve as broad parables about the inevitability of being misunderstood, both as an artist and as a person."

Vanity Fair

"A mind-bending collection of short stories that span such heady topics as statistical computing, religion, and the essence of capital-A Art—what DeWitt summits in substance she also mirrors in readability."

The Village Voice - Hannah Gold

"At times I’ve thought of "geniuses” as those lucky individuals who turn out to have a destiny, one they can convince themselves and many others of at once. To me, DeWitt is an exception: No matter the vicissitudes of the publishing industry, she remains the real deal."

Look at This! - The Nation - Becca Rothfeld

"DeWitt is a hot-blooded intellectual, and her contagious passion for the life of the mind can redeem even the bleakest lamentations...In the world of Some Trick, the best words are so acute they lacerate."

Southern Living

"A fascinating, expansively erudite thrill."

Vulture

"DeWitt’s stories are comic and intricate, and cut against the grain of current American fiction in the best of ways"

The Baffler - Lauren Oyler

"A few stories in Some Trick do feature DeWitt’s version of a happy ending: someone figures out a loophole, a way to maneuver a set of senseless best practices to work for him, and experiences the watered-down relief of solving a problem that shouldn’t exist."

NPR - Annalisa Quinn

"Some Trick seems less like a story collection and more like a series of notes from some vast, alien intelligence. DeWitt's characters are savants, weirdos, and artists, often trying to achieve their ends against the best efforts of the well-meaning and conventional people around them."

San Diego Magazine - Angela Carone

"Helen DeWitt combines literary theory, math, and satire in Some Trick, a cerebral collection of 13 stories that digs into the publishing industry, among other topics."

POPSUGAR

"The most radical, off-the-wall, completely astonishing pages you'll read in your lifetime.... A small-but-mighty tome."

The Paris Review - Miranda Popkey

"DeWitt pushes against the limitations of the novel as a form; reading her, one wants to push against the limitations of one’s own brain."

The Millions - May Preview: Most Anticipated

"DeWitt applies her mordant virtuosity to territory ranging from statistics to publishing."

The New Yorker - James Wood

"DeWitt's style is brilliantly heartless, and cork-dry; original herself, she is a witty examiner of human and cultural eccentricity. She can take a recognizable social situation or fact and steadily twist it into a surrealist skein. In Some Trick there are passages and pages that had me laughing out loud—imagine a Bertie Wooster who is not a straightforward dimwit but an eccentrically clever and hermetically erudite dimwit."

Dissent - Madeleine Schwartz

"DeWitt’s bracing experiments are risks worth taking."

By the Book

"I like dry humor with a stick of dynamite strapped to it. The forthcoming collection Some Trick by Helen DeWitt, is probably the most recent example."

Times Magazine

"These 13 tales, which push the boundaries of fiction, center on misunderstood geniuses and manage to combine complex mathematical theories with razor-sharp wit — no easy achievement."

The end of the world is nigh: the latest short stories reviewed - The Spectator - ASH Smyth

"DeWitt keeps a pure flame, and doesn’t want to hear why others won’t. The abiding theme of Some Trick: Thirteen Stories is thwarted genius — especially where that genius is female. The art world features heavily, as do publishing, music, languages, maths and computer programming—yet it’s all perversely readable, and entertaining."

Elle Magazine

"If there's any author bookish types trust to take them down the twistiest of rabbit holes with humor and winking unpredictability, Helen DeWitt is it. Take the plunge with these 13 short stories."

Harper's

"DeWitt knows fourteen languages and is conversant in advanced math and computer code... she has harnessed her coder's brain to negative capability. Compulsive and very funny."

LA Review of Books

"DeWitt is the sort of artist that doesn’t back away from her vision, and she takes the reader with her. A polyglot with a PhD in Classics from Oxford, DeWitt wields an immense intellect that, in each of her books, she uses to cynically delight her readers."

Los Angeles Review of Books - Lindsay Gail

"Her books assert (and often attest) that a work of fiction can encompass many kinds of knowledge—probability theory, scatterplots of data, tables of non-Roman alphabets—without compromising its form."

The Huffington Post - Ilana Teitelbaum

"An intellectual powerhouse, laugh-out-loud funny in unexpected ways."

Frieze - Andrew Durbin

"In this new collection, DeWitt maps a rangy and verbose urban landscape populated by couch surfers, VC bros, underpaid artists, a guitarist on a walkabout, mathematicians, two seemingly different guys named Gil, obscure European novelists and an itinerant heiress fluent in the tinkering grammars of probability, risk and global finance."

Electric Literature - Sheila Heti

"Brilliant and inimitable Helen DeWitt: patron saint of anyone in the world who has to deal with the crap of those in power who do a terrible job with their power, and who make those who are under their power utterly miserable. Certain stories have something in common with dreams: they’re expressions of the creator’s wish-fulfillment. Helen DeWitt’s wishes are distinct in American literature—in world literature, as far as I know."

Time

"The multilingual author, known for her novels The Last Samurai and Lightning Rods, demonstrates her intellectual prowess in this thought-provoking debut collection. These 13 tales, which push the boundaries of fiction, center on misunderstood geniuses and manage to combine complex mathematical theories with razor-sharp wit—no easy achievement."

The Atlantic - Adam Kirsch

"One definition of a genius is that she is so dissatisfied with the way the world is that she compels it to adjust to her, rather than following the usual course of adjusting to it. The 13 stories in Some Trick are full of this kind of figure, so much so that the book comes to read like a disguised confession. How do you get a complacent world to stop talking and pay attention? Some Trick suggests that the answer involves stubbornness, oddity, and a great deal of talent."

Chicago Review

"DeWitt certainly has some more tricks up her sleeve."

New York Times Book Review - Sloane Crosley

"I like dry humor with a stick of dynamite strapped to it. The forthcoming collection Some Trick by Helen DeWitt, is probably the most recent example."

Time

"The multilingual author, known for her novels The Last Samurai and Lightning Rods, demonstrates her intellectual prowess in this thought-provoking debut collection. These 13 tales, which push the boundaries of fiction, center on misunderstood geniuses and manage to combine complex mathematical theories with razor-sharp wit—no easy achievement."

The Millions - May Preview: Most Anticipated

"DeWitt applies her mordant virtuosity to territory ranging from statistics to publishing."

Kirkus Reviews

★ 2018-02-20
Short works from the author of Lightning Rods (2011) and The Last Samurai (2000)."Many years ago a friend commented that we rarely see fiction that shows the way mathematicians think." Few authors would take this observation as a challenge, but few authors are like DeWitt. One of the distinguishing features of DeWitt's work is a sense of curiosity. She seems to find everything interesting, so she makes everything interesting. The story that springs from that friend's offhand remark is "My Heart Belongs to Bertie," the tale of a man who writes children's books that explain complex mathematical principles. The story contains charts mapping various probabilities, and if that sounds tedious, it is not, because DeWitt has crafted an utterly sympathetic character who would most definitely use charts. "Famous Last Words" includes equations that will probably be inscrutable to most readers, but the very fact that the equations are there tells us so much about the two people who inhabit this odd love story. Literary theory is deftly deployed. There are amusing and illuminating footnotes. Many of these pieces depict the backside or underside of creative work. DeWitt explores the impact of contractual obligations on music, for example, as well as the inner workings of the publishing industry as seen from a variety of viewpoints. Money is shown to be more important than we tend to like to think it is when it comes to art. DeWitt's wide-ranging intellect makes these stories, but it's her sense of humor and profound humanity that make them work. She approaches her weirdos and screw-ups with keen-eyed honesty but also with sincere affection. And the first story, "Brutto," has one of the most satisfying closing lines ever. This collection has many delights, but it's worth picking up just for that.DeWitt continues to explore the limits of storytelling with these slyly charming tales.

Product Details

BN ID: 2940169700510
Publisher: Brilliance Audio
Publication date: 09/18/2018
Edition description: Unabridged
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