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
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About the Author
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.
Hometown:Maine and Key West, Florida
Date of Birth:September 8, 1947
Place of Birth:Washington, D.C.
Education:B.A., American University, 1969; M.A., University of Connecticut, 1970
What People are Saying About This
"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."
"Lyrical and compact, heartbreaking and wise, this is the music of our spheres, etched on microchips."
"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."
Reading Group Guide
- 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?
- 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?
- 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?
- 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.
- 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?
- 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?
- In the story "The Big Outside World," Renee and her husband Tadd are packing to move from New York to live in the country for 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?
- 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?
- 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?
- 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?
- 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?
- 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?
Available Light, Ellen Currie
Scribner Paperback Fiction, 1995
Bad Behavior, Mary Gaitskill
Vintage Books, 1989
Back in the World, Tobias Wolff
Bantam Books, 1986
The Collected Stories of William Trevor, William Trevor
The Country Girls: Trilogy and Epilogue, Edna O'Brien
The Shipping News, E. Annie Proulx
Scribner Paperback Fiction, 1994
Long Walks and Intimate Talks/Stories and Poems, Grace Paley
Feminist Press, 1991
The Moons of Jupiter, Alice Munro
Taking Care, Joy Williams
Vintage Books, 1985
What We Talk About When We Talk About Love, Raymond Carve
Vintage Books, 1989
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
The writing's excellent. Clear and concise, just how I like it. It was hard for me to personally relate to some of the characters, but that's not for lack of Beattie's trying. I can relate to folks who "summer" and have second apartments in the City about as well as I can relate the hard-drinking, hard-living folks in Raymond Carver's stories, which is to say not really all that much. Doesn't really stop either writers' stories from punching me in the gut, though.Some might call some of the references in Beattie's stories a bit dated. I find them nostalgic. She references Pac Man & Space Invaders (the arcade machines), Bowie playing on the radio, LBJ, and est. It's risky when a writer does that, but maybe I'm just (barely) old enough for those references to resonate with me.