×

Uh-oh, it looks like your Internet Explorer is out of date.

For a better shopping experience, please upgrade now.

You Think That's Bad
     

You Think That's Bad

2.6 3
by Jim Shepard
 

See All Formats & Editions

Following Like You’d Understand, Anyway—awarded the Story Prize and a finalist for the National Book Award—Jim Shepard returns with an even more wildly diverse collection of astonishingly observant stories. Like an expert curator, he populates the vastness of human experience—from its bizarre fringes and lonely, breathtaking pinnacles to

Overview

Following Like You’d Understand, Anyway—awarded the Story Prize and a finalist for the National Book Award—Jim Shepard returns with an even more wildly diverse collection of astonishingly observant stories. Like an expert curator, he populates the vastness of human experience—from its bizarre fringes and lonely, breathtaking pinnacles to the hopelessly mediocre and desperately below average—with brilliant scientists, reluctant soldiers, workaholic artists, female explorers, depraved murderers, and deluded losers, all wholly convincing and utterly fascinating.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“A stunner. . . . These stories bring their first person narrators right up to the point of obliteration, leaving us exhilarated.” —Los Angeles Times

“In just a few pages, Jim Shepard’s short stories do the work of entire novels. . . . Short story writers almost never get described as ambitious . . . and yet there’s no better word for Jim Shepard, who thinks big and writes short, without a doubt the most ambitious story writer in America.” —The Daily Beast
 
“If ventriloquism is a lost art, Mr. Shepard has found it. In these 11 short stories he shows he can move the lips of anyone: a special-effects designer on a Japanese film, a 15th-century French accomplice to dozens of murders, a retired American soldier reeling with post-traumatic stress disorder. Then there’s Mr. Shepard’s realistic staging, nailing entire worlds together with teeming, precise detail.” —The New York Times
 
“Shepard’s cataclysmic renderings are both terrifying and awe-inspiring. . . . Sublime.” —O, The Oprah Magazine 
 
You Think That’s Bad is potent enough to stamp Shepard as one of this generation’s short story masters. . . . Shepard’s language is precise, the scope of his research impressive, and he taps obscure historical events to terrific and terrifying effect.” —The Oregonian
 
“Each one of these eleven stories stands out for its masterly fusion of technique and subject. . . . What voices!” —San Francisco Chronicle

“There are few writers today with more artful gifts for active, authentic description. Shepard doesn’t pick one or two ‘telling details’; he propels the reader through whole bravura paragraphs of them. . . . His fine contrivances of cerebration and feeling can remind one of Richard Powers at his best. And his preference for historical questions, for real people’s big gestures, may help keep American short fiction from falling asleep in the snug little precincts of its usual subject matter.” —The New York Times Book Review
 
“Each of the eleven stories . . . is heartbreaking and true, and not one is less than perfect. . . . One of the most perceptive, intelligent and fearless writers of fiction in America today.” —Michael Schaub, “Books We Like,” NPR
 
“So good, so meaty, so brilliant, that you will want to read [these stories] over and over, unearth the subtle notes, try to understand what drives people to do what they do. . . . Here’s the next book that you’ve been waiting for.” —The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
 
“I'm hard-pressed to think of any author who can match Shepard for variety of subject matter, or anyone else with such an instinct for balance between a character's emotional conflicts and the task at hand. . . . These eleven stories may be set as far afield as 15th century France and Holland in the not-so-distant future, but each one shares the dark heart of the human condition at its core.” —Scott Ditzler, Kansas City Star
 
“The ‘contests’ of Doctorow’s historical figures and MacLeod’s melancholy protagonists seem humdrum compared with the travails that occur in Shepard’s kaleidoscopic universe. His genius resides in his omnivorous curiosity and imaginative inventiveness. . . . Shepard’s stories have the strangeness and bell-like clarity of truth. . . . Shepard has realized a vision of literature that is, in its sideways fashion, legitimately unique.” —The Washington Post
 
“Dark and slyly funny.” —Vanity Fair
 
“Exhilarating. . . . What we need is not a writer who can make the past relevant, but rather a writer who can show us that it already is.” —The Boston Globe
 
“Shepard is the only short-story writer I have ever read whose collections come with bibliographies as a matter of course. . . . Humor is Shepard’s . . . constant; It humanizes his larger-than-life protagonists and helps keep his stories from becoming research papers. Though he has an obvious camaraderie with George Saunders, Karen Russell, and other leading lights of the absurdist-fabulist school, he is ineluctably a realist writer.” —Justin Taylor, Bookforum
 
“[Shepard] is our leading miniaturist of massive catastrophe, the Jon Krakauer . . . of the MFA set.” —Slate
 
“Overwhelming, intense, involving—even frightening. . . . Shepard is genuinely taken with his subjects, and he describes their lives in a rich and exciting style.” —Portland Mercury
 
“Impressive. . . . These aren’t ‘write what you know’ stories, and Shepard gets credit for a wide-ranging collection that wrings poignancy out of every subject it touches, from the search for subatomic particles to the construction of Mothra.” —The Onion’s A.V. Club
 
“Another masterpiece. . . . Shepard packs so much history and empathy into each story.” —Time Out Chicago
 
“Time, distance, nationality and profession pose no barrier to Shepard, who combines research with imagination to produce startlingly well-written stories that reaffirm the expansive possibilities of fiction.” —The Miami Herald

Michael Lindgren
Each of the 11 stories…keys off some off-kilter but strangely affecting scenario…As an aesthetic strategy, this reliance on oddball anecdote is risky—it teeters on the edge of gimmickry—but the execution is so sure-handed that the reader is drawn in with complete and effortless authority. Shepard's stories have the strangeness and bell-like clarity of truth…
—The Washington Post
Thomas Mallon
Shepard's taut, high-­concept, research-dependent fiction covers a bracing, career-long range of hobbyhorses and obsessions. Nazis, horror movies, aircraft and explorers abound. Historical fiction is typically so ample and epilogic that the "historical short story" may seem a contradiction in terms, but Shepard has made himself, in particular, a master of this small, tricky subgenre…His fine contrivances of cerebration and feeling can remind one of Richard Powers at his best. And his preference for historical quests, for real people's big gestures, may help keep American short fiction from falling asleep in the snug little precincts of its usual subject matter.
—The New York Times
Bookforum
"The stories in You Think That's Bad are powerful reminders that institutions cannot be considered apart from the individuals who populate them. Armies, empires, corporations, and film crews shape the lives and dreams of countless millions, even as their own fates are made or broken by a few visionary leaders or disobedient drones . . . Shepard finds fascinating ways to consider how the global and the personal are inextricably intertwined, and he never commands less than your full attention . . . Magnificent." --(Justin Taylor)
The Miami Herald
"Beautifully written . . . What keeps you reading this eclectic and eccentric collection of stories is the emotional truth of the characters, and their doomed efforts to connect to the people in their lives they love most." --(Ann Levin)
The Kansas City Star
"Exceptional . . . Shepard reminds us that the short story is an art form unto itself, one that he has mastered in his own elegant and expansive way." --(Scott Ditzler)
The New York Times
"If ventriloquism is a lost art, Mr. Shepard has found it . . . he can move the lips of anyone: a special effects designer on a Japanese film, a 15th-century accomplice to dozens of murders, a retired American soldier reeling with post-traumatic stress disorder. [He nails] entire worlds together with teeming, precise detail." --(Susannah Meadows)
The Oprah Magazine O
"Stunning . . . Cinematic . . . Shepard's cataclysmic renderings are both terrifying and awe-inspiring. There's a word for that too—sublime.
The Daily Beast
"Jim Shepard, who thinks big and writes short, [is] without a doubt the most ambitious short story writer in America . . . In just a few pages, [his] short stories do the work of entire novels in capturing different places and times . . . In every story, Shepard sets his imagination (and ambition) at full throttle. In every story he lets his fancy run . . . A welcome reminder that fiction needn't be a walk around the precincts of a writer's experience." --(Taylor Antrim)
NPR
"Beautiful, essential . . . [Shepard is] one of the most perceptive, intelligent and fearless writers of fiction in America today . . . Each of the eleven stories in his new book is heartbreaking and true, and not one is less than perfect . . . [his] evocation of catastrophes both small and large, real and fictional, is an amazing study in contrast and loss, and it's exquisitely written." --(Michael Schaub)
The New York Times Book Review
"A master . . . Shepard's taut, high-concept, research-dependent fiction covers a bracing, career-long range of hobbyhorses and obsessions . . . And his preference for historical quests, for real people's big gestures, may help keep American short fiction from falling asleep in the snug little precincts of its usual subject matter." --(Thomas Mallon)
The Boston Globe
"Excellent . . . brutal, funny, cerebral [and] further proof that Shepard is one of the most catholic writers in America . . . It's exhilarating just to make that list [of his characters], to recall the variety of forms and subjects and voices. And it's even more exhilarating to see what Shepard does to and within these forms, how he can make Blackwater-esque jargon funny, how he can make the end of the world and the end of a marriage equally terrifying, how he can show that we're closest to people when we're hurting them . . . In Shepard's hands the sense of doom is often transformed by the biting wit and his deep affection for his characters and their fates." --(Brock Clarke)
Booklist
"Exceptionally imaginative [and] highly original…There is so much knowledge, insight, feeling, and artistry in each engrossing Shepard story, he must defy some law of literary physics." --(Donna Seaman, starred)
Library Journal
In this collection of 11 previously published tales of love and adversity, National Book Award nominee Shepard (Like You'd Understand, Anyway), whom the publisher compares to Jonathan Franzen and Colum McCann, offers close personal glimpses into the lives of characters facing ordinary and extraordinary challenges, among them a woman alone in Muslim Asia, a national guardsman from Wisconsin facing the Japanese in New Guinea, and a hydraulics engineer struggling to hold back the ocean while maintaining a sinking marriage in a flooding world of the future. These are just some of the characters who will remain forever with listeners in this collection ideally suited to audio and narrated in an accessible and intimate manner by actor/Audie Award winner Bronson Pinchot. A treat for all fans of literary or historical fiction. [The Knopf hc was recommended for "readers who enjoy Andrea Barrett or Russell Banks," LJ 12/10.—Ed.]—Janet Martin, Southern Pines P.L., NC

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780307742148
Publisher:
Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date:
03/06/2012
Series:
Vintage Contemporaries Series
Pages:
240
Product dimensions:
5.24(w) x 8.54(h) x 0.74(d)

What People are Saying About This

Aimee Bender
“Shepard translates the world for us. I felt so grateful reading this book because he has metabolized, thought about, researched, learned, gleaned, and understood so many complicated aspects of the world we live in. And not just our world now but past worlds, new worlds, internal worlds, external worlds. He is a time traveler with insight, and we are just plain lucky to have him bringing back these treasures.”--(Aimee Bender)
Jay McInerney
“Jim Shepard is a shapeshifting wizard: in some stories he seems to be a historian on hallucinogens; in others a scholarly purveyor of speculative fiction. Whether he's writing about the past or the future, Shepard combines a wild imagination with a stunning gift for mimesis. You Think That's Bad is his best collection yet.” --(Jay McInerney )
Richard Ford
“Shepard's talent is so various and canny he can write about seemingly anything and make it thrilling to us. His writerly eye is acute. His instinct around a sentence is virtuosic and masterful.” --(Richard Ford)

Meet the Author

Jim Shepard is the author of six novels and three previous story collections. His stories are published regularly in such magazines as The New Yorker, The Atlantic, McSweeney’s, Tin House, Zoetrope: All-Story, Playboy, and Vice, among others. “The Netherlands Lives with Water,” from this collection, appears in The Best American Short Stories 2010. “Your Fate Hurtles Down at You,” also from this collection, appears in PEN/O. Henry Prize Stories 2011. He lives with his wife and their three children in Williamstown, Massachusetts.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Post to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews

You Think That's Bad 2.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
ChrisRoberts More than 1 year ago
The single thread that ties the eleven stories together, setting, winds its way through the pages a dense, provincial artifice. I believe very little in the characters, they are swallowed up the very landscape meant to define them in their encounters with disaster, impending and otherwise. Or man as an unnatural force, "Classical Scenes of Farewell" which is a typical serial killer telling. The backdrop is nature's wrath and a catastrophe to the storyline in "The Netherlands Lives with Water," and many of the other tales. It makes for claustrophobic reading and I'm one for the wide open, sans trumped up natural calamities.