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All The Anxious Girls on Earth: Stories [Paperback]

Zsuzsi Gartner
3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Book Description

March 8 1999

This is the first collection of startlingly original stories by a new writer who promises to become a major presence in Canadian literature. At the heart of Zsuzsi Gartner`s technically innovative, darkly humorous and exuberant prose is a cri de coeur for personal responsibility as the sun sets on a 20th Century in which media is omnipresent and everyone`s a victim. There are no innocent bystanders here, though. A woman calls in fake bomb threats from the 19th floor of a bank tower as revenge against her ex-lover. A man copy-edits a manual on organic extermination while his girlfriend lets a talking fetus know who`s the boss. A newspaper editor chokes on death and open-faced chiliburgers during the graveyard shift and insists it doesn`t affect her after all. Lured into the wilderness by desire for a man who builds vintage airplanes, a woman finds she lusts more for almond biscotti and city sidewalks. Scouted by the acclaimed novelist Barbara Gowdy, Zsuzsi Gartner dazzles with these nine stories of truly unique literary sensibility.

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From Publishers Weekly

The nine edgy tales gathered in Canadian short story stylist Gartner's debut collection are daringly diverse in presentation, if uneven in execution. Most problematic is the overuse of a tricky second-person narrative voice, employed in no fewer than three tales, including the opening story, "How to Survive in the Bush." Here, the earnestly didactic imperative detracts from the archly humorous underpinnings of a Canadian version of Green Acres involving a city girl and a reclusive aviator. Thankfully, style and content are more happily wedded in the earthy "boys growing," in which a scent-obsessed schoolteacher pursues her still sweet-smelling male students, rejecting men her own age who reek of "wet metal." In the hilarious "The Nature of Pure Evil," the protagonist discovers a novel way to assert herself. After her live-in boyfriend of seven years makes her iron his tuxedo shirt before he heads off to what turns out to be his wedding to another woman, Hedy begins calling in fake bomb threats. Gartner proves herself capable of pyrotechnic bursts of prose in "City of my dreams," which revolves around a woman named Lewis, the programmer for a film festival who retreats to work in a shop that sells food-inspired soap after a disappointed filmmaker self-immolates on her front porch. Finally, in the most ambitious piece, "Odds that, all things considered, she'd someday be happy," a terrorist act gets the four-sided Rashomon treatment, with the victim's mother benefiting the most when she uses her daughter's tragic death as the perfect springboard to a career as a talk-show host. When Gartner doesn't strain too hard at her craft, her undeniably original voice charges her stories with irresistible verve. (June)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

From Library Journal

Canadian author Gartner, a journalist and editor (Saturday Night and The Georgia Straight magazines), has written nine unique short stories. Some readers will relate to them, while others will despair. Bizarre, often brilliant, these are not success stories. Rather, they are peopled with wacky, alienated characters flummoxed by their own lives. A mentally retarded woman glories in the five-year-old genius nephew in her care after his parents are killed in an accident; a young woman follows her current heartthrob into bush country, then longs for the noisy clamor of urban traffic and the feel of city sidewalks; a daughter learns of her mother's miscarriage 30 years earlier and mentally communes with the unborn fetus. What these stories lack in depth they may make up for in cleverness. For these are clever stories. If this is enough for you, enjoy. For larger fiction collections.DMary G. Szczesiul, Roseville P.L., MI
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant at times Sept. 17 2007
Although slightly uneven, this collection of short stories contains moments of sheer brilliance. If you're a writer, this is well worth checking out. Gartner has a knack for bringing out the obscure and the absurd. If you have an off-beat sense of humour, this book will appeal to you.

Well worth a look.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 3.4 out of 5 stars  5 reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great stuff. Sept. 17 2000
By Edwart Thumpy - Published on Amazon.com
Please don't listen to the last reviewer. These are really exciting, interesting stories full of turns of phrase that'll just make your hair curl. The most significant thing here is "boys growing," and while nothing else quite matches up to that, this is a solid collection. Recommended for those of us who don't mind a little weirdness.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Biased because I like Canucks July 15 2005
By Sherry K. Sly - Published on Amazon.com
I just re-read this book recently and felt like putting in my two cents because i just enjoyed it so much ... again. I like Gartner's style a lot. She reminds me of some of my favorite authors, but with a lighter touch. She's got the weirdness of AM Homes without the hopelessness; the edginess of Mary Gaitskill without the relentlessness. She's got the off kilter insight into human nature of Barbara Kingsolver without the granola touches. And Gartner's got the hipness of the whole "Eggars" crowd while not being self-consciously cool.

Granted, there's a detached quality to Gartner's style and sometimes there's too much specific detail, but for just sheer originality, and not feeling like you have to hug a puppy to restore your faith in humanity after reading a book -- i highly recommend.
4.0 out of 5 stars Reality and Sarcasm at its best. Sept. 20 2001
By Erika - Published on Amazon.com
I usually don't like short stories, based on the fact that they usually have to have some sort of meaning behind it. I love ZsuZsi's writing style though.
I recommend this book to anyone and everyone who wants to laugh
4.0 out of 5 stars smart, roiling stories Nov. 4 2000
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Lots of layers in here, rumbling below. The weirdness makes it marvelous, and the language sings. It's definitely worth checking out.
3 of 19 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Awful! Aug. 26 2000
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
I have to say, the author does have writing talent. The book was awful though. I would not reccomend it to anyone. They are weird stories about weird women and it was just awful. I hated it.
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