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Bang Crunch Hardcover – Jan 16 2007

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf Canada; 1st Edition edition (Jan. 16 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0676978363
  • ISBN-13: 978-0676978360
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 2.8 x 21.7 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 408 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #692,024 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Montreal-based translator Smith debuts with nine stories, some of which hit the mark. In The B9ers, a man forms a support group for people who have had benign tumors removed, and that's where the action stops: a weak subplot involving fraud by a representative of an orphanage fails to give the story much bite. In Isolettes, a woman has a baby with the use of her friend's sperm, yet when catastrophe strikes after the birth, the general airlessness of the writing makes it hard to access her feelings. Similarly, the collection's longest story, Jaybird, profiles an ambitious actor led into an extremely revealing performance by his agent's secretary under false pretenses, but the denouement unfolds mutedly. Smith's poise finds its best home in Extremities, which follows a pair of gloves from one owner to another and finally through a murder, and in the title story, in which a woman ages forward too rapidly, and then backward just as rapidly. (Jan.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.


Bang Crunch is a wonder. Devastatingly witty, heartfelt and wise. YOU MUST READ THIS BOOK.”
—Miriam Toews

Praise for Neil Smith:

“Smith’s numerous talents collapse the distance between maniacal violence and the insecurities and inadequacies beneath the surface of daily life.”
The Globe and Mail

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By Teddy on June 12 2008
Format: Hardcover
This is Neil Smith's debut book of 9 short stories. It's somewhat uneven, like most books of short fiction. Some of the stories were gems and a couple duds.

I especially enjoyed "The B9ers", the story of a support group for people who had benign tumors. Yes, you read write, the non-lethal variety of tumor. This story was both humorous and touching.

Another story I enjoyed was the title story, "Bang Crunch". It's the touching story about a girl born with Fred Hoyle syndrome. First she ages rapidly and then goes backward, back to an embryo again.

There were only 2 stories that I didn't care for at all. "Green Fluorescent Protein" and "Extremities". They were just too "out there" for me.

Neil Smith is a strong writer. He writes with sensitivity and wicked humour. Though I didn't like all the stories in this collection, I highly recommend it. The stories I enjoyed were well worth the time!
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3 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Kelly Rossiter on March 6 2007
Format: Hardcover
There is a particular merit to the short story form. It allows you to skate by on pure literary talent when purpose you are working with a premise that would not stand up to anything longer. Neil Smith has clearly perfected this art; Bang/Crunch is a collection of stories that are charming, perfect, and beautifully written, but would be completely insufferable were they any longer.

Of the nine short stories in the collection, there are a few that have frustratingly mundane concepts – including the after school special topics of a teenager questioning his sexuality and one about surviving cancer. These premises, although dull, are rescued to a one by delicate and finely crafted prose; there're few words out of place in the book, and not a sentence that doesn't feel like it has been distilled down.

Those stories where the quality of the concept matches the writing – the title foremost among them – are marvelous things, and all of the stories do end up compelling. I don't mean this to be a negative review, because Bang/Crunch is wonderful to read and the product of a spectacular writer. It's just that it feels a bit like a nice new paint job on a rickety shack. Very nice on the outside, but I wouldn't want to stay long.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 2 reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Mixed Debut Feb. 7 2008
By A. Ross - Published on
Format: Paperback
Like a lot of short story collections, this debut from Montreal writer Smith is a mighty mixed bag. Smith aligns himself with writers like George Saunders -- both are crafters of short stories that are funny and sad, with one foot firmly set in the recognizable world, and the other slightly into the surreal ether. And like Saunders, Smith's stories generally revolve around a peculiar object, trait, or situation. Sometimes this works well, and sometimes it just falls kind of flat.

The opener, "Isolette," is a heartbreaker of loneliness about two unconventional friends who have a baby together. To a certain extent, it might be a mistake to place such an affecting story at the front of the collection, as it sets a very high standard that none of the other stories match. For example, immediately after it comes "Green Florescent Protein," which is a nicely crafted but ultimately conventional story about a teenage boy struggling to admit his attraction to his his best friend. Then comes, "The B9ers," which is perfectly emblematic of the collection as a whole -- also well written, the story is both funny and wan as it follows John Smith (the ultimate benign name) as he founds a support group for people with benign tumors.

The title story is the shortest of the lot, a ten-page ramble about a girl who suffers from an fictional disease which causes her aging process to accelerate, making her a genius at a young age. But once she reaches her theoretical maximum age, the disease reverses, causing her to revert in age -- in other words, it's a Jonathan Lethemy conceptual riff based on the Big Bang theory. "Scrapbook" is fairly forgettable piece about a couple, set in the aftermath of a Virginia Tech type college shooting spree. "The Butterfly Box" is equally forgettable -- although it manages to evoke brief spasms of loneliness from its sparseness.

Despite the conceit of a woman talking to her dead husband's ashes (contained in a curling rock), "Funny Weird or Funny Ha Ha?" is one of the more straightforward and better stories. It revisits the mother of the teenage boy from "Green Florescent Protein" as she comes to terms with her alcoholism. "Extremities" is probably my least favorite story, as it switches back and forth in perspective between a pair of calfskin gloves in a department store and an astronaut's talking foot. Enough said about that one the better... The final story, "Jaybird," is the longest, and totally draws the reader into its unsettling plot. Set amidst Montreal's acting community, it follows an established theater pro as he works with a mentee as part of studio project which is taken in a sinister direction.

The collection tends to rise and fall on the strength of the various stories' premises. These range from well-trodden to totally inventive, but Smith generally uses them well in exploring tenderness, loneliness, humor, tragedy, and farce in equal parts. His prose chops are often able to overcome any narrative weaknesses, however at time it can be a little too crisply controlled, exhibiting too much of the craftsman/technician about it. It' a solid-enough debut, and it would be interesting to see whether or not Smith's style would work in a novel.
3 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Excellen short stories from a new author Jan. 18 2008
By Armchair Interviews - Published on
Format: Paperback
Bang Crunch is Canadian author Neil Smith's debut collection of short stories. It contains nine short stories all about pretty ordinarily average people who find themselves in rather unexpected situations. I didn't know what to expect when I opened up the book, while snuggling up on my sofa, against the cold weather outside with a large mug of tea. What I found between the covers of this slim novel captivated me and left me wanting to read more by this extraordinarily talented author.

These are a few of the introspective stories in Bang Crunch:

"Isolettes" introduces us to a young set of parents dealing with the extremity early birth of their child. The story examines the frailty of the new life, and the struggle the young mother has with finding love for the incubator-bound baby, wrapped in tubes and sensors.

"Green Florescent Protein" is about Max, a teen struggling to cope with several new situations. He recently moved to a new home in Westmont. His mother, a wacky, sober ex-drunk who talks to his father's cremated remains (which are housed inside a curling stone), deciding to give herself a "life overhaul." He also is struggling with a new feeling of attraction that goes past friendship with his closest friend, Ruby-Doo.

"The B9ers" - What happens when a survivor of a benign tumor starts a support group for others in the same situation? The B9ers captures the struggle of a group of people trying to return to normal life after a close call. They don't get the support and sympathy they need, since their tumors were not malignant, but still struggle along after surgery.

"Bang Crunch" - Is a look into the life of a girl with Fred Hoyle's syndrome, which ages her a year a day.

"Scrapbook" - Amy and her boyfriend struggle with the attack on a University German class that ends with the death of eight women. He was one of the survivors of the attack. This story delves into the "what ifs"? Why did this happen? The story also delves into the emotions of guilt and anxiety of being a survivor.

Armchair Interviews says: A debut short-story author to read and be encouraged to write more.

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