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Black Glass: Short Fictions [Hardcover]

Karen Jay Fowler
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Feb. 15 1998 Folk Art and Artists
Carry Nation is on the loose again, breaking up discos, smashing topless bars, preaching clean living to men more intent on booze and babes. And what of Tonto, ever-faithful companion of the Lone Ranger, turning 40 without so much as a birthday call from the masked man? In these and 13 other short fictions, Fowler once again demonstrates the imaginative virtuosity that is fast winning her critical acclaim Author readings .

Product Details


Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Gifted novelist Fowler (Sarah Canary and The Sweetheart Season) delights in the arcane, and, as a result, these 15 clever tales are occasionally puzzling but never dull. In the long title story, temperance activist Carry Nation is resurrected in the 1990s ("We're talking about a very troubled, very big woman," says one shaken barman to reporters) and becomes such a nuisance that the DEA is forced to dispatch her with voodoo. Other plots are only slightly less outrageous in conceit. In "Lieserl," a lovesick madwoman dupes Albert Einstein into believing he has a daughter; in "The Faithful Companion at Forty," Tonto admits to second thoughts about his biggest life choice ("But for every day, for your ordinary life, a mask is only going to make you more obvious. There's an element of exhibitionism in it"). "The Travails" offers a peek at the one-sided correspondence of Mary Gulliver, who wants Lemuel to come home already and help out around the house. The homage to Swift makes sense, for, when Fowler doesn't settle for amusing her readers, she makes a lively satirist. The extraterrestrials who appear in her stories (whether the inscrutably sadistic monsters in "Duplicity" or the members of a seminar studying late-1960s college behavior in "The View From Venus: A Case Study") seem stand-ins for the author herself, who, in elegant and witty prose, cultivates the eye of a curious alien and, along the way, unfolds eccentric plots that keep the pages turning.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

This stunning collection of stories by the author of Sarah Canary (LJ 5/1/92) so carefully intertwines the ordinary with the extraordinary that what should seem incredible is fully believable. Though the stories may appear to be about a DEA agent who unwittingly revives the spirit of Carry A. Nation, two women held captive by aliens in the Brazilian rain forest, a magic potion made from a unicorn's horn, or a classroom of Venusians learning about Earthly love, at their core they are about human relationships and all the more startling for their insight from seemingly unrelated points. A few pieces puzzle more than they enlighten, but the reader may be motivated to return to them for a slower reading. Highly recommended.?Christine DeZelar-Tiedman, Univ. of Idaho Lib., Moscow
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

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4.7 out of 5 stars
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Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Fifteen Dark Gems Sept. 30 2001
Format:Hardcover
As wonderful as Fowler's novels are, her short stories pack an even bigger punch. The blurb on the inside front cover wants you to notice that there are stories here about Gulliver's Travels, Carry Nation and the Lone Ranger and Tonto, but don't let the publisher's name-dropping turn you off; Fowler doesn't need to invoke names of legend or other fictions to tell her stories. She's got wit and intelligence and a total lack of mercy when it comes to her characters.
Take a story like "Duplicity," where a pair of women are captured by what might or might not be aliens, who manage to slowly and chillingly turn the captives against each other. Or a story like "The Elizabeth Complex," a multi-faceted meditation on women and their fathers. Or the way Fowler uses history to paint unpleasant pictures of our own present, as she does with "Shimabara." Fowler is as much at ease with stark and unsanitized childhood remembrance ("Go Back," "The Brew") as she is with ironic reflections on radical Berkely ("Letters From Home," "The View From Venus: A Case Study"). Her stories are funniest when they are biting, her characters cut deepest when they are smiling, and she is never, ever, one hundred percent reliable.
This is a great collection. I await more.
Was this review helpful to you?
4.0 out of 5 stars Lily Red more than Black Glass Aug. 22 1998
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
Other than the longest, first, and book titling short story being my least favorite, "Black Glass: Short Fictions" is varied and filled with surprises. I'm glad I got past "Black Glass" and kept reading. I would much preferred to have the volume titled after another story, "Lily Red." Karen Joy Fowler is able to capture our imaginations quickly, develop the story, give us enough twists and leave us satisfied but wanting more. Many of these stories have a science fiction flare. Lily Red was perhaps my favorite. I could see it developed into a haunting romantic film script. Lily is stopped by a police officer, directed to "Mattie's," a little bed and breakfast, where everyone asks her if she's come to see "the caves." The police officer turns out to be an American Indian named Henry who is quite older than his appearance of 33 years. The torrid love story of Henry and Lily in the cave comes as somewhat of a surprise, and then more twists of reality occur. I did not care for "Black Glass" because of the issue of drugs, but appreciate the way Fowler twists language and traditional story structure to reflect a hallucinogenic experience. It was quite individually done. "The View from Venus: A Case Study" was an excellent exploration of the conundrum of romance. My second favorite story was "The Brew" which connects the magical traditions of the past, witches and unicorns, to the real story of friendship in present day. Mr. McBean is such a drunken and delightfully crotchety character that he scares us and makes us curious at the same time. He begs to be put on the stage. I honestly don't know what to make of "Game Night at the Fox & Goose," but I liked it. Read more ›
Was this review helpful to you?
5.0 out of 5 stars Dazzling writing! Aug. 12 1998
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
Inventive, assured writing makes each story in this collection a delight. Interesting characters, unusual settings, always something new to discover. Highly recommended.
Was this review helpful to you?
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.7 out of 5 stars  3 reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fifteen Dark Gems Sept. 30 2001
By David J. Schwartz - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
As wonderful as Fowler's novels are, her short stories pack an even bigger punch. The blurb on the inside front cover wants you to notice that there are stories here about Gulliver's Travels, Carry Nation and the Lone Ranger and Tonto, but don't let the publisher's name-dropping turn you off; Fowler doesn't need to invoke names of legend or other fictions to tell her stories. She's got wit and intelligence and a total lack of mercy when it comes to her characters.
Take a story like "Duplicity," where a pair of women are captured by what might or might not be aliens, who manage to slowly and chillingly turn the captives against each other. Or a story like "The Elizabeth Complex," a multi-faceted meditation on women and their fathers. Or the way Fowler uses history to paint unpleasant pictures of our own present, as she does with "Shimabara." Fowler is as much at ease with stark and unsanitized childhood remembrance ("Go Back," "The Brew") as she is with ironic reflections on radical Berkely ("Letters From Home," "The View From Venus: A Case Study"). Her stories are funniest when they are biting, her characters cut deepest when they are smiling, and she is never, ever, one hundred percent reliable.
This is a great collection. I await more.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Lily Red more than Black Glass Aug. 22 1998
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Other than the longest, first, and book titling short story being my least favorite, "Black Glass: Short Fictions" is varied and filled with surprises. I'm glad I got past "Black Glass" and kept reading. I would much preferred to have the volume titled after another story, "Lily Red." Karen Joy Fowler is able to capture our imaginations quickly, develop the story, give us enough twists and leave us satisfied but wanting more. Many of these stories have a science fiction flare. Lily Red was perhaps my favorite. I could see it developed into a haunting romantic film script. Lily is stopped by a police officer, directed to "Mattie's," a little bed and breakfast, where everyone asks her if she's come to see "the caves." The police officer turns out to be an American Indian named Henry who is quite older than his appearance of 33 years. The torrid love story of Henry and Lily in the cave comes as somewhat of a surprise, and then more twists of reality occur. I did not care for "Black Glass" because of the issue of drugs, but appreciate the way Fowler twists language and traditional story structure to reflect a hallucinogenic experience. It was quite individually done. "The View from Venus: A Case Study" was an excellent exploration of the conundrum of romance. My second favorite story was "The Brew" which connects the magical traditions of the past, witches and unicorns, to the real story of friendship in present day. Mr. McBean is such a drunken and delightfully crotchety character that he scares us and makes us curious at the same time. He begs to be put on the stage. I honestly don't know what to make of "Game Night at the Fox & Goose," but I liked it. The story seemed to leave off just as it was beginning, leaving my mind to suggest how it might have worked out. Fowler's language is hardly lyrical, but is rooted in the conversational patterns and idioms of the present. This volume offers plenty of material for oral literary performance; and the often used first person enhances the stories when read aloud. I might have wished for a bit more of a spiritual level, a couple stories of faith and joy, but as is, these stories are fresh, well written, and greatly entertaining.
2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dazzling writing! Aug. 12 1998
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Inventive, assured writing makes each story in this collection a delight. Interesting characters, unusual settings, always something new to discover. Highly recommended.
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