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Ellis Island and Other Stories Paperback – May 31 1991


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Paperback, May 31 1991
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 204 pages
  • Publisher: Mariner Books; Reissue edition (May 31 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0156283158
  • ISBN-13: 978-0156283151
  • Product Dimensions: 23.1 x 15.5 x 1.6 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 354 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #2,513,999 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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By Michael J. Edelman on Aug. 1 2001
Format: Paperback
Few writers can evoke a sense of place and mood like Helprin. The first story, "The Schreuderspitze", is as mystical and moving a story as you'll ever read. "Ellis Island" brings to mind the best of Issac Bashevis Singer. These are brilliant, mature, beautifully crafted tales by a master.
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Format: Paperback
I am not a regular reader of short stories. In general, I do not like them. Still, as a Mark Helprin fan, this is one of his few works that I had not read. I pressed on ... when I concluded the final story, Ellis Island, I felt completely satisfied with the journey. If you've never read Helprin, I believe "Ellis Island" and "A Vermont Tale" are most representative of his longer works. Each story will tempt you to read his novels, all of which are poetic magic. As I read through these stories, I saw glimpses of each subsequent novel, particularly my favorite, "A Winter's Tale." If you've read Helprin before, you owe yourself the time to read this collection. If you are new to Helprin, this work will encourage you to read more.
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By A Customer on Sept. 19 2000
Format: Paperback
My first encounter with Mark Helprin was his long novel, Winter's Tale. I thought it was perfect: glorious and mysterious, realistic and magical, funny and fantastic and wondrous and sad. It was almost too much of a good thing; sort of like chocolate decadence topped with mocha ice-cream and drenched in hot fudge sauce.
The stories in Ellis Island and Other Stories offer the same enticing overdose of goodness but in smaller doses. Lest you be thrown off by the cover or the title, these stories are definitely not history or even historical fiction. They are not exclusively about immigrants, Europe or the War, although threads of these subjects do run through them.
The title story, Ellis Island is the longest and the last. It is about the Ellis Island and immigration, of course, but it is also fantastic fantasy complete with a wonderful machine that melts the snow from the streets supported only by its own jets of fire, the Saromsker Rabbi and his glorious sermon on bees, the lovely Hava, and Elise, whose hair is nothing less than a pillar of fire. Of the eleven stories, Ellis Island comes closest to Winter's Tale in its spirit of fantasy, although A Vermont Winter best describes the perfection of a deep Northeastern snow. As in Winter's Tale, in Ellis Island, Helprin is not averse to destroying beautiful things for the sake of a larger good, even if the logic of his narrative does not demand that he do so. But that, you see, is Helprin; for him death is just another part of art.
All of these stories are brilliant and all of them are beautiful.
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Format: Paperback
I have to preface my comments by stating that though I was dissappointed with this collection, I remain an ardent fan of Mark Helperin. A Soldier of the Great War is one of the most finely-realized novels of the past twenty years. It's in many ways unfare to compare a writer's masterpiece with a collection of short-stories written 25 years earlier. But simply as someone making recommendations to other readers, I would suggest starting with a writer's magnum opus and working one's way back from there. I'd recommend reading The Brother's Karamazov before suggesting Poor Folk, for instance, or Anna Karenina before the Kreutzer Sonata.
What Ellis Island represents is a writer still in the process of finding his footing. We see in many of these stories the genesis of what will become the themes and motifs that will preoccupy the mature artist. The characters are consumed by romanticism and wanderlust, even the Vermont cranes who occupy a central position in the collection. The writing is lyrical and quite often moving. At times, however,it comes across as too consciously poetic, the metaphors forced. While Helperin strives for Joycean epiphanies, his endings too often come off as carelessly constructed fade-outs. This is particularly true of "The Schreuderspitze" and "Martin Bayer." I agree, however, with the reader who singled out "A Vermont Tale" for praise. It stands out in this volume as a forerunner for the type of controlled symbolism Helperin will later perfect. It really is, to use a hackneyed term, a "haunting" tale.
The title-piece of this collection, "Ellis Island," was the source of my biggest let-down.
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