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The Angel Esmeralda: Nine Stories
 
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The Angel Esmeralda: Nine Stories [Kindle Edition]

Don DeLillo
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Review

“A beautiful book for all time”—San Francisco Chronicle

“A vital addition to DeLillo’s corpus…expertly realized…The gods have equipped DeLillo with the antennae of a visionary. There is right field, and there is left field. He comes from third field—aslant, athwart. And I love The Angel Esmeralda: Nine Stories.”—Martin Amis, The New Yorker

“A terrific overview of [DeLillo’s] many strengths, from pitch-perfect character descriptions to surprising humor to soaring lyricism...The literary fireworks of the title piece alone are a stunning example of how the ordinary can become extraordinary in a gifted artist’s hands…Behold and be dazzled.”—Josh Emmons, People

“Many of [DeLillo’s] deceptively simple sentences will leave you awestruck…This slim volume is a marvel—a masterpiece of short fiction.”—Carmela Ciuraru, USA Today

“I was dazzled…Reading this collection confirms DeLillo as one of our very best short story writers…The richness of his work, the pleasures on offer—intellectual, visceral, poetic, comic—are unrivalled.”—Sam Lipsyte, author of The Ask

“Magnificent.”—Richard Eder, The Boston Globe

“[DeLillo’s] prose is masterly and austere…Even the most fragmentary of [the stories] provides the pleasure of reading the inimitably elegant sentences that DeLillo has been fashioning for four decades.”—Troy Jollimore, The Washington Post

“The typical DeLillo tale reads like a diagnosis of a zeitgeist malady we never knew we had, and in these stories the malady is one of spellbound fixation. DeLillo has achieved a very particular kind of greatness…and his gifts…are, for a contemporary American writer, unsurpassed.”—Charles Baxter, The New York Review of Books

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From one of the greatest writers of our time, his first collection of short stories, written between 1979 and 2011, chronicling—and foretelling—three decades of American life

Set in Greece, the Caribbean, Manhattan, a white-collar prison and outer space, these nine stories are a mesmerizing introduction to Don DeLillo’s iconic voice, from the rich, startling, jazz-infused rhythms of his early work to the spare, distilled, monastic language of the later stories.

In “Creation,” a couple at the end of a cruise somewhere in the West Indies can’t get off the island—flights canceled, unconfirmed reservations, a dysfunctional economy. In “Human Moments in World War III,” two men orbiting the earth, charged with gathering intelligence and reporting to Colorado Command, hear the voices of American radio, from a half century earlier. In the title story, Sisters Edgar and Grace, nuns working the violent streets of the South Bronx, confirm the neighborhood’s miracle, the apparition of a dead child, Esmeralda.

Nuns, astronauts, athletes, terrorists and travelers, the characters in The Angel Esmeralda propel themselves into the world and define it. DeLillo’s sentences are instantly recognizable, as original as the splatter of Jackson Pollock or the luminous rectangles of Mark Rothko. These nine stories describe an extraordinary journey of one great writer whose prescience about world events and ear for American language changed the literary landscape.

Product Details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 4491 KB
  • Print Length: 226 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: B005TJZCR8
  • Publisher: Scribner; Reprint edition (Nov. 15 2011)
  • Sold by: Simon & Schuster Canada, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0052A6FR0
  • Text-to-Speech: Not enabled
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  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #236,104 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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5.0 out of 5 stars Superb March 16 2014
By Mike
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
A brilliant collection from a great writer. These stories have all the humor, depth and sharp-eyed poignancy of DeLillo's best novels.
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Amazon.com: 3.7 out of 5 stars  32 reviews
40 of 46 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Microcosms Nov. 15 2011
By Tyler Jones - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
There is something fascinating and frightening about the way that Don DeLillo sees the world. It's not that he sees it differently than you or I, he sees it more clearly, he makes connections most of us don't dream of. For this reason he has been called "weirdly prophetic" about the millennial decades. For example, the World Trade Center Towers featured prominently as the site for terrorists attacks in more than one novel. How did he know that they would be a target almost 30 years prior to the events of 9/11? He looked at those Towers and saw something so monumental that they would have to come down, one way or another.

These stories span almost over 30 years of time, and DeLillo's writing has under gone many evolutions since then. I've read every single one of his books and many of these stories fit well into the spaces between novels.

I prefer not to summarize plots in my reviews, simply because I go into book and stories completely blind and discover it. I would hate to rob anyone of anything. So, I will say that one of the things I've always loved about DeLillo is the way he takes everyday events and infuses them with a sense of dread. We all get flat tires, or miss flights, or call a wrong number - but in the DeLillo world these things are signs of something much larger at work, even if it's never revealed the fear is felt.

DeLillo recently wrote a short story that was published in the New Yorker called "Midnight In Dostoyevsky," in which two young men follow a man in a strange coat. The act itself is fairly innocent, but the way Delillo writes it makes you wonder if the two boys are going to rob or murder the man in the coat.

The sentences are astonishing, as well as the words he uses, which aren't necessarily big and unpronounceable, but uncannily perfect for whatever he is describing.

My only complaints are I wish this book would have collected more of his stories and "The Angel Esmerelda" will be recognized by those of you who have read "Underworld," although it is a bit different, it still felt familiar. This is excellent reading for anyone who appreciates intelligent fiction, but in the end it just makes me want to go back and read his novels.
17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Smaller Themes But Big Rewards Dec 4 2011
By Doctor Moss - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This is Delillo's first collection of short stories. Underworld was a great book, a big book with big themes and long storylines. This brings him back to scale -- stories that allow him to focus on small, well-contained themes that you can take in and toss around in your mind without a lot of strain.

There are numerous themes in these stories, but the one that grabbed me most was a recurring one-sided way in which characters in the stories bridge the gulf between their own inner lives and those of other people, where they have only the external marks as evidence -- the way they walk, the expressions on their faces, the clothes they wear.

Delillo's characters often encounter each other through this kind of opaque externality, never directly interacting in conversation but constructing whole narratives of familiarity from the barest hints and great leaps of surmise. Leo Zhelezniak in The Starveling, follows, even stalks, a woman who seems to share his own alienated lifestyle, spending their days going from theatre to theatre in New York, watching movies in sequences coordinated with travel times and subway routes. He comes to "know" so much about her without ever talking to her, that he can cross the gulf between them on this bridge he's built entirely on his own, as if the familiarity and shared experience of life he has constructed is really there.

It's something we all do, just not so starkly as Zhelezniak, or the characters in Midnight in Dostoevsky who construct the life of "the man in the hooded coat". We have our daily encounters with one another, and we build our understandings of each other on what, in the full scope of our lives, are really only glimpses. But it is how we understand each other.

It's all a fragility that miraculously holds together, like the highway traffic Jerold Bradway watches in Hammer and Sickle. "Why don't they crash all the time?" he asks, watching cars speeding by under the separate control of distracted drivers, with little actual communication or coordination between them. Like Zhelezniak and other characters in these stories, Bradway looks at the drivers, wondering who they are and where they are going. And at the same time he thinks at least some of them are looking at him, wondering the same things.

When I read White Noise a long time ago, I thought it was one of the best novels I'd ever read. Since then I've made a point of reading everything I could get my hands on by Don Delillo. This is very different, but one of his best, I think.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good intro to DeLillo, but not his very best work Jan. 7 2012
By Federico (Fred) Moramarco - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
The Angel Esmeralda is a book I would recommend to readers unfamiliar with Don DeLillo's work because the stories were written over a 33 year period, the earliest,"Creation," from 1979 to the most recent, "The Starveling," (2011). The best of them, "Human Moments in World War III," "Hammer and Sickle," and "The Starveling," show us how DeLillo's work nearly always captures something about American life many of us miss. "Human Moments," for example juxtaposes the perspective of two astronauts orbiting the earth with the wars occurring all over the planet. In this quasi-sci-fi tale, nuclear war has been banned so that humanity can better fight conventional wars without destroying itself altogether. It's the astronauts' job to monitor these wars from above so that the belligerent activity doesn't get out of hand. Although published in 1979, the piece seems a parable about how we have become accustomed to a planetary landscape of continuing and continual wars. Ironically, the view of the entire planet, made possible by space travel, has not brought us together, but has given us the tools to observe how screwed up we are as a species. "Hammer and Sickle" takes us inside a prison "camp" for financial criminals, giving us a unique perspective on the current world economic meltdown. As always, DeLillo's style is dense and not for everyone, but you enjoy exercising your neurons and synapses, this is a must read.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Would be a good book to discuss Feb. 5 2012
By Jennifer Donovan - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
I like to say that I enjoy literary fiction, but in reality, I enjoy "popular literary fiction," -- well-written, with perhaps a bit of social commentary thrown in, but nothing too deep or esoteric. The Angel Esmeralda: Nine Stories by Don DeLillo, winner of the PEN/Faulkner prize and the National Book Award, is truly real literary fiction. So much so, that as I was reading the stories (listening to them actually), I wish that it was under the context of one of my college English classes. If your book club is more high-brow than mass-market, you might enjoy discussing these stories at one of your meetings.

I enjoyed the writing in each one of these stories, and even the brain-hurting part of dissecting some of them, but sometimes I just wanted a plot! Some of them delved into character and prose at the expense of plot.

The stories are not at all connected, but do have some similarities: a few, including the title story, are set in New York, and as with any good story set in New York, the city becomes part of the story. "The Starveling" was one of my favorite stories, though it was light on plot, in which a man spends his day seeing movie after movie -- taking to the streets of New York and using the subway maps to navigate from one showtime to the next.

"Hammer and Sickle" and "Midnight in Dostoevsky" each deal with institutions of a sort -- prison and a college campus. They also both nod to Russia, and were also stories that I enjoyed, because the characters completely came to life. What's more "Midnight in Dostoevsky" was especially effective in the audio version that I listened to, because of the plotline involving peppy TV hosts that the narrator really brought to life.

AUDIOBOOK NOTES: The 9 stories have 5 narrators: some male, some feamale; some reading only one story, and others appearing a second time. Each story is read wonderfully, and I think that listening to them as opposed to reading them made it more enjoyable. Because they are short stories (though some are fairly long "short" stories), I was able to keep the discs in my car and listen to one over a period of time without having to invest hours and hours on one novel, if that makes sense.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Terrific Collection Feb. 28 2012
By Ethan Cooper - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
DeLillo has divided the nine stories in this terrific collection into three units. These are:

o Part One: DeLillo examines odd couples in travel. In CREATION (1979), the couple is a predatory man with a feel for travel clichés and a woman that he befriends/exploits on an island in the Caribbean. There is sex but no intimacy as they helplessly await a connecting flight. In contrast, the couple in HUMAN MOMENTS IN WORLD WAR III (1983) is two astronauts in orbit around the earth, monitoring and enabling a three-week long war. Here, the young astronaut Vollman shows faint poetic inclinations but ordinary abilities and awareness. Meanwhile, the narrator is intensely and expressively original and seeks to suppress the nature of his job through mission discipline and jargon. The highlight of Part One: The spirited but methodical priming of a deadly laser.

o Part Two: In this unit, DeLillo examines three instances of hysteria. In THE RUNNER (1988), the hysteria arises from a bystander at a kidnapping, who imposes a false narrative on what she has witnessed. In THE IVORY ACROBAT (1988), hysteria haunts a woman who experiences two earthquakes. An ivory acrobat, referencing a time before the quakes, takes her outside her hysterical terror. Finally, THE ANGEL ESMERALDA (1994) shows the elderly Sister Edgar, a cold-war nun discombobulated by the ravages of drugs and poverty in the Bronx. Her hysteria takes the forms of germ phobia, obsessive and infinite regressive reasoning, and witness to a miracle of transcendence. The Highlights: Kyle experiences the terror of an earthquake; and Sister Gracie, chasing Esmeralda in an abandoned lot, is distracted by bats swirling from a crater filled with medical waste.

o Part Three: Here, DeLillo presents four stories about isolation. In BAADER-MEINHOFF (2002) he explores the creepy interaction between a live-alone woman who seems to seek helplessness and an aggressive man who is emotionally obtuse. In MIDNIGHT IN DOSTOYEVSKY (2009), a college student compulsively refines speculative narratives about strangers--"It would be my life's work. I would spend my life in a thought bubble, purifying the link."--while avoiding ordinary relationships. Meanwhile, HAMMER AND SICKLE (2010) examines a father in a minimum security prison who watches his daughters--ten and twelve years old--present the financial news in a parody TV program. Their content is an intense telegraphic concatenation of clichés, not information. Finally, THE STARVELING (2011) shows an isolated man trapped by routine and his obsession with movies. Highlights: EVERYTHING.

The final observation goes to the great Don, who is describing both the broadcast voice of Flory, a radio traffic reporter, and his own amazing and unmistakable literary style. "She spoke fantastically fast, words and key phrases expertly compressed into coded format..."

Highly recommended!
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