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The Middle Stories [Hardcover]

Sheila Heti
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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Kindle Edition CDN $9.99  
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Paperback CDN $10.79  

Book Description

April 1 2001
Balancing wisdom and innocence, joy and foreboding, each story in The Middle Stories leads us to surprising places. A frog doles out sage advice to a plumber infatuated with a princess, a boy falls hopelessly in love with a monkey, and a man with a hat keeps apocalyptic thoughts at bay by resolving to follow a plan that he admits he won't stick to. Globe and Mail critic Russell Smith has described Heti's stories as cryptic fairy tales without morals at the end, but really the morals are in the quality of the telling and in the details disclosed along the way. Look where you weren't going to look, think what you wouldn't have thought, Heti seems to say, and meaning itself gains more meaning, more dimensions. Heti's stories are not what you expect, but why did you expect that anyway?

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Product Description

From Amazon

Sheila Heti's The Middle Stories is a pillow book for fashionable young urban sophisticates. The flitting stories in this collection of faux fairy tales and contemporary fables are told in an intelligent, coy voice, echoing the sort of English children's book that recounts the adventures of young aristocrats-to-be named Cyril or Enid. The Middle Stories are, however, modern and squarely North American, replete with drink, casual sex, postmodern ennui, and bouts of consumerism. Some of The Middle Stories fall into a fairy-tale universe, mixing princesses and talking frogs with luckless, depressed plumbers. Others roam through more pedestrian settings like house parties, campuses, and too-small apartments, but these stories, too, read like fables or even cautionary tales, and one almost expects to find a moral appended to one or two of them.

Heti's contemporary grown-up bedtime stories bear more than a passing resemblance to Douglas Coupland's more playful moods, particularly some of the stories told by the characters in Generation X or the pieces collected in Life After God. Heti's stories represent a younger generation, though, and have no truck with Coupland's dread and pathos, donning a veneer of unconcern instead. Heti is at her best when she allows the satirical undercurrents of her fables to dominate, and in stories like "The Poet and the Novelist as Roommates" and "The Miss and Sylvia and Sam" she can be wickedly funny. The Middle Stories is not a book to be read cover to cover--the persistently ingenuous voice makes this impossible--but it is a pleasant and witty dabbler's pastime. --Harvey Cornell

Review

... hilarious, occasionally Seinfeldesque and frequently veer into Grimm Brotherland, fantastic, gruesome and creepy. (Jennifer Hunter Toronto Star 2012-08-11) --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

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4.3 out of 5 stars
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Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars disturbing yet understated nightmares May 1 2003
Format:Paperback
Heti's series of short stories were incredibly surreal yet wholly believable.The undercurrent running throughout is the same one you would expirence in a nightmare where nothing blood-and-guts horrible occurs, but you feel a building sense of or horror anyway. It is disquieting, unsettling, sometimes strangely funny, and I was hooked. For some reason parts of the book reminded me of a Dali painting. This is also one of the few books I've seen who's cover is just as innovative as the stories themselves.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Heti is the real deal April 1 2003
Format:Paperback
the OilCan has to give it up for McSweeney's. This collection will wake you out of your obviously humdrum life. The stories are fantastic and will stay with you long after the reading process is done. O Canada
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What a find! April 6 2007
Format:Paperback
I really enjoyed these short stories. Very moving, thought provoking, and insightful. This book will keep you thinking. It visualizes scenes from modern life with superb finesse.

It is a relatively quick read but also it is thrill to read, so I suggest you pace it out, and enjoy it with a cup of tea and some chocolate. Some of the stories are mildly depressing, but that is counterbalanced by the enthusiasm of the writer.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 3.1 out of 5 stars  7 reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars loved it Aug. 10 2013
By number23 - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
all the great things you've heard about sheila heti are true -- she's one of the best living contemporary canadian novelists out there
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing. Feb. 24 2013
By Momentai - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I love these stories! They are weird, strange, bizarre, quirky, compelling, evocative, and speak to me. Shelia has a way with words that makes you feel like you are a part of the tales and as if the narrarator is speaking directly to you, in the room with you. Miss heti is very talented. She is not afraid to be weird and I like that in an author.

And yes, these short stories are not typical. There is a distinct feel to them. Whether it is the non-linear aspect of some or what, I can't say. Like I mentioned before, they spoke to me. They are not for everyone, most people will find them boring or too "artsy" for their liking. Please, give them a chance. Open yourself up to a different perspective.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars disturbing yet understated nightmares May 1 2003
By K. Palla - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Heti's series of short stories were incredibly surreal yet wholly believable.The undercurrent running throughout is the same one you would expirence in a nightmare where nothing blood-and-guts horrible occurs, but you feel a building sense of or horror anyway. It is disquieting, unsettling, sometimes strangely funny, and I was hooked. For some reason parts of the book reminded me of a Dali painting. This is also one of the few books I've seen who's cover is just as innovative as the stories themselves.
3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Heti is the real deal April 1 2003
By OilCanBoyd - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
the OilCan has to give it up for McSweeney's. This collection will wake you out of your obviously humdrum life. The stories are fantastic and will stay with you long after the reading process is done. O Canada
2 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Whimsical but Slight Jan. 11 2007
By Ichthyornis - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Stories that reimagine fairy tales, stories that take odd surrealistic turns, and yet these felt slight to me, not fully imagined, but abandoned.
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