Twilight Of The Superheroes Hardcover – Jan 26 2006
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From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Short-story master Eisenberg delivers, with signature intelligence and humor, six elegant, soulful new tales in her fifth book of stories. In a nuanced and compassionate family portrait, "Some Other, Better Otto," complex expressions of love and despair circle around a high-strung brother and his prodigiously talented, mentally ill sister. Several other stories also portray families pulling simultaneously apart while cleaving together, but each character and each motive is unique in Eisenberg's hands. The extraordinary, near–novella-length "Window" follows a young, naïve woman into a marginal, backwoods life with a secretive and dictatorial man who has business in arms dealing and a toddler son he's left in her care. The title piece is set in Manhattan around the events of 9/11 and focuses on the post-collegiate ennui of a group of 20-something friends facing an uncertain future. The author is at the top of her form delving into the varied but devastating truth that, even after an apocalypse, people still have to lie in the beds they've made, unable to sleep. A terrific addition to the oeuvre of one of America's finest and most deeply empathetic short story writers. (Feb.)
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"A masterly collection . . . Instead of forcing her characters' stories into neat, arbitrary, preordained shapes, Deborah Eisenberg allows them to grow organically into oddly shaped, asymmetrical narratives--narratives that possess all the surprising twists and dismaying turns of real life."--Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times
"Eisenberg's filament-thin weavings of desire, obligation, and missed opportunities remind one strongly of Henry James. . . . Eisenberg is a master of condensation and reconstruction, making beautiful murals from broken glass."--O, The Oprah Magazine
"Ambitious and resonant . . . Whether the subjects be lovely young girls grown old or waning superpowers, Eisenberg makes masterful short work out of marking their decline and fall."--NPR's Fresh Air
"The deepest pleasure in Ms. Eisenberg's stories is their vertiginous unpredictability, like obstacle courses the author jumps and rolls and shimmies through, clasping the reader to her like an infant. . . . These are fearless, fierce, light-bearing stories, offered in defense of what still matters."--The New York Observer
"Dazzling . . . Her distinctive voice and mastery of the short story elevate her to the ranks of kindred spirits like Gina Berriault, Alice Munro, and even Chekhov."--Time Out New York
"With every story in this superb new collection, Deborah Eisenberg, one of America's finest writers, offers new ways of seeing and feeling, as if something were being perfected at the core. The half dozen long stories here put her light years ahead of most story writers."--Alan Cheuse, San Francisco Chronicle
"Like other current masters of the short story--Joy Williams, Lycia Davis, Ben Marcus--Eisenberg works her own fertile ground so faithfully and assiduously that she brooks no comparison. She simply writes like no one else."--Lisa Shea, Elle
"He stories are so skillfully crafted that they seem composed more of shapes and textures than of printed words. Reading her makes you wish, as you study the family in front of you in the grocery line, that you could see their thoughts rendered as one of Eisenberg's stunning inner monologues"
--Judith Lewis, Los Angles Times
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
The author is an acquired taste who makes the reader work at understanding the motives and actions of her flawed but all-too-human characters -- this is not beach reading. For those who enjoy the craft of her story-telling, the reader is referred to last year's "Collected Stories of Deborah Eisenberg" and to 1996's "The Stories (So Far) of Deborah Eisenberg" -- the latter is the reprinting together of her first two books of stories while the former is a 'best of" collection from all her published works.
The title story, of course, says this the best. And as a 17-year-old who expects to reside one day in no place other than a city like New York, I finished it with tears in my eyes. Not because the story was dark, or polemic-sounding, which it was, but because, counter to those strides, there is empathy for the characters, and an underlying, godless faith that we as people will survive, continue to wake up in the morning and live the lives we make for ourselves. The world in which this story was written is not the world that existed ten years ago. This is a time of monumental change, and I welcome the recent movement of Post-9/11ism with open arms.
Here are six of her latest stories. If you are a fan of hers, here is your next fix. If you are new, you are in for a special delight. Here are characters living out their lives as best they can. They are limited by their own abilities, their own beliefs, their families, and basically the beds that they have made for themselves.
Ms. Eisenberg is provessor of fictional writing at the University of Virginia.
They're actually about something, too. This collection is her apotheosis as an artist (thus far); and she has
just won a well-deserved MacArthur "Genius" grant!