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McSweeney's Issue 15 Hardcover – Jan 25 2005
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
The "local" stories are 8/10, including Steven Millhauser's nonfiction piece about the unknown first film-maker of all time, Roy Kesey's story of a man falling in love with a mugger in Paraguay, Judy Budnitz's story of a couple trapping salesmen in their backyard, Benjamin Rosenbaum's story of a man falling in unrequited love with an elephant, Eric Hanson's hilarious portrait of Stalin's brutality, Seth Fried's story of a disaster-prone family and Jimmy Chen's short short. Best is Padgett Powell's "Manifesto," where two young men discuss how to earn the respect of the "codgers." The two duds are care of Roddy Doyle and Kiara Brinkman, whose stories are generic and banal.
Then there are the Icelandic stories, which are 2/9. I had trouble with these. Most seemed trifling or tedious, either just describing weird things or detailing the commonest daily occurrences and that's it. They often reminded me of all the other things I could be reading instead. Exceptions are Guðbergur Bergsson's frequently quotable, deeply introspective piece, and Andri Snær Magnason's story of radioactive wave interference.
I will say that the Icelandic stories are jarring, and that effect--being jarred by an entirely different type of writing--is welcome. The strangeness of the style may be reason enough to give this volume a chance: the more unusual the stories are, the more varied personal opinion of them will be.
I enjoyed every one, but particularly "Uninvited" which is written from a naughty child's perspective. Bravo.
The stories by Icelandic authors are quite vivid and a little unorthodox compared to some of the stories Americans would write....I enjoyed every one! A definite must-have for the short-story reader or collector.
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