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"Nelson's prose is precise and energetic, and her insights delight because they manage to be at once surprising and so right as to seem inevitable. "--The New York Times Book Review. Antonya Nelson is widely regarded as one of America's most talented women writers --The New Yorker has named her one of the twenty best writers of her generation -- and with Female Trouble she returns to the short-story form with which she made her original literary mark. Thirteen wise, funny, and startlingly perceptive stories about the vagaries of marriage, the uncertainties of family, and the revelations of female life, Female Trouble looks at the relationships not just between men and women but also between parents and children, brothers and sisters. Probing the subjects of love, fidelity, desire, dependence, and solitude, Nelson explores the broad notion of family from myriad angles, but always with surprising insight and her trademark offbeat humor. The title story features a thirty-year-old man carrying on intimate relationships with three different women -- one institutionalized, one pregnant, one purely maternal -- but unable to commit to any of them. "Incognito" depicts a divorced woman whose turbulent teen years are suddenly brought back to her when she returns to her hometown with her own teenage daughter. In "The Unified Front," a husband reckons with his wife's decision to steal a baby while at a famous theme park, and in "Stitches," a disturbing late-night phone call forces a mother to confront her college-age daughter's sexuality and her own adulterous past. Set in the vividly rendered Southwest and Midwest, these moving stories are dark and honest portraits of people in moral quandaries, gray areas, unclear circumstances -- stories that reveal us to ourselves with disturbing clarity. As always, Nelson astounds with the clean, terse power of her language, and she deftly uses humor to expose the soft underbellies of her tough-talking, unblinking characters. These are stories that will linger in the reader's mind long after they are read.
One of the most award-winning, critically acclaimed story writers working today, Antonya Nelson has a list of accolades that is astonishing for any writer, but especially for one as young as she. With her newest collection, Nelson once again proves herself worthy of her stellar reputation, delivering seven taut, striking stories and a brilliant novella, all exploring the tensions of troubled family relations. Nelson is an extraordinary chronicler of the fraught relationships between parents and children and husbands and wives. With her particular understanding of the threats and vulnerabilities of wild adolescence, as well as the complicated, persistent love that often lies dormant beneath the drama of rebellion, she illuminates the hidden corners of her characters' lives. The shy, shoplifting sixteen-year-old protagonist in the title novella is trying to understand how to become an adult while going through a year of family disaster. We watch as she dabbles in the same adult behaviors that so repulse her about her parents (binge drinking, sex) while maintaining so much of her adolescent insecurity and confusion. "Dick" is a moving story about a mother who, having lost her daughter to the vicissitudes of adolescence, has a compulsion to protect her innocent, preadolescent son from the aggressive and encroaching post-9/11 adult world. The homeless teen at the heart of "Eminent Domain" is a pampered Houston rich girl who has, for her own reasons, taken to the streets. Radiating an emotional intensity that unifies the entire collection, each of Nelson's stories both captivates and unnerves. As her characters run the gauntlet of often bewildering family tensions and trauma, she alternates hope and despair, resentment and love, in perfectly recognizable proportions. Weaving wonderful observation with quick wit and striking insight, Some Fun is a timely and provocative inventory of the state of family in America -- and proof of why Nelson is one of the most important writers at work today.
Two men meet briefly in a hospital, where both are visiting their dying fathers. They speak again just a few months later, when one of them impulsively calls the other, a psychologist, and a friendship of sorts starts to form. After the psychologist leaves his wife a few weeks later, she begins to fall in love with his friend, creating a triangle that threatens to destroy all three and their families. The wife must decide between two very different men, whom she loves in very different ways. As the focus of the novel turns toward the woman in the middle, it becomes increasingly clear that whomever she chooses, the effect on the lives of everyone involved will be immeasurable. Regret, fear, grief, anger, anxiety, wistfulness, and yearning - these people's lives hang tenuously in the balance of their own conflicting emotions. With remarkable grace and acuity, Antonya Nelson examines two families in the midst of uncertainty and self-doubt, in a moving, resonant novel that displays the ful
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