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In this powerful and virtuosic collection of interlocking stories, a National Book Critics Circle Award finalist takes the form to new heightsIn his orchestral and moving new book, Peter Orner, a writer who doesn t simply bring his characters to life, he gives them souls New York Times Book Review , chronicles people whose lives are at inflection points In forty four compressed gems, he grips us with a series of defining moments Whether it s a first date that turns into a late night road trip to a s ance in an abandoned airplane hangar, or a family s memories of the painful mystery surrounding a forgotten uncle s demise, Orner reveals how our fleeting decisions between kindness and abandonment chase us across time These stories are anchored by a poignant novella that delivers not only the joys and travails of a forty year marriage, but an entire era in small town New England Bristling with the crackling energy of life itself, Maggie Brown Others marks the most sustained achievement to date for a master of his form New York Times Peter Orner has been a favorite since I discovered him years ago via his novel Love Shame Love But this is the first of his collections that I have read in a long time and I wonder what took me so long This collection is divided into sections each containing a series of linked stories, all connecting in some manner to Orner s own life in some way He came of age in Chicago, went to University in Michigan, lived for a while in northern California and currently teaches in New England Dartmouth, Peter Orner has been a favorite since I discovered him years ago via his novel Love Shame Love But this is the first of his collections that I have read in a long time and I wonder what took me so long This collection is divided into sections each containing a series of linked stories, all connecting in some manner to Orner s own life in some way He came of age in Chicago, went to University in Michigan, lived for a while in northern California and currently teaches in New England Dartmouth, to be specific But whereas the stories tie together, they are each meaty and rich despite their brevity He recently said that a story doesn t need to be bloated into a novel in order to be effective, that the amount of words necessary to tell a story need not be excessive True With his talent at brevity with punch, like George Saunders and Tobias Wolfe, he is one of the masters of the craft 4.5 rating REVIEW TO FOLLOW some of the shortest shortest stories I ve ever read AND I LIKED THEM A few were sooooo outstanding it was worth the whole enchilada Buddy read with Violet UPDATE review It s pretty obvious that short stories are structured differently than novels, which is apparent in Maggie Brown Others Regardless the length or crafting style, what s important to me, is that I feel something I did I felt lots of somethings.Peter Orner s words of authenti 4.5 rating REVIEW TO FOLLOW some of the shortest shortest stories I ve ever read AND I LIKED THEM A few were sooooo outstanding it was worth the whole enchilada Buddy read with Violet UPDATE review It s pretty obvious that short stories are structured differently than novels, which is apparent in Maggie Brown Others Regardless the length or crafting style, what s important to me, is that I feel something I did I felt lots of somethings.Peter Orner s words of authenticity about the joys and pain in our world reveal how intimately cruelty and kindness unfold These stories show different streams of life experience both splendid and irreparably sad Many of the stories focus on the characters inability to see themselves accurately or their past failures Memory feels precious, important, and fragile It s the characters visions of their past which manifest as suffering losses in their present Writing a review for 44 short stories and a novella from a writer of extraordinary gifts is tricky business ha A few of the stories knocked me on my ass.Such as Ineffectual Tribute to Len He d been my boss at summer camp He was one of those people who pop up randomly And change everything, you can t imagine any story of your life, lame as it might be, told without them Len was one of the first people to notice something, anything in me Len s loyalty to camp was so strong that even when he was breaking the rules, and he spent his days breaking camp s rules, it was his way of respecting loving the institution for instituting the rules in the first place As much as Len talked, and he talked and talked, I always thought that at the root, beneath the ceaseless cascade of stories, exhortations, bullshit, sayings, advice, encouragement, teasings, there was a silence He rarely got personal, and when he did, it hadto do with something he wanted us to understand than something he wanted to tell us about himself I loved the man The want wasn t entirely delusional I wanted people who never knew Len to remember him Does this make any sense There is muchto this story leaving out spoilers But.It was my favorite THIS NEXT STORY MADE ME LAUGH Gus s Highland Spa Two old geezers were shooting the breeze Can t there be a day of nothing else No Jews, Alf says No Jews what Walt says No Jew ever wrote a history of Fall River Written or unwritten That s true But why would they Alf says Not our town Never has been, never will be I m born here, I ll die here, Walt says It s not my town No to this story It felt good to laugh THIS NEXT STORY kinda made me ache Erwin and Pauline Erwin never recounted any memories himself But when someone else told a story, he d say, softly, I I do remember that, I do Then he d go home and fall back into the life he lived, back to that apartment off Irving Park Road, back to his rounds at the high school And the family remain grateful, grateful that he was still able to hold down a job, still able to care for himself Erwin was a little slow just a little slow I m leaving out parts of this story on purpose but Pauline enters A woman who ends up teaching at Interlochen Arts School in Michigan the same school our daughter attended..I felt sad joy sad again THIS STORY GOT ME IN MY FRICKIN GUTS Anger The Captain For me this was the most painful stories of the bunch A man in his 30 s a High School English teacher sold drugs on the side One night two High School Juniors were invited into his house THIS STORY DID NOT MOVE IN THE DIRECTION I THOUGHT.The narrator of the story asks Why is the Captain on the couch sleepingvivid to me than some of the people I see every day We knew that, whatever happened, we wouldn t be caught dead begging anybody s crumbs into our thirties At least that much had been drummed into us Our mothers had whispered we d be kings Of what if didn t matter.I won t saybut..NO OTHER STORY MAKES ME MORE ANGRY than this one TONSstories and a moving novella EXCELLENT collection Read about relationships, marriages, divorce, miscarriage, infidelity, stoners, aging, illness, physical and mental , love, lies, secrets, friendships, loss, memories, abuse, mediocrity, sins, regrets, ordinary and extraordinary, trials and tribulations, Fall Creek, Massachusetts, California, Chicago, Michigan, wives, ex wives, music, Maggie May by Rod Stewart, The 60 s, 70 s, 80 s, etc.longings, death contemporary life human frailties memorable characters a small town engaging dialogue insightful with much to reflect on This was my first time reading Peter Orner I plan to readof his work His short stories about humanity tragedy and sadness have glimpses of hope and happiness, too My spirits were simply lifted by the experience of truth I m happy to share this was a buddy read with Violet Adding pleasure to the joy of reading At times many times I was imagining Violet reading her book in the UK I love reading with Violet and can t wait to read her review She and I will continue chatting about these stories the themes the moods etc One last thought came out of my reading this book what IS the big difference between short stories and novels anyway And which books novels have had the BEST ENDINGS And why does it feel as if the endings in short stories matter less to me than in novels Just something I m thinking about Peter Orner.Happy to be a new fan Real Rating 4.5 of fiveAll the stars, all the stripes, all the band fanfares for Walt Kaplan is Broke A Novella The Chicago stuff, Lighted Windows, not so much the thematic unity there was love, looking for love, running into it without meaning to, and that s pretty much why short stories get a bad rap from most folks because, in the end, who friggin cares Renters A Sequence was affecting as a group of minor stories, cohesive in their central theme of exploring the disaster and misery of Real Rating 4.5 of fiveAll the stars, all the stripes, all the band fanfares for Walt Kaplan is Broke A Novella The Chicago stuff, Lighted Windows, not so much the thematic unity there was love, looking for love, running into it without meaning to, and that s pretty much why short stories get a bad rap from most folks because, in the end, who friggin cares Renters A Sequence was affecting as a group of minor stories, cohesive in their central theme of exploring the disaster and misery of a marriage foundering under the skyscraper tall waves of mental illness the issue for me, the reason it wasn t as rock me back beautiful as Walt Kaplan was, was that the characters were sketched in thin, spidery lines instead of bold, dark strokes.The Cali stuff, Come Back to California, was okay, I guess, but not excellent the way the Fall River, Mass, Jews in Castaways were Startlingly rich and layered characterizations in quite compact stories, so compact as to be fleeting in some cases The best single story in the book is in this section Bernard A Character Study was a peak read for me, a simple and direct evocation of a simple and direct person s time on this Earth.The micro ness of the fictions works best in the novella They are a perfect meal made of tapas, orchestrated to present a dozen views of the tale they each have a flavor impact outsized to their physical page presence, but contribute their unique qualities to a whole and satisfying conclusion to one s story hunger And think of the 60s, when the whole country got a little wilder and we joined in and did it twice a night You remember, Sar Now twice a night would be like rising from the dead, but history is history, and if not set down on paper it should at least be ruminated upon Sarah and Walt Kaplan, one night,than once, two entirely separate fornications.Now, for a philosophical as well as a practical question Why didn t we just push the beds together and leave them there Ah, because that would be a lie, no The nature of the reaching, the nature of the whispered entreaties, a thousand variations on the same invitation, is that both reaching of the hands and the question in question invariably lead to moments of complete incompleteness Because the upshot of coupling is uncoupling The essence of association is disassociation Because you can fuck till you re blue, but at a certain point the inevitable nightly drawing apart happens for good, am I right or am I right Spell it out again the retreat once again to separate beds attains a cementation that precludes any further you wannas After a certain point you wannais no longer an invitation for rumpus it s a cry from oblivion.It s to your taste, or it isn t but it is beautiful In one of his stories, the author has his narrator say this Horizons can t ever be reached no matter how many words you lard on a novel The attempt at closure is inherently dishonest That s true but the magic of every brilliant novel is that it creates the illusion in time that it isn t true So, there s something a bit shifty about this declaration, especially as it s the impetus for the abbreviated form of the countless stories in this volume Few stories arethan a couple of pages In one of his stories, the author has his narrator say this Horizons can t ever be reached no matter how many words you lard on a novel The attempt at closure is inherently dishonest That s true but the magic of every brilliant novel is that it creates the illusion in time that it isn t true So, there s something a bit shifty about this declaration, especially as it s the impetus for the abbreviated form of the countless stories in this volume Few stories arethan a couple of pages long Isolated moments in a life, often at a point where the life in question stalled Recently I read a number of unfinished stories by Katherine Mansfield They too were like snapshots of stories And they were unfinished because she never quite found the inspiration to complete them There s often the feeling a similar problem was besetting Peter Orner He can write very well and there s some fabulous one liners And had this book consisted of only the first hundred or so pages I would have found it interesting as an experiment But over 300 pages of these two page stories began to seem like obstinate self indulgence, a writer trying to fight his way out of writer s block And his subject, the stalled life, often seemed like a mirror image of his own dilemma as a stalled writer I was excited to see there was a novella towards the end of this book I assumed I d now be privy to what he can do with an extended narrative What ensued was pretty much the same technique extended with the same characters which bored me to the point of abandoning it half way This was a buddy read with Elyse who enjoyed itthan I did no doubt helped by her greater familiarity with the locations and social milieus this is a very esoterically American book There s enough here to make me curious about what he might do with a novel but these attempts to find a new form for the short story made me think of an architect designing countless porticos bereft of any complimentary building