Ann Beattie: The New Yorker Stories

Ann Beattie, Essay by
Ann Beattie, Scribner, $30 (528p) ISBN 978-1439168745
Reviewed on: 01/10/2011
Release date: 11/01/2010
Open Ebook - 528 pages - 978-1-4391-6876-9
Paperback - 514 pages - 978-1-4391-6875-2
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Gathered in chronological order from 1974 to 1986, these early stories elucidate tension, suspicion, and the uneasy truces between married and divorced couples. Women are in flux and a general malaise settles over the urban dwellers or small town transplants, with notable departures. Though readers may be tempted to regard Beattie's characters as emblematic of their time, even as uniquely "American" in their self-involved, luxurious problems, they have weathered well and transcend easy classification. Beattie has mastered the tango between intelligent, sometimes perplexed individuals, allowing gradual, believable erosions to stand in place of high drama. "The Cinderella Waltz" draws an empathetic triangulation between the narrator, her ex-husband, and his current partner; "Home to Marie" offers a cruel take on unfulfilled expectations. Taken in full, these stories are taut evocations of separation and resignation, even as they reveal tenderness, and the best of them portray love and hatred not as intense polarities, but as tempered forces with fine gradations. (Nov.)
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