Manual The Collected Stories of Amy Hempel

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For readers who have known Hempel's work for decades and for those who are just discovering her, this indispensable volume contains all the stories in Reasons to Live , At the Gates of the Animal Kingdom , Tumble Home , and The Dog of the Marriage. No reader of great writing should be without it.

She lives near New York City.

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Visit Seller's Storefront. Please contact me if you are not satisfied with your order in any manner. I always list book by ISBN only and buyer is assured of correct edition, correct author and correct format of book. Name of your business and form of legal entity: Ami Ventures Inc.

Orders usually ship within 1 business days. If your book order is heavy or oversized, we may contact you to let you know extra shipping is required. List this Seller's Books. Payment Methods accepted by seller. AbeBooks Bookseller Since: May 31, Stock Image. Published by Scribner, Used Condition: Used: Good Soft cover. And, again, what is so dramatic about the elliptical break? Where are rhythm and ambiguity? Certainly not in that bald ending. And, I ask, is this a great sentence?

How about this? Ok, so we see that the claims for the great talents of Hempel are just that, claims meant to adorn book covers to sell books to the gullible. Of course, Hempel gets even shorter and worse, as the book goes on. Here is the whole word long In The Animal Shelter :. Every time you see a beautiful woman, someone is tiring of her, so the men say. But there is seldom an adoption; it matters that the women have someone to leave, leaving behind the lovesome creatures who would never leave them, had they once given them their hearts.

Inarguably, this is the worst of the three tales in toto.

‎The Collected Stories of Amy Hempel on Apple Books

Again, where are the great sentences? The opener is a nice idea, but not a well crafted sentence. It lacks any insight, any depth, and, in truth, this is really an ending for a story, not a whole story. But, only if better written, and void of the sentimentality and triteness.

Continuing in this vein of declivity and brevity, here is the 43 word sentence cum paragraph cum tale, Housewife :.


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Perhaps, rather than the trite title, Hempel might have shown an ounce of humor or creativity and called the piece Tribute To Catherine Deneuve. Just once in my life- oh, when have I ever wanted anything just once in my life? The truth is that there are hundreds, if not thousands or tens of thousands of talentless Amy Hempels littering creative writing courses across the land. Even in tales that are the conventional length of most short stories, Hempel has no ability to create interesting characters, asides, nor dialogue.

They are all just monotonously repeated slight variations on a persona, forced into the sorts of unreal and melodramatic situations that only occur in bad literary fiction, not real life. As example, Pool Night follows a character that, at a party, sets himself aflame. Well, because without that act the tale has no point to exist. But, what lesson is learned by reading of a fifth rate Holden Caulfield wannabe party animal dumb enough to torch himself? Here is its ending:. I know that homes burn and that you should think what to save before they start to. Not because, in the heat of it, everything looks as valuable as everything else.

But because nothing looks worth the bother, not even your life. And not an example of a laudable sentence, either. And, is this all the summative power and wisdom that Hempel can invoke? Yet, not even that tendency is not the worst Hempel can sink to. As mentioned, many of the scenes are straight out of Penthouse Letters , like the yuppy fantasy tale, Offertory , predicated on sexual threesomes and porno films. A sample:. I could fuck the husband if the wife was also present.

The wife could, whenever she wanted, fuck either one of us — her choice: together or alone. The husband needed no rules, both we women felt, because, we also seemed to feel, we would have no idea where to start in the drawing up of them.

And how about this sentence, one straight from the Penthouse Letters style of writing:. The point is that this is all done with seriousness, and not a hint of mockery nor knowing criticism. Would that Hempel paid as much attention to her writing as she does her glossies.

In the Cemetery Where Al Jolson is Buried - Amy Hempel - Literary Roadhouse Ep 23

The dialogue is unreal and smacks of a tin ear, there is virtually no forward action, and there is no real cogitation of sketching out of the inner terrain of the characters. Ok, they have a point. There is a difference. That term is often tossed at any writer or artist whose work is brief. But, brevity is not synonymous with Minimalism, for Minimalism is not a lack of features, but those features stripped to essentials. She is simply a writer lacking in descriptive, narrative, and insightful powers. To put that in the most accessible form possible, this lack is exactly why Hempel is such a generic and forgettable writer.

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Yet, because people like her are praised as well as, for different reasons, equally bad writers like Eggers, Lahiri, Oates, etc. At least insofar as the merits of their writing vs. In a just world, someone like Hempel would never have gotten into print. Then again, perhaps her cocksmoking lips are her best asset! But, there is an even gloomier aspect to her writing.

As bad as she is in the small, her longer tales are worse, because they are pointless, and she rambles on without even the need to descend into another Henny Youngman one liner, which, as bad as they are, are still better than unmoored narratives. Here is a roll call of some of the worst tales. The Harvest is a tale of surgery, after a motorcycle accident, and litigation and digresses to fishing for abalone, and the rise of shark attacks. I leave a lot out when I tell the truth. The same when I write a story. There was no other car.

There was only the one car, the one that hit me when I was on the back of the man's motorcycle. But think of the awkward syllables when you have to say motorcycle. The driver of the car was a newspaper reporter. He worked for a local paper. He was young, a recent graduate, and he was on his way to a labor meeting to cover a threatened strike. In addition to being a beauty, the girl was worth millions of dollars. The great white sharks in the waters near my home attack one to seven people a year. Their primary victim is the abalone diver.

With abalone stakes at thirty-five dollars a pound and going up, the Department of Fish and Game expects the shark attacks to show no slackening. Not particularly good, nor bad, just like most of the tale. There simply seems little point for the tale, save to show that Hempel is PoMo in her ability to reference her own story within the story. Original, eh? Here is how it ends:.

I play back everything that has happened to me before this. I want to ask Big Guy if he is doing this, too.

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Perhaps, if done well. The Uninvited follows a fifty year old woman takes a pregnancy test after being raped. Note, too, how void it is of real characters and real dramas. In the tale, The Center , which is only two pages long, an online critic rhapsodizes on the fact that Hempel changes the seeming arc of the tale midway, from a friend of the narrator to a dog named Pal, which was named after an earlier dog, and ends with a legend about why men and dogs are compatible.

Yet, it is solid not because of any literary trick- a narrative feint is something many writers use, and to assert that it is is simply a display of a lack of knowledge about narrative. Just recall the Alfred Hitchcock film Psycho. A third of the way into it, we believe the seeming lead character is played by Janet Leigh, until she is killed by Anthony Perkins, the real filmic and narrative lead. Amy Hempel is dangerous. Well, of course, no, Davey Boy.

And note the list of hacks he ticks off- almost all very bad writers themselves. Perhaps the worst trait Hempel has, of many, is that she seems to believe that telling bad jokes, displaying them as bad jokes, and then expecting their knowing badness to somehow amuse readers, is somehow a way to convey character traits. The girl gave her brother a look you could iron clothes with. Then her gaze dropped down. Her brother zipped his pants back up.

The executioner let the blade go. Again, why is there a break needed? And, the Belgian-French angle is not particularly relevant, even when the characters tell us that fact- ooh, more PoMo! But, if that was not bad enough, here is the dull end of the tale:. Which do you want first? It was his daughter who spoke. The father smiled. They are all right, he decided. My kids are as right as this rain.

He smiled at the exact spots he knew their heads were turned to his, and doubted he would ever feel- not better, but more than he did now. Can you hear the crash of the Henny Youngman cymbals? And the overall triteness of the situation, and the way that triteness is banally phrased- eegh! Of course, bad endings are a Hempel staple.

Forget anything that went on in the tale before this ending to In A Tub , just read how badly it is phrased. Here is what you do. You ease yourself into a tub of water, you ease yourself down. You lie back and wait for the ripples to smooth away. Then you take a deep breath, and slide your head under, and listen for the playfulness of your heart. Perhaps Hallmark has a winner, should Maya Angelou ever give up the ghost! In Offertory , a woman tells tall tales to her lover of her sexual encounters with a married couple as a young woman. I had a past, and my past contained a marriage and a job and friends.

But I had long since dispensed with his past. I had spent the year before moving to the lake at a place where people recover from the bad things that seek them out. For the time I was there, I wrote to this man although, or because, I had met him only once, and because I felt our talk had been not an exchange of words, but of souls. Now, read this:. I read about a famous mystery writer who worked for one week in a department store.

One day she saw a woman come and buy a doll.


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  • That was all. Years later, she referred to this woman as the love of her life. An unnamed speaker recalls visiting a dying friend also nameless , and having to wear a mask when seeing her. They blather on about the inconsequentials of life and exchange mediocre anecdotes. There are, again, some accidental moments that could have led to depth and revelation- the same sort of accidents as described above. Then the tale ends in melodramatic banality, as Hempel again shows that she does not understand an old maxim of mine: Greater than transcendence is its recognition.

    Hempel even unwittingly admits that she has no idea what it takes to create writing of excellence. Point, point, point, point. Then, why should she, when she has so many moronic and servile acolytes like Moody and Palahniuk? Hempel, at root, and again, is a gimmick writer, not a Minimalist, nor a stylist in full control of her powers, for she has little in the way of descriptive gifts, no ear for dialogue, and no real understanding of the way real people act. And it is the ability to attach that sort of reality to fiction that is the hallmark of a great prose writer.

    This sort of claim- be it for a David Foster Wallace or Donald Barthelme or Amy Hempel, would have a bit more heft if they ever displayed even a minor knack for that aspect of writing. Not that that would erase the artistic loss of a lack of narrative in any particular tale just as the pukings of a Jackson Pollock or the monochrome canvases of a Mark Rothko are not made into real art by the fact that they were capable of figurative rendering , but it would add credibility to the claim; and by narrative I certainly do not mean A to B to C obviousness, but any solid narrative technique.

    The tale is punctuated not with the bad joke about three popes, but by its never being told, nor even getting a glimpse into the act, itself.