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9780307949295

The News from Spain (Vintage Contemporaries)

Wickersham, Joan

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A San Francisco Chronicle and NPR Best Book of the Year
The author of the acclaimed memoir The Suicide Index returns with a virtuosic collection of stories, each a stirring parable of the power of love and the impossibility of understanding it. Spanning centuries and continents, from eighteenth-century Vienna to contemporary America, Joan Wickersham shows, with uncanny exactitude, how we never really know what's in someone else's heart--or in our own.

Review :

Best Books of 2012, NPR, San Francisco Chronicle, Kirkus Reviews
Wise and courageous and often brilliant...breaks new ground in our perceptions of what a short story can be. Wonderfully imaginative and original. - Boston Globe
An ode to heartbreak and regret...Wickersham's gift is for capturing the habits of mind that lead even smart people to deceive themselves...her book makes you slow down and listen, and then watch for people to reveal themselves. - New York Times Book Review
Elegantly structured, emotionally compelling...Short stories don't get much better than this. - Kirkus Reviews

Do not mistake Wickersham's exquisitely polished prose for good manners. Although she writes with a vintage grace...she is brutal and funny too...Divine. - San Francisco Chronicle
Virtuosic...Wickersham [takes an] emotional cannonball into every single one of her characters. The doubts and tenderness they share are ones that only the finest fiction can create. - Oprah.com Book of the Week

Wickersham makes a triumphant return to fiction...articulates subtleties of human behavior that ordinarily elude language altogether. - Elle

Munro's and Wickersham's books are at the top of this year's pile. - Chicago Tribune
So moving it will close your throat. - LA Times
The prose is beautiful, and you feel those characters like real people. - Cheryl Strayed
A master of the written word and storytelling in all its forms. - BookPage
Joan Wickersham has done it again: astonished, enchanted, and moved me. -   Julia Glass
Gorgeous, completely original...As soon as I finished it, I began to read it again. - Andre Gregory

As skilled as Alice Munro in maneuvering her characters, and the reader, through time...Highly recommended. - Library Journal

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Product Description:

A San Francisco Chronicle and NPR Best Book of the Year

The author of the acclaimed memoir The Suicide Index returns with a virtuosic collection of stories, each a stirring parable of the power of love and the impossibility of understanding it. Spanning centuries and continents, from eighteenth-century Vienna to contemporary America, Joan Wickersham shows, with uncanny exactitude, how we never really know what’s in someone else’s heart—or in our own.

Review:

Ann Packer for Joan Wickersham’s The News from Spain

Ann Packer is the author of two bestselling novels, Songs Without Words and The Dive from Clausen’s Pier, as well as two collections of short fiction, Mendocino and Other Stories and, most recently, Swim Back to Me. Her stories and essays have appeared in The New Yorker, The Washington Post, Vogue, and Real Simple. She lives in northern California with her family.

On the cover of this glorious book, in type smaller than the evocative and alluring title, are the words “7 Variations on a Love Story,” letting you know even before you start reading that you are holding a work of fiction that defies easy categorization. The News from Spain is a collection of stories about love—between wives and husbands, parents and children, caregivers and those in their care, friends, lovers—and the seemingly limitless ways it confounds, fails, confuses, surprises and enriches us. Wickersham’s prose is crystalline and elegant, and her insights into the hearts and minds of her characters confirm her place as one of our very best observers of human behavior.

But what’s new and marvelous about this book is the way the stories work together to form a gorgeous whole, much like the separate movements of a symphony build to something even greater than the sum of its beautiful parts. Each story here is called “The News from Spain” and each contains some news from Spain—literal news in the case of a woman left behind while her husband travels, metaphorical in the case of a man and a woman late at night on a beach listening to a seashell. In addition to that phrase, Wickersham uses many of the same motifs from one story to the next, so that as you make your way through the book you discover again and again a couple in the midst of a betrayal, say, or an invalid in a pas de deux with a caregiver. An action as simple as taking a bath, a detail like rice pudding…these take on a luminous significance as you encounter them in a variety of contexts, like an object with many facets turned this way and that and with each turn refracting light in a slightly different way. As soon as you finish the book you want to read it again, partly to study its exquisite patterns and partly to repeat the pleasure of reading such assured and graceful prose.

Ever since Wickersham’s novel The Paper Anniversary I had waited for her next work of fiction. The News from Spain is the enthralling follow-up to that earlier work, and now I’m waiting again for whatever she writes next.

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