Lee Smith News of the Spirit

ISBN 13: 9780399142819

News of the Spirit

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9780399142819: News of the Spirit
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A collection of stories about imagination, longing, despair, and loving in all its strange and shifting forms includes the tales of Jenny, whose parents move to Key West to cure their marriage, and Charlene, who makes up an imaginary brother. 35,000 first printing.

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Review:

The warmhearted Southern women who narrate Lee Smith's latest collection of short stories share oddball sensibilities and an irrepressible urge to tell all. In fact, they are the friendliest, most garrulous bunch of liars, posers, and voyeurs you ever met. Although the young narrator in "Live Bottomless" habitually bicycles around town and peeks in windows, for instance, she feels little guilt about it. Instead, she congratulates herself for being such a go-getter: "It was amazing what you could see, especially if you were an athletic and enterprising girl such as myself." There is something very likeable about the young girl's optimism in the face of the sadness she witnesses at home and all across town.

Elsewhere, Smith explores the uses of storytelling itself. In the book's first piece, a college freshman tells her sorority sisters that she has a wild brother named Bubba just to make her life seem more exciting. It works, and lying becomes one of the aspiring writer's favorite pastimes. In "The Happy Memories Club," an old woman in a nursing home joins a writing group and shares the grim stories of her youth with the other members, shocking them. The stories don't make the old woman sad--in fact, reciting them seems to sustain her at a time when her health is declining rapidly. Lee Smith's stories are light but infectious, the kind of literary confections it's tempting to consume a handful at a time. Fans of Ellen Gilchrist and Bobbie Ann Mason are likely to enjoy these tales of strong, occasionally tipsy women and their wild, wild families. --Jill Marquis

From the Publisher:

"Delightful...comical...Smith never forgets that a great artist
makes her craft appear effortless. With News of the Spirit, she takes that
one step further: she appears to be having fun."

--Bookpage

"Smith's collection will not disappoint her fans."

--The New York Times Book Review

"Smith writes beautifully, evocatively and believably about women and
their feelings....What Smith doesn't write, what she leaves in the
tiny spaces between sentences, between narrative moments, is as important
as what she insists our attention be turned to....Above all, she
delights in storytelling, in the sounds of words and the ways that they
relate to meaning, to memory and to the mayhem we do to ourselves and
others, with the blessings thrown in that things can sometimes be made
whole to our advantage."

--Seattle Post-Intelligencer

"Smith excels at creating characters somewhat boggled by the reality of
who they've become."

--Publishers Weekly

"Smith writes affectionately of the small social distinctions between
working-class and middle-class southerners. Often at the center of her
stories is a woman with odd notions or airs, of which she must be
disabused, and her chatty narrators embrace a populace of lovable
eccentrics."

--Kirkus Reviews

"Lee Smith's fiction excels at exploring the domestic realms of the modern
South...with grace, wit and a crystalline style....The stories in
News of the Spirit are generous, cleverly crafted and sharper than a bass
boat full of razor blades."

--The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

"Smith's words rock along with a candor and easy innovation of another
time, another place, that is somehow familiar to everyone. I can think of
no book I've read in a long time that was so utterly enjoyable and, at the
same time, so completely provocative....As a writer, I envy her
talent. As a reader, I'm going to start looking for her other books."

--Houston Chronicle

"And above all, Smith's stories have a sense of place: Rising from them
are the dampness and fragrance of the South."

--Raleigh News & Observer

"You sit back in your swing on the veranda and let yourself feel the
subtle charm of her prose all the way to your fingertips, relaxing you
from the inside out like a cold mint julep on a humid summer afternoon.
The world seems to be turning a little slower, everything into focus just
a little bit sharper than before."

--Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

[She] entertains us with powerful honesty, her characters as authentic and
true to the spirit as the people who come and go in our lives any day of
the week. Lee Smith is a Southern writer, but her stories transcend
geographic boundaries. She crosses the demarcation lines so vividly that
it is easy to call her work universal, easy to lose oneself in the
perfectly pitched flow of her prose."

--Arkansas Democratic-Gazette

"Lee Smith's new book of stories, News of the Spirit, is as lovely as we
have come to expect of her. Part of its loveliness lies in her willingness
to write with as much abandon as her characters feel when their lives go
out of control. That has always been this author's most compelling
characteristic: to light the page with the violence and vehemence of human
emotion and to express those qualities in prose of crystalline purity and
clarity."

--Memphis Commercial Appeal

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Other Popular Editions of the Same Title

9780449002261: News of the Spirit (Ballantine Reader's Circle)

Featured Edition

ISBN 10:  0449002268 ISBN 13:  9780449002261
Publisher: Ballantine Books, 1998
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