The Self-Made Brain Surgeon and Other Stories

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9780803273191: The Self-Made Brain Surgeon and Other Stories

These thirteen short stories represent Mark Harris’s distinguished work in this genre from 1946 to 1993. They were undertaken at a time when the author was becoming famous as a novelist for such triumphs as Bang the Drum Slowly and The Southpaw. Although Harris loves and writes tellingly about the pleasures of baseball, his primary subject has always been the human condition and the shifts of mortal men and women as they try to understand and survive what life has dealt them. While baseball is virtually absent from the stories in this collection, Harris’s gift for the wry appreciation of human variety is never lacking. The pleasure we take in these stories reminds us why Harris ranks as one of this age’s most perceptive and satisfying writers.

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About the Author:

Mark Harris (1922-2007) is the author of a famous quartet of baseball novels—including Bang the Drum Slowly—as well as Something about a Soldier, Speed, and The Talemaker. All are available as Bison Books. Jon Surgal is a writer and critic. His father introduced him to baseball and the work of Mark Harris.

From Publishers Weekly:

In a witty, buoyant collection, Harris (Bang the Drum Slowly) turns away from the favorite topic of his novelsAbaseballAand proves himself a masterful diagnostician of the heart and mind. Told with black humor, the title story concerns a crackpot grocer who moonlights as a self-styled "brain surgeon" by dispensing impromptu psychotherapy to stifled individuals. The narrative speaks of the enormous emotional hole in people's lives, and of the human propensity to indulge hypocrisy and to trust charlatans promising instant cures. "The Iron Fist of Oligarchy," a sly, wisecracking gem set in the early days of television, charts the meteoric rise of an obscure Midwestern radio host who becomes a TV star by imitating a dog's bark. "At Prayerbook Cross" lays bare the resentments, dreams and frustrations of small-town lives with a deftness worthy of Sherwood Anderson or Edgar Lee Masters. This baker's dozen of tales displays considerable diversity, from a scathing dissection of corporate rituals and deceits ("Touching Idamae Low") to the lighthearted roundelay of sexual betrayals in "La Lumiere." There are several slight pieces, such as "From the Desk of the Troublesome Editor," a meditation on Jewish history wrapped in a flat-footed satire of the book publishing industry. For baseball fans, the collection opens with "Jackie Robinson and My Sister" (1946), a mild comic jab at racial prejudice, and closes with a 1993 hymn to baseball as a path to self-knowledge. Harris's penetrating stories offer astute perceptions of Americans, people who are frequently outwitted by their own husbands, wives, memories and invented personal mythologies. (May) FYI: Four of Harris's novelsABang the Drum Slowly, Something About a Soldier, Speed and The TalemakerAare available as Bison Books.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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