Joan Silber In My Other Life: Stories

ISBN 13: 9781889330426

In My Other Life: Stories

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9781889330426: In My Other Life: Stories
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A hip New Yorker confronts the accident of middle age.

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Review:

The inhabitants of In My Other Life--bartenders and waitresses, drug counselors, teachers, many with histories of narcotics use or minor criminality--come to engaging life in Joan Silber's serene, understated prose. She renders even the few fantastic occurrences in her first short-story collection in simple, serviceable phrases, like aluminum cutlery--not the stuff you'd bring out for company, but the battered, durable everyday kind. That Silber can sometimes make a kite or a suspension bridge out of knives and forks is one reason for reading these stories, which in other ways may sound like old New Yorker fiction: short on incident, long on tranquil recollection. In "Without Ellie," a young woman remembers the night that she failed to save the life of her mentally disturbed stepsister, who broke away from her on a Manhattan street one night and was later found beaten and stabbed. In "Partners," a Florida travel agent receives a phone call in the wake of Hurricane Andrew from her old friend and business partner, for many years a drug runner and shady character. Rae tells Nathan about her sojourn in the basement during the hurricane, and, from the safety of middle age, recalls the "tremendous things" they had undergone in their youths: a failed drug buy in La Paz, the new gun that made Nathan "silky and confident."

In fact, they had worn her out, those exciting troubles. She was weather-beaten when they were over. But down in the laundry cellar, with the pipes shaking, she was just as glad to be weather-beaten. All the disasters of her life (and Nathan was far from the worst) seemed reassuring, the grislier the better, she was glad to have them to remember. The trouble stored in her was like a white noise, another roar, to whatever was outside.
At their most oblique, Silber's stories can read like the rambling monologues of transients in bus terminals--the book's opener, "Bobby Jackson," has a climax so soft that it's easy to miss--but at their best, they are shrewd and revelatory, well worth reading twice. --Regina Marler

From the Publisher:

Silber's prose has all the traits of an urban sensibility: confidence, wit, individual style, and an emotional distance that keeps the despair of city life in perspective. Her characters often face risks that astonish themselves, a lesbian couple adopts a biracial baby, an ex-stripper thinks about a life without sex. These characters are what Hopkins called widows of an insight lost--they know that each era has its own assumptions and they're never enough; real life is always trickier and vaster. Narrated with abiding calm, Silber's people encounter the surprise of the particular, ready or not.

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9781889330433: In My Other Life: Stories

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ISBN 10:  1889330434 ISBN 13:  9781889330433
Publisher: Sarabande Books, 2000
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Joan Silber
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ISBN 10: 1889330426 ISBN 13: 9781889330426
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