Short People: Stories

Furst, Joshua

Published by Alfred a Knopf Inc, 2003
ISBN 10: 0375414312 / ISBN 13: 9780375414312
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**Collectible** Inscribed and dated by Author (6 -10 - 03) "To ---, Writing for the 70's ." Joshua Furst /// As New Copy in As New Dust Jacket. Author is a graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop. "Joshua Furst's debut collection is a book about childhood, not war, yet it has the feel of a letter from the front written to a soldier just graduating from boot camp and dreading what's to come. Its message is heartbreakingly mature: it doesn't matter what the conflict's about. Once the fighting has started, you have no choice but to see it through." -- Dale Peck, novelist, critiic, and columnist. Bookseller Inventory #

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Synopsis: An astonishing debut: ten stories that explore—and reveal—American childhood in all its glory, hope and conflict.
In Short People we encounter, among many others, Jason and Billy, best friends who discover by the age of six how to conquer the world, only to see this idyll then shatter before them; Shawn, whose baptism compels him to make life a holy hell for everyone around him; and Evan, who finds that his pursuit of a Boy Scout merit badge is luring him into uncharted social territory. In the meantime, an agonized couple exhausts their expectations for their own kids, with an aftermath that afflicts them all. There’s also Mary, whose sixteenth birthday precipitates an adulthood she is scarcely prepared to enter, and Emmy, who began that same transition when she was only twelve. Finally, and perhaps most harrowingly, is the nurse who with eerie prescience delivers so many babies to their destiny.

In a remarkable display of imagination and compassion, Joshua Furst reconstrues our preconceptions about innocence, purity, faith and memory through an unflinching, pitch-perfect gaze, with both authority and originality. Each new story enhances a collection whose importance is thoroughly contemporary and at once hilarious and heartbreaking.

Review: In his debut story collection, Short People, Joshua Furst presents a thoughtful, haunting look at the lives of children experiencing emotional and psychological growing pains. From a born-again son coming to grips with puberty ("[w]hy shouldn't he have looked at the Playboy the tough boys in the bathroom tried to force on him before they gave him a swirly?"), post-baptismal blues, and his parents' casual disregard of sin-free living, to a nerdy Boy Scout's public humility at camp and the sexual politics among high school girls, Furst follows kids as they try to find acceptance from their peers, as well as themselves. Interspersed are snippets of the weak, abused and neglected; children with succinct and poignant fates. While these interjections interrupt the pace, they are not superfluous, and Furst ties them together rather nicely.

While Furst occasionally breaks out of character and some of the children and families seem a bit too dysfunctional, issues perceived to be of critical importance--like TV watching in "The Good Parents"--captivate young minds:

It didn't matter what we were watching, the momentous thing was that we were watching, breaking the taboo--and without any negative psychological effects. No, TV was helping us. Though we wouldn't have been able to put it this way, we knew, we just knew that if we logged enough surreptitious hours, the massive assimilating force behind them would shove all our weirdness and eccentricities into a cellar where no one could see them. We'd put an end to the whispers, the jeers, the abrupt pointed silences.

Furst's Short People contains stories that linger on, and the playground down the street will never seem the same. --Michael Ferch

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Bibliographic Details

Title: Short People: Stories
Publisher: Alfred a Knopf Inc
Publication Date: 2003
Binding: Hardcover
Book Condition: As New
Edition: 1st Edition stated

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