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Stories from the Tube

Sharpe, Matthew

23 ratings by Goodreads
ISBN 10: 0375501967 / ISBN 13: 9780375501968
Published by Villard, 1998
Condition: Fine Hardcover
From Browsers' Bookstore, CBA (Corvallis, OR, U.S.A.)

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About this Item

Signed. First Edition. First edition. Signed and dated by the author. Fine copy in fine dust jacket. Though not marked, from the collection of Mel Waggoner, host of the public radio program "Profiles" which interviewed authors. Bookseller Inventory # mon0000092714

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Bibliographic Details

Title: Stories from the Tube

Publisher: Villard

Publication Date: 1998

Binding: Hardcover

Book Condition:Fine

Dust Jacket Condition: fine

Signed: Signed by Author(s)

Edition: 1st Edition

About this title


In Stories from the Tube, Matthew Sharpe spins ten unique and unforgettable tales inspired by the most mundane, ubiquitous texts in our culture: television commercials. With echoes of writers as diverse as Donald Barthelme, Jorge Luis Borges, and David Foster Wallace, these stories create a world in which the utterly normal and the utterly surreal collide, shatter, and reassemble themselves, where the totally insane and hilarious and the deeply moving occupy the same space. In the process, they speak volumes about how television reflects and distorts our imaginations and emotional lives, and how it both creates and destroys the mythology of the American family.
        In "Doctor Mom," a suburban mother practices medicine illegally out of her home after being stripped of her medical license. In "How I Greet My Daughter," an agoraphobic, misanthropic woman wakes to the smell of brewing coffee and realizes her grown daughter has moved in. In "Cloud," a young publishing executive traveling by airplane meets a mysterious lover whose touch is as cold and vapor-ous as a cloud. In "The Woman Who," a New York woman finds the needy and desperate beating a path to her door after she briefly and inexplicably turned into Marilyn Mon-roe during a matinee of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.
        By turns haunting, savagely funny, and unexpectedly touching, Stories from the Tube is the striking debut of a writer of uncommon talent and vision.


The title of Matthew Sharpe's first collection, Stories from the Tube, is the reader's first hint about what to expect. The short excerpts from commercials prefacing each of the 10 stories that follow act as brief plot synopses. "Tide," for example, begins with a snippet from a laundry detergent ad: "A mother and her small daughter open the trunk of the car to find the daughter's leotard has a red, wet stain on it":

Daughter: And the ballet's tomorrow!
Mother: Honey we'll get it out.
Mother, Voice-over: ...So I crossed my fingers and threw it in.
Sure enough, the narrative that follows features an identical incident, this time at the heart of a prickly mother-daughter tale involving ballet, menstruation, and that terrifying moment in a parent's life when she realizes her child has a mind of her own. "In the Snowy Kingdom" is prefaced by two lines from a deodorant commercial in which a married couple is dressing for a fundraiser at which the wife will speak. When the man flirtatiously suggests he wouldn't mind if they were the only two people at the event, his wife replies: "Then you better bring your checkbook." The sentiment is later echoed by Tara, whose husband, Dan, becomes seriously, mysteriously paralyzed during her speech at a fundraiser.

Half the fun in reading Matthew Sharpe's stories is trying to figure out how the advertisement will tie into the story that follows it. The other half, of course, is in following the elusive strands he weaves through these off-kilter tales of single mothers, unhappy lovers, bridesmaids that never get to be maid of honor, and other slightly sad-sack characters who live at the convergence of the surreal and the mundane. --Alix Wilber

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