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The Wonders of the Invisible World

Gates, David

350 ratings by Goodreads
ISBN 10: 0679436685 / ISBN 13: 9780679436683
Published by New York: Knopf,, 1999
Condition: Fine Hardcover
From Browsers' Bookstore, CBA (Corvallis, OR, U.S.A.)

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About this Item

Signed. First Edition. First printing. Signed and dated by the author. Review copy with publicity material laid in. 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. Though not marked, from the collection of Mel Waggoner, host of the public radio program "Profiles" which interviewed authors. Dust Jacket protected by mylar cover. Bookseller Inventory # mon0000087819

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Bibliographic Details

Title: The Wonders of the Invisible World

Publisher: New York: Knopf,

Publication Date: 1999

Binding: Paperback

Book Condition:Fine

Dust Jacket Condition: Fine

Signed: Signed by Author(s)

Edition: 1st Edition

About this title


In these stories, the author of Jernigan (runner-up for the Pulitzer Prize) and Preston Falls (finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award) illuminates with unflinching vision and hard-earned compassion a great variety of lives: men and women, young and old, in thrall to--or in flight from--jobs less creative than the echoing past had promised, as their parents, siblings or children die, implode or (perhaps just as bad) flourish. Gates's people know their Hopper, Huysmans and Haggard, their Beckett, Bartoli and Billie Holiday, more confidently than they know their families, friends and lovers.

Yet they're terrifyingly self-aware, and refuse to go gently--even when they're going nowhere fast. The author the New York Times calls "a novelist of the very first order" now stakes a similar claim as a writer of short fiction.

My first thought of the day is: And we are supposedly good people.  (from "Beating")

Moral support: a weird expression. Was the assumption that people's morals needed shoring up in time of stress? Or was it moral of you to lend support?  ("The Crazy Thought")

But it's not his baby, of course, nor mine. The baby is its own baby. I think of it as a girl, because the idea of a tiny man inside me is, is, is what? Repulsive, I was going to say . . .  ("The Bad Thing")

If anything is strange, it's her husband's refusing to get rid of his dead mother's wheelchair. ("Saturn")

What you don't do is get into porn on the Internet. You don't get a cat. You could possibly get a dog, but not a small dog.   ("Star Baby")

Out Main Street we flew and onto Massachusetts Avenue, and the people on the sidewalks seemed to pass each other in comradely fashion, like the angels in Jacob's dream--a thing I hadn't thought about since I was a boy in Sunday school--moving up and down the ladder that reached from earth to heaven. They began to be surrounded by a pulsing radiance, and I thought I saw some of them passing right through others. It didn't strike me as out of the ordinary. ("The Mail Lady")


David Gates writes practically perfect American stories. Perfect, first of all, in their staid adherence to American short-story tradition. There will be no rioting in the cafés over his first collection, The Wonders of the Invisible World, with its glimpses of characters daunted by love. Here are creatures we know well: Manhattan quasi professionals taking their lumps; urbane fortysomethings trying out small-town life. It's all Updikean adultery, Cheeveresque drinking, some drugs, a life-altering accident or two. But Gates's stories step beyond being perfect examples of their form to become something fresh, compassionate, and witty. He has an astonishing handle on the way people talk, not just to each other, but to themselves. In the title story, a husband remembers the day his wife left him: "She appeared holding a tall glass in each hand as if she were--forget it, no stupid similes. She was a vision. A vision of herself." In "Beating," a Jewish woman is fed up with her Leftist, activist husband, who owns Pound's collected works. "I fantasize sometimes about making a big stink and demanding that he at least put Ezra Pound away where I won't have to see it every day of my life. I'd be like, Hey hey, ho ho, Ezra Pound has got to go."

This kind of attention to the goofy music of interior dialogue is normally found in comic fiction. But Gates is concerned, too, with the little failures of language, and so the failures of relationships. His territory is not comedy, it's the tragedy of failed optimism. In this way, too, he is a perfectly American writer. --Claire Dederer

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