All Things, All at Once: New and Selected Stories

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9780393061376: All Things, All at Once: New and Selected Stories

"Cheever's true heir, our major American short story writer."—William Harrison

Here are stories about fathers and sons, stories about men and women, and stories about the relationships between men by one of our most gifted story writers. The narrator of "The Who, the What and the Why," begins breaking into his own house as a sort of therapy after his daughter dies. In "The Human Use of Inhuman Beings," the main character realizes that his closest relationship is to an angel, who appears to him only to announce the death of loved ones. All Things, All at Once reminds us why Lee K. Abbott is to be treasured: his perfect pitch for tales of hapless Southwesterners, his way with sympathetic irony, his eye that skillfully notes the awkward humiliations—common heartbreak, fractured families—and records it all in lyrical, affectionate language. In tales new and from previous collections Abbott examines lived life and the lies we necessarily tell about it.

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About the Author:

Many of Lee K. Abbott's stories have been featured in The Best American Short Stories and have won O. Henry Awards. He lives in rural New Mexico and Columbus, Ohio.

From Booklist:

*Starred Review* With his distinctive literary voice, Abbott claims the short story as his own territory and populates it with 40-ish men with bellies going soft who are products of their pasts--which may include duty in Vietnam--trying to make their best of the present. In these sometimes loosely linked stories, which fall into the author's categories of boy-girl, buddy-buddy, father-son, and futuristic or wacky, Abbot virtually grabs the reader by the neck with his opening sentences and doesn't let go. His territory is the Southwest, often small-town Deming, New Mexico, the hometown to which his protagonists tend to return as adults, and his themes center on love and its loss (husbands, and an occasional wife, stray from their marital beds) and learning about themselves and life in general.^B All of these 24 stories have been previously published in magazines, and many were in Abbott's earlier books, including two as title stories in previous collections; unfortunately, their alphabetical-by-title arrangement doesn't include a chronology. Still, this is Abbott at his best, testosterone level high, with prose that is dense but boisterous and sometimes loopy, language that in itself shows him to be a master at work. Michele Leber
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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