Some Fun: Stories and a Novella
One of the most award-winning, critically-acclaimed story writers working today, Antonya Nelson has a list of accolades that is astonishing for any writer, but especially for one as young as she. With her newest collection, Nelson once again proves herself worthy of her stellar reputation, delivering seven taut, striking stories and a brilliant novella, all exploring the tensions of troubled family relations.
Nelson is an extraordinary chronicler of the fraught relationships between parents and children and husbands and wives. With her particular understanding of the threats and vulnerabilities of wild adolescence, as well as the complicated, persistent love that often lies dormant beneath the drama of rebellion, she illuminates the hidden corners of her characters' lives.
The shy, shoplifting 16-year-old protagonist in the title novella is trying to understand how to become an adult while going through a year of family disaster. We watch as she dabbles in the same adult behaviors that so repulse her about her parents (binge drinking, sex) while maintaining so much of her adolescent insecurity and confusion. "Dick" is a moving story about a mother who, having lost her daughter to the vicissitudes of adolescence, has a compulsion to protect her innocent, preadolescent son from the aggressive and encroaching post-9/11 adult world. The homeless teen at the heart of "Eminent Domain" is a pampered Houston rich girl who has, for her own reasons, taken to the streets.
Radiating an emotional intensity that unifies the entire collection, each of Nelson's stories both captivates and unnerves. As her characters run the gauntlet of often bewildering family tensions and trauma, she alternates hope and despair, resentment and love, in perfectly recognizable proportions.
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About the Author
"I scan the tables of contents of magazines, looking for Antonya Nelson's name, hoping that she has decided to bless us again. She's absolutely one of my favorites among story writers today, and I envy the reader who has yet to discover her work." -- Michael Chabon
"A master of the casually scathing observation . . . yet for every moment of sardonic humor in her work, Nelson shows one of vulnerability, and her writing is ultimately defined not by its cleverness but by its heart." -- "The Atlantic Monthly"
"I've been a Toni fan ever since I read a story of hers called 'The Salad' on my second or third day of graduate school. I read her newest collection so fast the pages are singed." -- David Foster Wallace
"We see clearly what it is that the best young writers have to offer -- a kind of pizzazz, the love of undercurrent, of voyeuristic intensity, a bewildered fascination with ritual as it has been undermined in our time, yet sustained, too, in an oddly moving way. We also witness familial relationships from the bottom up." -- Raymond Carver
"Nelson subtly depicts the mysterious and lasting influence of human transgressions . . . without ever preaching to her readers or losing her compassionate, comic edge." -- "San Francisco Chronicle Book Review"
"Nelson has a pitch-perfect ear for the rhythms and unspoken subtexts of domestic life, and especially for the ways a family balances old grudges with the need to practice forgiveness." -- Francine Prose
"Nelson's prose is precise and energetic, and her insights delight because they manage to be at once surprising and so right as to seem inevitable." -- "The New York Times Book Review"
"Nelson's great gift is her ability to create characters so lovable -- even in the face of their many flaws -- that we will happily trail each one around for a while, scarcely caring if they are wrestling with a life-threatening crisis or taking the dog for a walk." -- "The Village Voice"