The Torturer's Apprentice: Stories

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9780060007454: The Torturer's Apprentice: Stories

This brilliant debut collection of stories by O. Henry Award winner John Biguenet is as notable for the rigor of its intellect as for the sweep of its imagination. Whether recounting the predicament of an atheistic stigmatic in "The Vulgar Soul" or a medieval torturer who must employ his terrible skills upon his own apprentice in the title tale, these stories decline to settle for ready sentiments or easy assurances.

Rather than add to the massive canon of the victimized, for example, "My Slave" takes the perspective of the victimizer. In "The Open Curtain," a man achieves intimacy with his family only when he recognizes -- watching them dine as he sits in his car at the curb -- that he lives in a household of strangers. Menaced by a gang of skinheads in a Jewish cemetery, an American tourist in Germany placates the Neo-Nazis with a formula he continues to repeat even after he is safely back home in "I Am Not a Jew." And as for love, it makes demands in such stories as "Do Me" that shake our very notions of what it means to love.

If these stories engage the world in sometimes shocking ways, they are virtuoso engagements, eloquent in their prose, surprising in their plotting, sly in their humor. Biguenet shifts among voices and narrative strategies and imposes neither a single style nor a repeated structure as he depicts the ecological catastrophe of "A Plague of Toads," the problem posed by a ghost in the nursery in "Fatherhood," and the ghastly discovery a grieving widower defends as "another kind of memory" in "Rose."

Such mastery of craft may come as a surprise in a first-time author, but even more impressive is the object of his art. For whether it seeks to prick or to tickle, each story in The Torturer's Apprentice addresses its subject with an authority unusual in contemporary literature as it entices the reader beyond the boundaries of the expected and the accepted.

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About the Author:

John Biguenet's fiction has appeared in such publications as Esquire, Granta, Playboy, Story, and Zoetrope. The winner of an 0. Henry Award for short fiction, he lives in New Orleans. Ecco published his debut collection of stories, The Torturer's Apprentice, in 2001. Oyster is his first novel.

From Publishers Weekly:

Like a trapeze artist who disdains the use of a net, Biguenet takes considerable risks in this impressive debut collection, which shows the influence of both American realism and European intellectual fiction. Building his stories around hard-to-like people a medieval torturer, a beautiful masochist, a man who decides to purchase a slave Biguenet examines the complex moral conundrums they face. In "The Vulgar Soul," a man named Tom Hogue begins to bleed for no apparent reason. He gradually realizes that his wounds are remarkably like stigmata, and he becomes an object of inspiration for religious seekers, though he himself remains unmoved by his condition. In "My Slave," a prospective slaveowner describes with chilling dispassion his desire to own another person. He soon finds that he understands little of the "complex mechanisms of discipline and punishment" required of slaveholders, and even less of their effect on his own psyche. The title story sketches the life of an itinerant torturer, paid to extract confessions in the small towns of medieval Europe. The torturer's life is surprisingly banal, involving the hassles of guild membership and the difficulty of transporting heavy torture devices over poor roads, but his existence takes an unforeseen turn when he engages a young, gentle apprentice. Biguenet is equally surefooted in more domestic territory. "Lunch with My Daughter" is all subtext and guarded emotions, as a man struggles with revealing his true identity to his daughter over lunch. In "The Open Curtain," a suburban salesman, burdened by routine, finds that he can take surprising pleasure in his own family. As skillful as they are ambitious, these uncompromising stories herald the arrival on the literary scene of a provocative new talent. (Feb.)
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Book Description HarperCollins, 2002. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Reprint. Language: English . Brand New Book. This brilliant debut collection of stories by O. Henry Award winner John Biguenet is as notable for the rigor of its intellect as for the sweep of its imagination. Whether recounting the predicament of an atheistic stigmatic in The Vulgar Soul or a medieval torturer who must employ his terrible skills upon his own apprentice in the title tale, these stories decline to settle for ready sentiments or easy assurances. Rather than add to the massive canon of the victimized, for example, My Slave takes the perspective of the victimizer. In The Open Curtain, a man achieves intimacy with his family only when he recognizes -- watching them dine as he sits in his car at the curb -- that he lives in a household of strangers. Menaced by a gang of skinheads in a Jewish cemetery, an American tourist in Germany placates the Neo-Nazis with a formula he continues to repeat even after he is safely back home in I Am Not a Jew. And as for love, it makes demands in such stories as Do Me that shake our very notions of what it means to love. If these stories engage the world in sometimes shocking ways, they are virtuoso engagements, eloquent in their prose, surprising in their plotting, sly in their humor. Biguenet shifts among voices and narrative strategies and imposes neither a single style nor a repeated structure as he depicts the ecological catastrophe of A Plague of Toads, the problem posed by a ghost in the nursery in Fatherhood, and the ghastly discovery a grieving widower defends as another kind of memory in Rose. Such mastery of craft may come as a surprise in a first-time author, but even more impressive is the object of his art. For whether it seeks to prick or to tickle, each story in The Torturer s Apprentice addresses its subject with an authority unusual in contemporary literature as it entices the reader beyond the boundaries of the expected and the accepted. Bookseller Inventory # AAS9780060007454

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Book Description HarperCollins, 2002. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Reprint. Language: English . This book usually ship within 10-15 business days and we will endeavor to dispatch orders quicker than this where possible. Brand New Book. This brilliant debut collection of stories by O. Henry Award winner John Biguenet is as notable for the rigor of its intellect as for the sweep of its imagination. Whether recounting the predicament of an atheistic stigmatic in The Vulgar Soul or a medieval torturer who must employ his terrible skills upon his own apprentice in the title tale, these stories decline to settle for ready sentiments or easy assurances. Rather than add to the massive canon of the victimized, for example, My Slave takes the perspective of the victimizer. In The Open Curtain, a man achieves intimacy with his family only when he recognizes -- watching them dine as he sits in his car at the curb -- that he lives in a household of strangers. Menaced by a gang of skinheads in a Jewish cemetery, an American tourist in Germany placates the Neo-Nazis with a formula he continues to repeat even after he is safely back home in I Am Not a Jew. And as for love, it makes demands in such stories as Do Me that shake our very notions of what it means to love. If these stories engage the world in sometimes shocking ways, they are virtuoso engagements, eloquent in their prose, surprising in their plotting, sly in their humor. Biguenet shifts among voices and narrative strategies and imposes neither a single style nor a repeated structure as he depicts the ecological catastrophe of A Plague of Toads, the problem posed by a ghost in the nursery in Fatherhood, and the ghastly discovery a grieving widower defends as another kind of memory in Rose. Such mastery of craft may come as a surprise in a first-time author, but even more impressive is the object of his art. For whether it seeks to prick or to tickle, each story in The Torturer s Apprentice addresses its subject with an authority unusual in contemporary literature as it entices the reader beyond the boundaries of the expected and the accepted. Bookseller Inventory # BTE9780060007454

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Book Description HarperCollins, 2002. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Reprint. Language: English . Brand New Book. This brilliant debut collection of stories by O. Henry Award winner John Biguenet is as notable for the rigor of its intellect as for the sweep of its imagination. Whether recounting the predicament of an atheistic stigmatic in The Vulgar Soul or a medieval torturer who must employ his terrible skills upon his own apprentice in the title tale, these stories decline to settle for ready sentiments or easy assurances. Rather than add to the massive canon of the victimized, for example, My Slave takes the perspective of the victimizer. In The Open Curtain, a man achieves intimacy with his family only when he recognizes -- watching them dine as he sits in his car at the curb -- that he lives in a household of strangers. Menaced by a gang of skinheads in a Jewish cemetery, an American tourist in Germany placates the Neo-Nazis with a formula he continues to repeat even after he is safely back home in I Am Not a Jew. And as for love, it makes demands in such stories as Do Me that shake our very notions of what it means to love. If these stories engage the world in sometimes shocking ways, they are virtuoso engagements, eloquent in their prose, surprising in their plotting, sly in their humor. Biguenet shifts among voices and narrative strategies and imposes neither a single style nor a repeated structure as he depicts the ecological catastrophe of A Plague of Toads, the problem posed by a ghost in the nursery in Fatherhood, and the ghastly discovery a grieving widower defends as another kind of memory in Rose. Such mastery of craft may come as a surprise in a first-time author, but even more impressive is the object of his art. For whether it seeks to prick or to tickle, each story in The Torturer s Apprentice addresses its subject with an authority unusual in contemporary literature as it entices the reader beyond the boundaries of the expected and the accepted. Bookseller Inventory # AAS9780060007454

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