At the Gates of the Animal Kingdom (Contemporary American Fiction)

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9780140149029: At the Gates of the Animal Kingdom (Contemporary American Fiction)
From Publishers Weekly:

Here the very talented Hempel works in a hard-bitten, often mannered mode with material made familiar in her first book, Reasons to Live . The stories in her new collection follow people through crises and emergencies, from traffic accidents to mastectomies, as they take risks, waiting "for the moment that would snap me out of my seeming life" yet frequently "cut off from meaning and completion" in the end. A housewife in "Under No Moon" is mysteriously bent on seeing a comet, but in a minor comedy of errors fails to do so. The earnest and foolish young mother in "The Center" attempts to sponsor a destitute child, all the while behaving with the self-serving zeal of a super-yuppie consumer. In "The Harvest," one of the strongest stories, a narrator reconstructs, then deconstructs, the events leading up to and following a motorcycle injury that leaves a lasting psychological wound. Mordant and unsentimental, Hempel works with a sharp wit that sometimes shaves away too ruthlessly at characters, limiting the depth of her sympathy--and ours.
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal:

A book of short stories always brings with it the possibility of intriguing titles, and there are several grabbers in this collec tion. In "The Most Girl Part of You," one watches Big Guy, a kind of charming lug who has an obsession with ice water, as he plays the mating game with the narra tor. "And Lead Us Not into Penn Sta tion" is a testament to the insensitivity, lack of compassion, and passive accep tance of others' suffering that seems to permeate much of modern urban life. "The Rest of God" leaves the reader caught in the undertow of emotion at a beach picnic as a husband and wife are swept together briefly by a cosmic surge. Other titles include "The Day I Had Ev erything," "Tom-Rock Through the Eels," and "In the Animal Shelter." Hem pel handles her themes of disorientation, dissolution, and deliverance well. She writes in a conversational style that dis plays both wit and a wry intelligence. This collection would fit nicely with other works of contemporary fiction.
-Francis Poole, Kentucky Wesleyan Coll., Owensboro
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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