Jump and Other Stories

by Nadine Gordimer

Paperback, 1991







Fifteen thematically and geographically wide-ranging stories from the Nobel Prize Winner, with settings ranging from suburban London to Mozambique.

User reviews

LibraryThing member figre
There is a story in this collection, “Some Are Born To Sweet Delight”, that is both typical and atypical of the entire collection. It is the story of Vera and her slow attraction to the border within her parent’s household. While not specifically indicated, it is assumed that this is a house in South Africa. (In general, Gordimer’s writing is based in South Africa. Hence, the assumption. However, even if not South Africa, it is a similar situation.) Vera is White, the border is Black. The attraction builds slowly, and Gordimer’s compelling writing leads us through the courtship (though not really the correct word for the way the relationship develops), the growing love, and the eventual consummation which includes a pregnancy and potential marriage. How this story is typical is Gordimer’s lyrical writing. Without being obtrusive, she describes scenes and situations in a way that makes the reader feels he or she really understands and can see the situation. In this particular story, she uses the device of dashes rather than quotation marks (an affectation she uses in other stories) in a way that, rather than feeling contrived, feels real to the story that is being told. And then, in literally the last page of a 20-page story, there is a turning point event that is incredibly untrue to the story the reader has come to expect. (There be no spoilers here, so I won’t say more.) Maybe this is not untrue to the story Gordimer is attempting to tell, but there is little to nothing to foreshadow the event and, coming from the blue as it does, destroys the trust the reader has with the writer. Atypically, Gordimer plays fast and lose with basic writing skills, making an event seemingly happen simply for the shock of it.

And so this entire collection goes. One minute, the reader is captured by Gordimer’s writing and is drawn into the stories that are being told. (In the reading of these stories, it is not too hard to understand why she was the Nobel Prize is included in her credentials.) The next, there is something that does not work, something that glaringly stands out to the reader as not quite what should be there. While it is atypical for a catastrophic event (as noted above) to suddenly burst, unexpected, on the scene in a Gordimer story, it is not atypical to find something that is either unnecessary, unrelated, or (the worst) unprofessional. So, this stands as a decent story collection, and it does a good job of showcasing the writer’s skills. However, the proof in this collection is not sufficient to show why that Nobel was eventually awarded, and the overall effect is that this is a nice enough read, but something a bit more is needed to really make it worth my while.
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LibraryThing member thorold
Troubling, unpredictable and often very subtle short stories from the last decade of Apartheid.
LibraryThing member laurustina
I've picked up a few short story collections in the last couple of months, thinking that my current short attention span would thank me, but this is the first of those collections to really engage me. Gordimer's stories were brutal and beautiful one after another. Really lovely, meaty stuff.



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