The Collected Stories of Amy Hempel

by Amy Hempel

Other authorsRick Moody (Introduction)
Paperback, 2007





Scribner, (2007)


The Collected Stories of Amy Hempel gathers together the complete work of a writer whose voice is as singular and astonishing as any in American fiction. Hempel, fiercely admired by writers and reviewers, has a sterling reputation that is based on four very short collections of stories, roughly fifteen thousand stunning sentences, written over a period of nearly three decades. These are stories about people who make choices that seem inevitable, whose longings and misgivings evoke eternal human experience. With compassion, wit, and the acutest eye, Hempel observes the marriages, minor disasters, and moments of revelation in an uneasy America.WhenReasons to Live,Hempel's first collection, was published in 1985, readers encountered a pitch-perfect voice in fiction and an unsettling assessment of the culture. That collection includes "San Francisco," which Alan Cheuse inThe Chicago Tribunecalled "arguably the finest short story composed by any living writer." InAt the Gates of the Animal Kingdom,her second collection, frequently compared to the work of Raymond Carver, Hempel refined and developed her unique grace and style and her unerring instinct for the moment that defines a character. Also included here, in their entirety, are the collectionsTumble HomeandThe Dog of the Marriage.As Rick Moody says of the title novella in Tumble Home, "the leap in mastery, in seriousness, and sheer literary purpose was inspiring to behold.... And yet," he continues,"The Dog of the Marriage,the fourth collection, is even better than the other three...a triumph, in fact."The Collected Stories of Amy Hempelis the perfect opportunity for readers of contemporary American fiction to catch up to one of its masters. Moody's passionate and illuminating introduction celebrates both the appeal and the importance of Hempel's work.… (more)

User reviews

LibraryThing member rossryanross
Amy Hempel's stories are almost always profoundly moving and insightful. She writes from an assured, wise point of view that gives her stories a calm, almost hypnotic power. And Hempel delves into subjects that, in theory, shouldn't produce any literary or philosophical weight, but somehow she makes even the driest, most mundane topics beautiful and interesting. For that reason, her Collected Stories is one of my favorite books.… (more)
LibraryThing member pbirch01
Hempel is an excellent story teller and this collection of short stories reflects what the Prologue says when it states "Its all about sentences". Each story of Hempel's has something in the background, that although not explicitly stated, it is present. Maybe it is something from the past or maybe it is some sort of foreshadowing, either way the story feels more real because of the lack of descriptions which makes the reader more engaged in the story. I enjoyed picking up this book at random and reading a few stories at a time. My only complaint is that the majority of the stories are told from the first person and after a while it seems as if the author is telling various parts of her life. Still, her writing style is efficient and nuanced which benefits all who read her.… (more)
LibraryThing member gwendolyndawson
A collection of stark, concise short stories (and one novella). These stories are grim and heartbreaking without being maudlin. The ache is palpable as is the redemption. Truly unique and moving.
LibraryThing member Ix0x0L
Very concise short stories. Great for a short attention span.
LibraryThing member SunflowerRae
Beautiful writing but slightly depressing.
LibraryThing member thatotter
I'm giving this four stars, but I don't know that my heart is really in it. She has written some great, trenchant stories, but also many that didn't do much for me. Her skill is clear, though, especially in her use of deadpan humor and the rhythm of her sentences.
LibraryThing member objectplace
Some very short and others longer.
A welcome diversion and companion to thinking
LibraryThing member booklove2
I've only read the collection 'Reasons To Live' at the moment -- will be reading the others! But it turns out almost everything that Amy Hempel has published can fit in one book, so I will savor the individual collections within like chocolate truffles. Because these stories are like little perfectly crafted truffles. The sentences are perfectly thought out, giving you just enough information to give you an idea. Witty, funny to hide the grief within. I do happen to like the longer stories just because they give a little bit more info than the others. But all of the stories are worth a read. It seems like so much has influenced Amy Hempel's writing (but what writer isn't like that?) At the same time, I can see Hempel's writing inspiring so many. I'm on a roll with some solid short story collections this year.

Some particular favorites in 'Reasons To Live':
Tonight is a Favor to Holly
Celia Is Back
Nashville Gone to Ashes
In the Cemetery Where Al Jolson Is Buried
Beg, Sl Tog, Inc, Cont, Rep
Why I'm Here
Today Will Be A Quiet Day
… (more)
LibraryThing member TheBookJunky
Terrific. One of the best short story collections around. Short stories of the human condition, frequently lit up by flashes of wry humour, and always crafted in just-right sentences and rhythms.


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