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In-flight entertainment : stories
Helen Simpson
Adult Fiction SIMPSON

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From Publishers' Weekly:

If there's a flaw to be found in Simpson's latest collection of stories (after In the Driver's Seat, from 2007), it's that they're so clever they can distract readers from the characters as they admire the author's technique. Simpson's prose is crisp, her insights unsparing, and her passions transparent. The title story introduces a theme that runs throughout: humankind's heedless destruction of our environment, especially from air travel. Related themes are intergenerational blame and tension between activists and the apathetic. Characters grapple with the awareness that they and those they love are falling toward death, which makes for quiet, sorrowful stories like "Scan" and "Charm for a Friend with a Lump"; and hurtling toward annihilation, as in the terrifying postapocalyptic "Diary of an Interesting Year." There's also caustic humor, as shown by "I'm Sorry but I'll have to Let You Go," told from the POV of a self-centered jerk breaking up with his girlfriend. And as the young couple attempting to accommodate their differences in "Geography Boy" shows, there's also love and hope. Simpson nonchalantly scrutinizes the often strained relationships between parents, and veers into adultery in the delightful "Squirrel." These 13 new stories showcase the work of one of the finest contemporary writers in the form. Agent: United Agents. (Feb.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

From Library Journal:

British author Simpson has published a novel, Flesh and Grass, but her four story collections (Getting a Life; Four Bare Legs in a Bed; Dear George; In the Driver's Seat) show her to be a master of the short form, winning her comparison with the likes of Flannery O'Connor and Alice Munro. The 13 quirky cautionary tales in this latest collection deal with intimate aspects of contemporary living, such as friendship, marriage, parenting, and infidelity, as well as global issues like war, climate change, and the extinction of the species. Funny, wry, wicked, painful, and written with an economy that sometimes borders on parsimony, Simpson's stories are the work of an agile artist. -VERDICT Some of the stories here are akin to essays rather than fiction, others are as enigmatic and unsettling as fugues in a minor key. Best suited for readers who prefer the short story to more extensive works.-Joyce J. Townsend, Pittsburg, CA (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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