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by Padgett Powell

Ida Fink's first collection of stories, A Scrap of Time, was universally hailed as a masterpiece. Traces continues Fink's portrait of life in Nazi-occupied Poland, of men and women otherwise buried in the anonymous statistics of war and genocide.
Download Typical epub
ISBN: 0805071229
ISBN13: 978-0805071221
Category: Literature
Subcategory: Short Stories & Anthologies
Author: Padgett Powell
Language: English
Publisher: Henry Holt; First Edition edition (December 1, 1992)
Pages: 220 pages
ePUB size: 1108 kb
FB2 size: 1191 kb
Rating: 4.4
Votes: 570
Other Formats: mbr lrf azw txt

I can think of no author who has more fun with language than Padgett Powell. It's not so much that he 'defies' conventional writing rules, it's that he altogether ignores them on his way to creating sometimes pointed / sometimes pointless work that never fails to roll around in your brain for a while after you've closed the book jacket. I recommend this book and ALL of his writing, whether you are a casual reader or an ardent student of the craft of writing.
Padgett Powell is like a slinky lizard with words, man.
I bought this book because I heard The Winnowing of Mrs. Schuping on Selected Shorts and loved it... the other stories are funny and witty... however Mrs Shuping is a true delight.
Excellent. Especially the first story.Southern gothic black humour and irony at its best.
Great ear for dialogue. I rarely give 5 stars for anything.
I had no clue what to expect from Typical, and I was not let down. Typical is not a typical book. It is not written as a typical writer writes things. Instead it gets inside your head and reads the parts of you that you didn't realize were hidden. It tells short, reflective stories about the human heart and mind.
In every cheesy horror or sci-fi movie involving aliens or demons or pod people, there's the almost-obligatory scene where the hero(ine), having successfully slain the last(?) of the evil critters, falls into the arms of his or her sidekick/romantic interest/significant other, only to come to the sickening realization that the person they are embracing has been taken over by the forces of darkness. The music crescendos in ominous cacophony; the camera zooms in as the horrifying realization dawns across the protagonist's face ....

As I read this collection of stories, the third book by Padgett Powell, I experienced that exact same sinking feeling. Here's an author whose first novel, "Edisto", was one of the most enchanting books I had read in 1984, the year it was published. So when I came across this collection in the second-hand book store, buying it seemed like a no-brainer. Caveat lector! As it says in those indigestible mutual fund prospectuses that clog my mailbox daily, "past success is no guarantee of future performance".

In this case, the warning signals were loud and clear. Had I just taken the time to do a little skimming in the store, I would have surely seen the warning signs. "Stories" with titles like "Mr. Irony Renounces Irony", "Dr. Ordinary", "General Rancidity", "Mr. Nefarious", "Miss Resignation". These sound like homework assignments from a graduate writing workshop in hell, and that's pretty much the way they read as well. Mr. Powell apparently thinks this kind of thing may be passed off as writing:

"Dr. Ordinary found solace in nothing. He found his shoes untied during surgery. He found his mother once, when she was in her sixties, naked in the bathtub calling for a fresh martini. He found bluebirds too far south. He found pies too sweet to eat. He found God with no difficulty, but locating his belief another matter. "

And so on, for a total of three wretched pages, and sixty repetitions of the phrase "He found..". If this kind of thing strikes you as insufferable, you are unlikely to find "General Rancidity", which is just more of the same with the verb `run' instead of the verb `find', any better.

It gets worse. Four of the `stories' are named for states: Kansas, Texas, South Carolina and Florida. Here is the first 30% or so of `Texas':

"I fell off the lightning rod. I entered the sweepstakes. I lost control. I became beautiful. I charmed a queen. I defied gravity. I moved mountains. I bowled. I wept, mourned, moped, and sped about town in a convertible, progressively irascing the gendarme until I was charged with exhibitionist speed."

Progressively irascing the gendarme? What a crock!

My feelings about this toxic insult to the intelligence may be summed up as follows:
Dr. Giltinan found this book to be worthless dreck.
Or, if you prefer:
I wanted my money back.
I was first exposed to Mr. Powell's writing in a class I'm taking called "Progressive Fiction." Though the book was a bit difficult to find, the pursuit was well worth it. I'm not sure the best way to do this author justice, actually. He has a bit of Beckettian absurdity, but also a Raymond Carver sense of the downtrodden. Putting the two together results in some idiosyncratic insights. I also appreciate that he seems to be a "geographical" writer. His short-short stories with titles like "Texas", "Kansas", South Carolina" evoke a sense of place that really doesn't need more than the 2 or 3 pages he takes to convey it. My favorite stories were the title story, "Mr. Irony" and "Wayne's Fate," but the story "Texas" actually inspired me to write something of my own along the lines he set out. A must-read for any fiction writer as well as any reader who appreciates formal and linguistic play.