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The First Paper Girl in Red Oak, Iowa: Stories

Stuckey-French, Elizabeth

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ISBN 10: 0385498934 / ISBN 13: 9780385498937
Verlag: Doubleday
Gebraucht Zustand: Fine Hardcover
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0385498934 Fine in Fine dust jacket. First edition. Quality, Value, Experience. Media Shipped in New Boxes. Buchnummer des Verkäufers BING61606

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Bibliografische Details

Titel: The First Paper Girl in Red Oak, Iowa: ...

Verlag: Doubleday

Einband: Hardcover


Zustand des Schutzumschlags: Dust Jacket Included

Auflage: 1st Edition

Über diesen Titel


Welcome to the curious world of Elizabeth Stuckey-French.  Her exuberant collection is peopled with characters who walk a thin line between reality and delusion, trying to break out of their molds and live a little. With stylish, wry writing, Stuckey-French creates intelligent, poignant, funny fiction.

Her characters--mostly Midwesterners trying to make sense of a changing world--are bizarre but strangely lovable.  They may lie to make their situations better, but the stories have a resounding emotional truth.

In "Junior," we meet a dog psychic who enlists her troubled niece in a moneymaking scheme.  In "Electric Wizard," grieving parents beg a teacher to invent poetry and pretend their dead son wrote it.  And in the title story, the mother of two young children drives east on a disordered impulse through a blizzard and picks up a gas station attendant along the way.  Several of these stories have appeared in The Atlantic Monthly and literary reviews, where her work has received recognition and praise.

In Stuckey-French's striking fictional world, powerful emotional forces roil the outwardly placid surfaces of her characters' lives--our notions of "normal" are permanently altered, and yet these stories have a generosity of spirit that cannot fail to strike a chord with all of us.


Midwestern weirdness from a writer who seems genuinely to love her square-peg characters. In The First Paper Girl in Red Oak, Iowa, Elizabeth Stuckey-French is absorbed by that eternal question: Who's to say what's normal, anyway? Her opening story, "Junior," deals with a young girl who tries to drown a fellow swimmer at a pool; her shady, dog-psychic aunt is called upon to rehabilitate her. In her final entry, "The Visible Man," Althea, an old woman in a state mental institution, gets a visit from her former employer. She had cleaned for Rona for many years and now Rona takes her home for lunch. As Althea roams her former place of work, Stuckey-French subtly inverts the balance of power between boss and employee, sane and insane. When Rona announces that the place is haunted, Althea does "a quick mental inventory of Rona's obsessions over the years--was this one the most absurd ever? Yup." Althea may live in an asylum, but she's no more insane than chatelaine Rona--maybe saner, and certainly smarter.

The ubiquity of nuttiness is also the theme of the lovely story "Electric Wizard," in which the parents of a dead boy visit his poetry teacher, looking for clues to their son's suicide. The woman can't recall any poems the boy wrote in class, so she and her daughters sort of, well, make some up. As her daughter spouts invented verse, the teacher is forced to see that no parent can know her children utterly. They're growing too quickly. As the evening wears down, she thinks, "I wanted to gather it all in, to capture and hold it somehow, and keep us for a while just as we were, before we became whatever it was we were going to be." Here are characters who are uncomfortable with themselves, people with no right place in the world. Stuckey-French makes art of awkwardness. --Claire Dederer

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