I am a huge fan of Deborah Eisenberg, as pretty much everyone knows, and I’m so happy she’s finally got her own complete stories. Here’s a nice brief piece on her and her collection from npr.org.
I went to Amazon the other day to see when it was coming out and I found the following in a customer review of the collection. Someone wrote (5 days before the book was even published):
As to content, several of the short stories had female characters who just followed men around and were incredibly passive. Some of them ended up leaving the men for various reasons, but after a while I got rather annoyed reading about young women who just drift passively along letting men dictate their lives. I would have liked to have read less of that type of story. Please don’t misunderstand – I’m not saying that it’s wrong to write a story like this, only that there are so many of them in this collection that it aggravated me.
It doesn’t seem the reviewer’s read Eisenberg before. It’s interesting to think how her work might come off to someone who read straight through the collection without knowing much about her work. The reviewer isn’t wrong, and I’ve noticed the trend, but it never bothered me. In fact, I like those stories and looked forward to reading them. There was always a fresh observation of this phenomenon, which I witness often in real life. But I do understand becoming aggravated by a writer’s “thing.” I love, love, love Ann Beattie, but it’s hard for me to read a lot of her stories in a row because they often end very similarly. Her endings are beautiful, but that beauty is diluted when it becomes familiar and expected, or when it becomes to easy to understand the “trick” (of course, understanding does not = the ability to perform it).