Last car over the Sagamore Bridge Stories

Peter Orner

Book - 2013

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Genres
Short stories
Published
New York : Little, Brown 2013.
Edition
1st ed
Language
English
Physical Description
198 p. ; 22 cm
ISBN
9780316224642
0316224642
Main Author
Peter Orner (-)
Review by Booklist Reviews

Orner is an undisputed master of the short short story (his first collection, Esther Stories, 2001, has just been reissued), a form that even shapes his novels (Love and Shame and Love, 2011). The 51 distilled tales in this fizzing, chilling, and incisive collection are rich in emotional intricacy, drama, and devilish humor. Also in high evidence is Orner's fascination with fractious marriages and families under pressure—especially in beautifully rendered stories set in his native Illinois—and his gift for a touch of evil. A wife stands by her Bernie Madoffish husband. A man compulsively returns to a restaurant where a murder was committed. A father barely escapes a hurricane with his daughter. A woman recounts her lover's disappearance and macabre reappearance. A woman in Mexico City misses her sister, who is out of reach in Ohio. With an eye to history and the mythic nature of public figures, Orner imagines Isaac Babel's last moments and the struggles of Russian immigrants, the Kennedys, and Chicago mayors. This is a book of alchemical concentration, microcosmic resonance, arresting surprises, and stubborn tenderness. Copyright 2013 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Library Journal Reviews

Orner returns to the short form he handled so well in The Esther Stories, a Rome Prize winner. His telling little vignettes—a woman whose husband dies before their divorce is final, a father and daughter trying to outdistance a hurricane—should please fans of astute literature. [Page 56]. (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Review by Library Journal Reviews

Orner (Esther Stories; Love and Shame and Love) once again shows himself to be a master of compression. These stories, as short as a page and no more than four or five pages at most, form a constellation of key moments in the lives of an extended family of secular Jews with retail establishments and a penchant for local (i.e., Chicago) politics. One of the book's four sections takes its title from Chekhov's play, Three Sisters: "In Moscow Everything Will Be Different." Just as Chekhov's titular sisters never stop talking about Moscow but likewise never get there, Orner's characters have their own personal "Moscows"—the events in their lives that they cannot get past, that they must continuously relive and retell, like the father who rescues his daughter in a hurricane or the man who may or may not have witnessed a fire at the Coconut Grove Hotel. VERDICT Collectively, these events take on a mythic aspect that makes them linger and coalesce in the reader's mind. Perhaps by virtue of their length, Orner's stories force the reader to pay attention to those telling details, to unravel the sentences for all they are worth, and they are worth a lot.—Sue Russell, Bryn Mawr, PA [Page 91]. (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

In his second story collection, Orner (Love and Shame and Love) fires jewel-toned shards of fiction into a stunning whole. These tales, many of which are as short as a paragraph, jump back and forth between Fall River, Mass.; Chicago; Russia; the Czech Republic; South Dakota; and other places, as well as skipping across decades. Though most stand alone, several feature the relatives of Horace and Josephine Ginsburg, a family's "famous once-hads," whose failed Ponzi scheme ruined their relatives and the whole town. Divided into four parts—"Survivors," "The Normal," "In Moscow Everything Will Be Different," and "Country of Us"—the collection explores the heartache of the past; many stories feature men trying to make sense of the confusing adult world they inhabited as children. Perhaps the most tangible example is the title story, in which Horace's brother-in-law Walt Kaplan—a daydreaming furniture salesman in 1947—ruminates on the time in 1938 when he made it over the Cape Cod Canal just ahead of a hurricane. Impermanence and longing pervade the collection. In "Fourteen-Year-Olds, Indiana Dunes, Late Afternoon," one character "rises and stands in the shallow water and faces the beach as the waves break upon the shore, only to fall back toward her," just as Orner returns over and over to these crystallized moments. Agent: Ellen Levine, Trident Media Group. (Aug.) [Page ]. Copyright 2013 PWxyz LLC

Review by Publisher Summary 1

A collection of short stories includes tales about a woman who is widowed before her divorce is fanalized and two brothers who play under the infamous bridge at Chappaquiddick.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

This collection of short stories from the author of Love and Shame and Love includes tales about a woman who is widowed before her divorce is finalized and two brothers who play under the infamous bridge at Chappaquiddick. 20,000 first printing.

Review by Publisher Summary 3

"In Last Car Over the Sagamore Bridge, Peter Orner zeroes in on the strange ways our memories define us: A woman's husband dies before their divorce is finalized; a man runs for governor of Illinois and loses much more than an election; two brothers playbeneath the infamous bridge at Chappaquiddick. Employing the masterful compression for which he's become known, Orner presents a kaleidoscope of individual lives viewed in startling, intimate close-up. Whether writing of Geraldo Rivera's attempt to reveal the contents of Al Capone's vault or of a father and daughter trying to outrun a hurricane, he illuminates universal themes. In stories that span considerable geographic ground--from Chicago to Wyoming, from Massachusetts to the Czech Republic--he writes of the past we can't seem to shake, the losses we can't make up for, and how our stories help us reclaim what we thought was gone forever."--Dust jacket.

Review by Publisher Summary 4

Peter Orner zeroes in on the strange ways our memories define us: A woman's husband dies before their divorce is finalized; a man runs for governor of Illinois and loses much more than an election; two brothers play beneath the infamous bridge at Chappaquiddick. Employing the masterful compression for which he has been widely praised, Orner presents a kaleidoscope of individual lives viewed in startling, intimate close-up.

Whether writing of Geraldo Rivera's attempt to reveal the contents of Al Capone's vault or of a father and daughter trying to outrun a hurricane, Orner illuminates universal themes. In stories that span considerable geographic ground -- from Chicago to Wyoming, from Massachusetts to the Czech Republic -- he writes of the past we can't seem to shake, the losses we can't make up for, and the power of our stories to help us reclaim what we thought was gone forever.

"A ravishing collection, full of wisdom, grief, beauty, and especially surprise." -- Anthony Doerr, author of The Shell Collectors