Karate chop Stories

Dorthe Nors, 1970-

Book - 2014

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FICTION/Nors Dorthe
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Lannan translation series selection.
Short stories
Minneapolis, Minnesota : Graywolf Press [2014]
Item Description
"A Public Space book."
Physical Description
89 pages ; 21 cm
Main Author
Dorthe Nors, 1970- (-)
Other Authors
Martin Aitken (translator)
  • Do you know Jussi?
  • Mutual destruction
  • The Buddhist
  • The winter garden
  • The big tomato
  • Duckling
  • Female killers
  • Flight
  • Nat Newsom
  • Hair salon
  • The heron
  • Karate chop
  • Mother, grandmother, and Aunt Ellen
  • She frequented cemeteries
  • The Wadden Sea.
Review by Booklist Reviews

Acclaimed Danish novelist Nors could not have picked a more appropriate title for her new collection. These stories are swift and unexpected and bruising. Nors' insight into the strange nuances of human interactions, especially those rooted in violence or sorrow, is keen to the point of vivisection. In the span of two pages, she is able to both build and unmake a character, achieving the same complexity that other writers require entire novels to establish. What's more, her protagonists are familiar and unsettling, with characteristics that echo in our psyches and ask us to call into question all we assume about ourselves and others. Karate Chop is the first of Nors' books to be translated to English but certainly won't be the last. Lovers of the art of literary fiction, students of psychology, and everyone looking for a quick, thought-provoking read should all indulge themselves in the subversive delight of this short story collection. Copyright 2014 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

These very short works (most are no more than three pages, the longest is roughly eight) are as sharp-edged, destructive, and intentionally made as the title suggests. Nowhere here is a word out of place. Imagine Grace Paley with more than a little of Mary Gaitskill's keen eye for the despair and violence of sex, mixed with an otherness that's unsettlingly odd and vivid. The sentences are brightly visual and attuned to the weird details of each character's inner world. In "Janus," protagonist Louise lies in bed after losing her virginity. She follows her thoughts to an afternoon spent licking envelopes at her father's office, where she had an intimate daydream about one addressee. "There he had lain under his white linen, smelling of duvet, and Louise had wanted to cry." Nors's stories (most like Paley in this way) have multiple stories within them, holding hands with each other. In "Female Killers," Nors writes, "Maybe that's why she opens doors in the mind. Doors, stairwells, pantries." Each of these pages contains a trapdoor, a side entrance, and, at times, they feel like dispatches from an alien world (or maybe the basement). Nors's writing doesn't just observe the details of life—online searches, laundry, fantasies, conversations with semi-strangers, compulsions—it offers a marvelous, truthful take on how these details illustrate our souls. (Feb.) [Page ]. Copyright 2013 PWxyz LLC

Review by Publisher Summary 1

A collection of stories explores the mundane and the dangerous in daily life, including tales of a husband obsessed with female serial killers and a bureaucrat who converts to Buddhism to gain power.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

The first story collection written in English by the acclaimed Danish writer features the mundane and dangerous in daily life, including tales of a husband obsessed with female serial killers and a bureaucrat who converts to Buddhism to gain power. Original. 15,000 first printing.

Review by Publisher Summary 3

The first book in English by an acclaimed Danish writer: "beautiful, faceted, haunting stories . . . [from] a rising star" (Junot Díaz)Karate Chop, Dorthe Nors's acclaimed story collection, is the debut book in the collaboration between Graywolf Press and A Public Space. These fifteen compact stories are meticulously observed glimpses of everyday life that expose the ominous lurking under the ordinary. While his wife sleeps, a husband prowls the Internet, obsessed with female serial killers; a bureaucrat tries to reinvent himself, exposing goodness as artifice when he converts to Buddhism in search of power; a woman sits on the edge of the bed where her lover lies, attempting to locate a motive for his violence within her own self-doubt. Shifting between moments of violence (real and imagined) and mundane contemporary life, these stories encompass the complexity of human emotions, our capacity for cruelty as well as compassion. Not so much minimalist as stealthy, Karate Chop delivers its blows with an understatement that shows a master at work.