The state we're in Maine stories

Ann Beattie

Book - 2015

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Short stories
New York : Scribner 2015.
First Scribner hardcover edition
Physical Description
ix, 206 pages ; 22 cm
Main Author
Ann Beattie (-)
  • What magical realism would be
  • The fledgling
  • Aunt Sophie Renaldo Brown
  • Adirondack chairs
  • Yancey
  • Silent prayer
  • Endless rain into a paper cup
  • Duff's done enough
  • Elvis is ahead of us
  • Major maybe
  • Road movie.
Review by Booklist Reviews

*Starred Review* Beattie's new collection of stories, her first original volume since Follies (2005) and following the spectacular retrospective gathering, The New Yorker Stories (2010), is graced by a slyly clever title. The "state" these 15 stories are anchored to is Maine, jutting up away from the rest of the country in rocky, woodsy splendor, which does nothing to keep out the human volatility found everywhere else ("No day failed to contain the unexpected"), while the states of mind her fumbling characters find themselves in range from depressed to enraged to resigned. Beattie is a master at depicting the peculiarly painful valor necessary for contending with troubled family members, spouses, lovers, neighbors, even pets. She is also that rarest of beings, a brilliantly comic literary writer. Some of her hilarity is circumstantial, such as when neighborhood kids break into an empty house and discover a cache of Elvis lamps. Most often, it's her skirmishing dialogue that makes us laugh out loud as she dramatizes everything from an auction of beat-up household goods to a tender encounter between a poet in her seventies and an IRS agent, revelations of gay relationships, and tales about anxious teenager Jocelyn, a "budding writer." One narrator muses, "The whole world's full of stories," but few can tell them as exquisitely, warmly, or drolly as Beattie. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Much fanfare will attend this stellar collection by Beattie, a writer revered and honored for her keen insights and wit. Copyright 2014 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Library Journal Reviews

Of course, Beattie works in the long form (Mrs. Nixon: A Novelist Imagines a Life was her last novel), but she's justly celebrated for her short-form fiction, having won both the Rea Award and the Short Story and PEN/Malamud Award for her achievement in that area. This collection limns the state of Maine, where Beattie now lives, though she's really more interested in state of mind, e.g., how people end up someplace by accident. Jocelyn, a classically snarky teenager living in Maine with her aunt and uncle while attending summer school, links the pieces. [Page 82]. (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

The 15 loosely connected stories in Beattie's latest collection, set on Maine's southern coast, feature drifting adults and their rootless offspring at seemingly unimportant moments that are in fact critical. In "What Magical Realism Would Be," a high school student living with her aunt and uncle rants about summer school. "Writing essays was retarded," Jocelyn asserts. "It totally was." Jocelyn prefers nights on the beach with friends. "Road Movie" describes an unlucky tryst at a California hotel; "The Fledgling" shows an ungainly attempt to rescue a wayward bird; Elvis lamps are auctioned off in "The Repurposed Barn," in which Jocelyn sees her teacher in a new light. "Adirondack Chairs" uses furniture to reflect a couple's abandoned future; in "The Little Hutchinsons," a wedding hosted by the titular characters goes awry. In "Missed Calls," an encounter between a photographer's widow and a writer distracted by concern for his stepdaughter starts with the widow's memory of Truman Capote but becomes an unsettling view of the stepdaughter and her family. "Major Maybe," in which a Portland doctor remembers 1980s New York, begins with a woman getting hit by a car, then weaves its way back to the narrator, her roommate, and the flower in their apartment window. The collection demonstrates Beattie's craftsmanship, precise language, and her knack for revealing psychological truths. Agent: Lynn Nesbit, Janklow & Nesbit Associates. (Aug.) [Page ]. Copyright 2014 PWxyz LLC

Review by Publisher Summary 1

Presents a collection of linked tales that impart the diverse perspectives of women orbiting around a disaffected teen who is staying with relatives while attending summer school.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

An award-winning short story master presents a collection of new, linked tales that impart the diverse perspectives of women orbiting around a disaffected teen who is staying with relatives while attending summer school.

Review by Publisher Summary 3

A magnificent new collection of linked stories from a multiple prize-winning master of the short form. The State We're In, Ann Beattie's first collection of new stories in a decade, is about how we live in the places we have chosen'or have been chosen by. It is about the stories we tell our families, our friends, and ourselves; the truths we may or may not see; how our affinities unite or repel us; and where we look for love.Told through the voices of vivid and engaging women of all ages, The State We're In explores their doubts and desires and reveals the unexpected moments and glancing epiphanies of daily life. Some of Beattie's idiosyncratic and compelling characters have arrived in the coastal state by accident, while others are trying to escape. The collection is woven around Jocelyn, a wry, disaffected teenager living with her aunt and uncle for the summer, forging new friendships, avoiding her mother's calls, taking writing classes, and encountering mortality for the first time. As in life, the narratives of other characters interrupt Jocelyn's, sometimes challenging and sometimes embellishing her view.Riveting, witty, sly, and bold, these stories describe a state of mind, a manner of being. A Beattie story, says Margaret Atwood, is 'like a fresh bulletin from the front: we snatch it up, eager to know what's happening out there on the edge of that shifting and dubious no-man's-land known as interpersonal relations.' Beattie's sentences, her insights, and her inimitable voice are mesmerizing.