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Cries for Help, Various: Stories
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Catapult 2015
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Named a Best Book of 2015 by NPR and Vanity Fair
"Rifles through fear, identity, meaning, and cultural memory in forty–four short, surreal stories." —Vanity Fair
"By turns moving, funny, and maddening…. very much in the key of Donald Barthelme." —The New York Times Book Review
"Somehow both grounded and absurd, each one of the stories trying get at that heart of the confusion and sadness at the core of contemporary life." —VICE
From the highly acclaimed author of Edisto and The Interrogative Mood, Padgett Powell's new collection of stories, Cries for Help, Various, follows his mentor Donald Barthelme's advice that "wacky mode" must "break their hearts." The surrealistic and comical terrain of most of the forty–four stories here is grounded by a real preoccupation with longing, fear, work, loneliness, and cultural nostalgia. These universal concerns are given exhilarating life by way of Powell's "wit, his . . . dazzling turns of phrase" (Scott Spencer).
Padgett Powell's language is both lofty and low–down, his tone cranky and heartfelt, exuberant and inconsolable. His characters rebel against convention and ambition, hoping to maintain their very sanity by doing so. Even the most hilarious or fantastical stories in Cries for Help, Various ring gloriously, poignantly, true.

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Format:
Adobe EPUB eBook, Kindle Book, OverDrive Read
Street Date:
09/08/2015
Language:
English
ISBN:
9781936787326
ASIN:
B00W0LR08M

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Citations

APA Citation (style guide)

Padgett Powell. (2015). Cries for Help, Various: Stories. Catapult.

Chicago / Turabian - Author Date Citation (style guide)

Padgett Powell. 2015. Cries for Help, Various: Stories. Catapult.

Chicago / Turabian - Humanities Citation (style guide)

Padgett Powell, Cries for Help, Various: Stories. Catapult, 2015.

MLA Citation (style guide)

Padgett Powell. Cries for Help, Various: Stories. Catapult, 2015.

Note! Citation formats are based on standards as of July 2022. Citations contain only title, author, edition, publisher, and year published. Citations should be used as a guideline and should be double checked for accuracy.

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Date Updated:
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fullDescription
Named a Best Book of 2015 by NPR and Vanity Fair
"Rifles through fear, identity, meaning, and cultural memory in forty–four short, surreal stories." —Vanity Fair
"By turns moving, funny, and maddening…. very much in the key of Donald Barthelme." —The New York Times Book Review
"Somehow both grounded and absurd, each one of the stories trying get at that heart of the confusion and sadness at the core of contemporary life." —VICE
From the highly acclaimed author of Edisto and The Interrogative Mood, Padgett Powell's new collection of stories, Cries for Help, Various, follows his mentor Donald Barthelme's advice that "wacky mode" must "break their hearts." The surrealistic and comical terrain of most of the forty–four stories here is grounded by a real preoccupation with longing, fear, work, loneliness, and cultural nostalgia. These universal concerns are given exhilarating life by way of Powell's "wit, his . . . dazzling turns of phrase" (Scott Spencer).
Padgett Powell's language is both lofty and low–down, his tone cranky and heartfelt, exuberant and inconsolable. His characters rebel against convention and ambition, hoping to maintain their very sanity by doing so. Even the most hilarious or fantastical stories in Cries for Help, Various ring gloriously, poignantly, true.
reviews
      • premium: False
      • source: NPR's Best Books of 2015, recommended by Philipp Goedicke, limericist, Wait Wait ... Don't Tell Me!
      • content: "Padgett Powell captures voices and thoughts so exquisitely it hurts to read sometimes; you want to stop to laugh or sigh but you also can't wait to see what comes next. In these 44 stories, Powell grabs you and lets you go at the same time -- with poignant observations and expressions of longing followed by a quick comment on how banal it all is. He does it in the title itself, Cries for Help, Various, and he delivers it again and again in his finely wrought stories."
      • premium: False
      • source: Teddy Wayne, The New York Times Book Review
      • content: "By turns moving, funny, and maddening….These stories are very much in the key of Donald Barthelme…with touches of Nicholson Baker's fascination with the microscopic and the nostalgic….They regularly embed a fragment of wisdom, a brilliantly turned phrase, or a laugh–inducing one–liner."
      • premium: False
      • source: The Wall Street Journal
      • content: "A surreal and at times laugh–out–loud collection of short stories"
      • premium: False
      • source: VICE
      • content: "This new collection of stories. . . is somehow both grounded and absurd, each one of the stories trying get at that heart of the confusion and sadness at the core of contemporary life."
      • premium: True
      • source: Publisher's Weekly
      • content:

        June 29, 2015
        Powell (Edisto) has occasionally been pigeonholed as a sort of Southern Donald Barthelme, and it is true that most of the 44 stories collected here can be described as short comic tales with a distinct Dixie swagger. But these stories offer even more, such as the emotional vigor of “Spy,” in which an aging father comes to suspect that his daughter is working for the CIA (“My daughter wears a wire, I a diaper”) or the pathos of “A Local Boy,” in which a rock-bottom loser blames his shortcomings on Sherman’s March. Other stories imagine a grade school friendship between Charles Dickens and Janis Joplin (“Joplin and Dickens”) and take the point of view of a recluse considering investing in a Ukrainian mail-order bride (“The Retarded Hermit”); several (“Wagons, Ho!” and “The New World”) meditate on the settling of America. There’s also a pair of companion pieces to Powell’s The Interrogative Mood (“The Imperative Mood” and ”The Indicative Mood”) and a strange trilogy about Boris Yeltsin. But the best of these stories—and they’re all good—plumb for depth and coax profundity out of the moody detritus of Americana. Powell’s range is matched only by his sense of play, and this book is a skeleton key to an extremely gifted and quintessentially American writer, at home in any form.

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      • source: Kirkus
      • content:

        July 1, 2015
        A playful and provoking clutch of stories that forces words and themes into unfamiliar territory. In 2009, veteran literary gamesman Powell (You & Me, 2012, etc.) published The Interrogative Mood, a novel told exclusively in questions. Two of the 44 (usually brief) stories here are sequels of a sort. In "The Imperative Mood," demand piles up on demand ("Prepare your backpack. Line up all the Velcro closures in your environment"), in time suggesting the flimsiness of advice and of the demands we make on others. Similarly, "The Indicative Mood" layers factual statements to reveal the hollowness of information without context. Many of these stories can be read as satires of common literary tropes, though Powell's language is so slippery and spiky they don't usually qualify as outrightly comic. Stories like "Horses," "Dusk," and "Wagons, Ho!" dismantle Western themes, and "Spy" is a brief sendup of espionage tales narrated by a man whose teenage daughter works for the CIA ("Trying to find out where she has been on a Saturday night may be a breach of national security"). Powell's loopiness can be fun: the narrator of "Change of Life" contemplates buying a "Government Cookie Flyer," and while the nature of that contraption is never explained, the critique of irrational covetousness gets over. But many of these stories are so slathered in non sequiturs that it can be hard to find a toehold. A sketch about "meat-shirt-making monks"? Janis Joplin and Charles Dickens imagined as high school classmates? Powell's given fair warning-"We are not in the zone of logic"-but puzzling out his rhetorical feints is often more exhausting than rewarding. Powell has great fun with abstraction that harks back to Barthelme and the Modernists, though not every riff registers.

        COPYRIGHT(2015) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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Named a Best Book of 2015 by NPR and Vanity Fair
"Rifles through fear, identity, meaning, and cultural memory in forty–four short, surreal stories." —Vanity Fair
"By turns moving, funny, and maddening…. very much in the key of Donald Barthelme." —The New York Times Book Review
"Somehow both grounded and absurd, each one of the stories trying get at that heart of the confusion and sadness at the core of contemporary life." —VICE
From the highly acclaimed author of Edisto and The Interrogative Mood, Padgett Powell's new collection of stories, Cries for Help, Various, follows his mentor Donald Barthelme's advice that "wacky mode" must "break their hearts." The surrealistic and comical terrain of most of the forty–four stories here is grounded by a real preoccupation with longing, fear, work, loneliness, and cultural nostalgia. These universal concerns are given exhilarating life by...
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