You Think That's Bad

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Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, Mar 22, 2011 - Fiction - 240 pages
3 Reviews
Following Like You’d Understand, Anyway—awarded the Story Prize and a finalist for the National Book Award—Jim Shepard returns with an even more wildly diverse collection of astonishingly observant stories. Like an expert curator, he populates the vastness of human experience—from its bizarre fringes and lonely, breathtaking pinnacles to the hopelessly mediocre and desperately below average—with brilliant scientists, reluctant soldiers, workaholic artists, female explorers, depraved murderers, and deluded losers, all wholly convincing and utterly fascinating.

A “black world” operative at Los Alamos isn’t allowed to tell his wife anything about his daily activities, but he can’t resist sharing her intimate confidences with his work buddy. A young Alpine researcher falls in love with the girlfriend of his brother, who was killed in an avalanche he believes he caused. An unlucky farm boy becomes the manservant of a French nobleman who’s as proud of his military service with Joan of Arc as he’s aroused by the slaughter of children. A free-spirited autodidact, grieving her lost sister, traces the ancient steps of a ruthless Middle Eastern sect and becomes the first Western woman to travel the Arabian deserts. From the inventor of the Godzilla epics to a miserable G.I. in New Guinea, each comes to realize that knowing better is never enough.

Enthralling and unfailingly compassionate, You Think That’s Bad traverses centuries, continents, and social strata, but the joy and struggle that Shepard depicts with such devastating sensitivity—all the heartbreak, alienation, intimacy, and accomplishment—has a universal resonance.


From the Hardcover edition.
 

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User Review  - Laura400 - LibraryThing

Wonderful short stories, many of which are based on real events. They feature similar protagonists, men suffering from a certain alienation and inability to communicate. It made me feel very sorry for ... Read full review

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User Review  - GeoffWyss - LibraryThing

My advice would be to skip the first four stories (and especially the first), which simply aren't on par with the rest of the collection. Those four stories (with the possible slight exception of the ... Read full review

Contents

Minotaur
In Cretaceous Seas
Happy with Crocodiles
Your Fate Hurtles Down at
LowHanging Fruit
Boys Town
Classical Scenes of Farewell
Acknowledgments
Copyright

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About the author (2011)

Jim Shepard is the author of six novels and three previous story collections. His stories are published regularly in such magazines as The New Yorker, The Atlantic, McSweeney’s, Tin House, Zoetrope: All-Story, Playboy, and Vice, among others. “The Netherlands Lives with Water,” from this collection, appears in The Best American Short Stories 2010. “Your Fate Hurtles Down at You,” also from this collection, appears in PEN/O. Henry Prize Stories 2011. He lives with his wife and their three children in Williamstown, Massachusetts.


From the Hardcover edition.

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