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How the Dead Live (Paperback) Loot Price: R220 Discovery Miles 2 200 You Save: R46 (17%)
How the Dead Live (Paperback): Alvin Greenberg
How the Dead Live (Paperback): Alvin Greenberg

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How the Dead Live (Paperback)

Alvin Greenberg

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List price R266 Loot Price R220 Discovery Miles 2 200 You Save R46 (17%)

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A ponderous collection by a Minnesota author (Going Nowhere, 1971, etc.) who seems to have mastered Poe's voice without plumbing his depth. There appears to be a revival of interest in Gothic fiction these days, and not all of the blame can be laid at Anne Rice's window lattice: New Age psychology, rock music, and a simple weariness with the vacuity of most literary fiction have all added fuel to the fire. While Greenburg is not Gothic (and certainly not "Goth") in the strict sense of the word, he does seem to have an obsession of sorts with death. The title story, "How the Dead Live," is a good example: its portrayal of a man's encounter with a mugger turns into a classic memento mori when both thief and victim realize they're dead: "Don't mess with me, buddy. Never mess with a dead man. Dead men don't have anything to lose." Feidelman, the man in question, is dead because he hasn't "anything to live for," and this sense of despair is a common theme running through most of Greenburg's 15 stories. "Gruber in Traffic," for example, describes the midlife crisis of a 43-year-old Minnesota lawyer who becomes obsessed with his own death after seeing a vision of his rabbi staring at him in the midst of a traffic jam. "A Couple of Dead Men" describes the relations of two brothers who attempt to come together after one is diagnosed with terminal cancer. Spivak, the hero of "Immersion," drives himself to the emergency room after getting hit by a UPS truck, and Elaine ("Crimes Against Humanity") displays her increasingly suicidal desperation by obsessively asking people, "How much evil can a person do in a lifetime?" All in all, a morbid lot. Restrained prose and capable dialogue carry these pieces a fair distance, but the portentousness becomes too much after a while. Eventually, the stories seem as dead as their characters. (Kirkus Reviews)
"Death, disguised as a rabbi, gets stuck in traffic in one of Alvin Greenberg's remarkable stories. Eerie, wry, and humane, these tales are both comforting and unsettling, because they bring us the darkest news with great equanimity. There is another side to everything, including mortality, and Alvin Greenberg seems to have been there and brought these stories back."--Charles Baxter
"How the Dead Live" is filled not with victims of the many major traumas of our times but with individuals whose lives have been wrested from their control by the random impact of the commonplace: by accident and disease, by urban chaos, by the lost and the found.
The ancestor of this collection, as of most American short fiction, is undoubtedly Edgar Allan Poe, with characters caught up in his recognition that "to be buried alive is, beyond question, the most terrific of these extremes which has ever fallen to the lot of mere mortality." Greenberg's stories are full of people who are buried in their own lives and strugling with whatever crude tools come to hand--humor, despair, confrontation, acceptance--to carve out a little underground space where they can breathe. Through small moments of the ridiculous and larger moments of emotional conversation, the stories re-enact the drama of how we are all to survive our own immersion in the inexplicable.
Alvin Greenberg is the author of several novels, collections of short stories, poetry books, and opera libretti. His short story collection "Delta q" won the Associated Writing Programs' Short Fiction Prize, and his work has twice been included in "Best American Short Stories." Greenberg teaches at Macalester College in Saint Paul, Minnesota.


Imprint: Graywolf Press,U.S.
Country of origin: United States
Release date: November 1998
Authors: Alvin Greenberg
Dimensions: 228 x 152 x 19mm (L x W x T)
Format: Paperback
Pages: 224
ISBN-13: 978-1-55597-281-3
Barcode: 9781555972813
Categories: Books > Fiction > General & literary fiction > Modern fiction
Books > Fiction > Special features > Short stories
LSN: 1-55597-281-0

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