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Some Trick af Helen DeWitt
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Some Trick (udgave 2019)

af Helen DeWitt (Forfatter)

MedlemmerAnmeldelserPopularitetGennemsnitlig vurderingOmtaler
1616134,571 (3.43)10
For sheer unpredictable brilliance, Gogol may come to mind, but no author alive today takes a reader as far as Helen DeWitt into the funniest, most yonder dimensions of possibility. Her jumping-off points might be statistics, romance, the art world's piranha tank, games of chance and games of skill, the travails of publishing, or success. "Look," a character begins to explain, laying out some gambit reasonably enough, even if facing a world of boomeranging counterfactuals, situations spinning out to their utmost logical extremes, and Rube Goldberg-like moving parts, where things prove "more complicated than they had first appeared" and "at 3 a.m. the circumstances seem to attenuate." In various ways, each tale carries DeWitt's signature poker-face lament regarding the near-impossibility of the life of the mind when one is made to pay to have the time for it, in a world so sadly "taken up with all sorts of paraphernalia superfluous, not to say impedimental, to ratiocination."… (mere)
Medlem:nancybent
Titel:Some Trick
Forfattere:Helen DeWitt (Forfatter)
Info:New Directions (2019), Edition: Reprint, 208 pages
Samlinger:Dit bibliotek
Vurdering:
Nøgleord:master bedroom

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Some Trick: Thirteen Stories af Helen DeWitt

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» Se også 10 omtaler

Viser 1-5 af 6 (næste | vis alle)
Check out my review in Rain Taxi Review of Books: Volume 23, Number 4, Winter 2018 (#92).
  chrisvia | Apr 29, 2021 |
Brilliant collection of stories. I might be the perfect audience for these stories. Wide ranging stories of ideas in a traditional sense, one sees DeWitt's brilliance (not a word used lightly) radiate through pretty much every story in the collection. Try the first one or two, and see if it's for you or not. Will likely attempt her Last Samurai relatively soon. ( )
  Aaron.Cohen | May 28, 2020 |
[Thoughts from a little more than halfway through: ]

It's hard to explain what I love about Helen DeWitt's writing. It's partly her cast of mind: the best way I can put it is that she has the brain of a nerd and the soul of an artist. And while she's always taking the piss out of someone or something, she doesn't come across as smug, and there's an intense (even desperate) seriousness underlying even her relatively flippant passages. Her attitude toward the world (and many of the people in it) ranges from fury to contempt to despair, but not only does she see the funny side, she communicates a powerful sense of the richness of the life of the mind.

I don't know how much of this is actually apparent in these stories; I'm definitely reading them against the backdrop of The Last Samurai.

Some Trick is not a patch on The Last Samurai, and so far there's no single story in it that I'd enthusiastically recommend. The endings are mostly underwhelming (or, in the case of Improvisation Is the Heart of Music, baffling) -- it's not that I need a payoff or a twist, but I think there's an art to writing a quiet ending without leaving the reader feeling like they're missing something. Still, the stories are enjoyable and clever and sometimes funny, and there's enough of DeWitt's distinctive sensibility in this book that I'm very glad to be reading it.

[update on finishing: ]

A mixed bag in both senses -- with the exception of a few groups of two or three that overlap quite heavily, the subject matter and tone vary considerably; but so does the quality, or at least I feel that way after reading the final story, Entourage, which did not work for me at all. There's still no single story I wholeheartedly recommend, but I'm very glad I read this and I hope DeWitt keeps writing and publishing.

To anyone who wants to begin by sampling a story or two, I'd probably suggest Brutto (a satire on the art world with something a little darker running just beneath the surface), Famous Last Words (a quiet meditation on intellectual/physical relationships), and perhaps On the Town (a fun riff on the absurdity of the entrepreneurial, jack-of-all-trades, self-made modern American success story). ( )
  matt_ar | Dec 6, 2019 |
A collection of curious, oddly shaped short stories, many of them set in university or professional environments. DeWitt's real distinguishing feature here having -- or at the very least, being able to fake -- an impressively deep knowledge of the subjects that her work touches on -- math, programming, modern art, dense postmodern theory -- and having an ear for the brash, strangely poetic jargon particular to each of them. Most writers do some research, of course, but DeWitt seems to have dug down pretty deep, with satisfying and readable results. The stories themselves can also be charmingly asymmetrical at times, less concerned with the "balance" that creative writers tend to admire and more about the genuinely surprising turns that life can take. Some of these seem to be pieces rescued from her student days at Cambridge in the mid-eighties, which also seems heartening: to some writers, nothing is every truly lost. Not exactly a revolutionary work, but recommendable to fans of lively prose and inventive, decidedly non-traditional storytelling. ( )
  TheAmpersand | Apr 27, 2019 |
Some Trick: Thirteen Stories by Helen DeWitt is a collection of short stories all focusing on people who are very intelligent in one way or another. They struggle with money, compulsions or simply with everyday life. The academics value quick, erudite conversations, peppered with untranslated French, German and Latin. Each story, taken alone, comes across as clever and unusual, taken as a whole, the stories become variations on the same thing.

The first story, Brutto, is about a young struggling artist who comes to the attention of a prominent art dealer and then sees her vision over-whelmed by his, and she's faced with the decision of whether to stick to her ideas, and perhaps have to give up art entirely to support herself, or allow her art to be changed into something unrecognizable. And in Famous Last Words, a young woman makes the following observation:

There is a text which I could insert at this point which begins, 'I'm not in the mood,' but the reader who has had occasion to consult it will know that, though open to many variations, there is one form which is, as Voltaire would say, potius optandum quam probandum, and that is the one which runs 'I'm not in the mood,' 'Oh, OK.' My own experience has shown this to be a text particularly susceptible to discursive and recursive operations, one which circles back on itself through several iterations and recapitulations, one which ends pretty invariably in 'Oh, OK,' but only about half the time as the contribution of my co-scripteur. I think for a moment about giving the thing a whirl, but finally settle on the curtailed version which leaves out, 'I'm not in the mood' and goes directly to 'Oh, OK.' X and I go upstairs. ( )
1 stem RidgewayGirl | Sep 19, 2018 |
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For sheer unpredictable brilliance, Gogol may come to mind, but no author alive today takes a reader as far as Helen DeWitt into the funniest, most yonder dimensions of possibility. Her jumping-off points might be statistics, romance, the art world's piranha tank, games of chance and games of skill, the travails of publishing, or success. "Look," a character begins to explain, laying out some gambit reasonably enough, even if facing a world of boomeranging counterfactuals, situations spinning out to their utmost logical extremes, and Rube Goldberg-like moving parts, where things prove "more complicated than they had first appeared" and "at 3 a.m. the circumstances seem to attenuate." In various ways, each tale carries DeWitt's signature poker-face lament regarding the near-impossibility of the life of the mind when one is made to pay to have the time for it, in a world so sadly "taken up with all sorts of paraphernalia superfluous, not to say impedimental, to ratiocination."

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