The Spirit Returns: Stories - Johns Hopkins: Poetry and Fiction (Paperback)
  • The Spirit Returns: Stories - Johns Hopkins: Poetry and Fiction (Paperback)
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The Spirit Returns: Stories - Johns Hopkins: Poetry and Fiction (Paperback)

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£13.50
Paperback 200 Pages / Published: 30/11/2001
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The Spirit Returns is the fourth collection of original short fiction from Richard Burgin. His characters are everyday people at emotional and psychological crossroads. In "The Liar," a man opening up to a dinner companion is reminded of the emptiness of his own life when the promise of emotional intimacy unexpectedly goes unfulfilled. A couple on a date face their own gender prejudices, past disappointments, and sexual expectations in "Carbo's". In the title story, a man who takes an unusual pleasure out of frightening strangers is forced to deal with his own fears when he shares this pleasure with one of those strangers. These are flawed but genuine individuals, rooted in honesty and compassion, and the lines of their compelling stories trace journeys through insecurity, despair, and, ultimately, hope. She didn't have anything to say so she smiled as he sat down. When he got settled she looked at him and the oddest thing happened. She couldn't see his face. She knew he was a man, but where his face was supposed to be, there was a blankness like a white sheaf of sky. - from "Carbo's"

Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press
ISBN: 9780801867965
Number of pages: 200
Weight: 350 g
Dimensions: 229 x 152 x 15 mm


MEDIA REVIEWS

"Burgin has a real gift for surprising the reader, and that's what makes The Spirit Returns worthwhile." -- Colette Bancroft, St. Petersburg Times


"The Spirit Returns is filled with shocking encounters and bizarre, miserable people all massaged to life by the author's adept prose." -- Susan Bale, Hudson Review


"Burgin's prose is invigorating. Bravely and imaginatively, he characterizes that feeling of being adrift in a consumer-driven society and is particulary astute and funny dealing with the male viewpoint... another solid story collection." -- Jean Timmons, Review of Contemporary Fiction


"The 11 new stories in The Spirit Returns, Burgin's exquisite fourth collection, feature numerous offbeat loners beleaguered by the meaninglessness of their own existence. Yet somehow, remarkable things happen that compel us to care about them." -- Andrew Weinstein, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel


"Burgin's fiction insinuates itself into the reader's consciousness with stubborn persistence. His cast of emotionally crippled misfits and outsiders may be off-putting and even deplorable, but his unique capacity for simultaneous detachment and empathy and his single-minded pursuit of the nuances of pain insist on making themselves memorable." -- Fredric Koeppel, Memphis Commercial Appeal


"Richard Burgin's fourth book of short fiction solidifies his reputation as one of America's most distinctive storytellers. Burgin works the territory of the urban grotesque, a genre that goes back to Poe and Melville... I can think of no one else of his generation who reports on the war between the sexes with more devastating wit and accuracy. It appears to be a war that is spinning out of control." -- Robert Zeller, Philadelphia Inquirer


"Most of the characters in these 11 hard-edged stories fall well outside our culture's conception of normalcy. Lonely, damaged people who desire love and intimacy, they're doomed to thwart every opportunity for connection... Burgin writes crisp and intelligent dialogue and description, and he handles disconcerting situations with deadpan ease... His characters -- alone, alienated, desolate and desperate -- come alive on the page." -- Publishers Weekly


"The Spirit Returns is a work whose entire approach, in terms of language and theme, is achingly honest... [Burgin's] concerns -- the relationships of fathers and children, loneliness in society, and nostalgic yearnings for elusive pasts -- are the preoccupations of an author who cares deeply for not only his characters, but for the lonely plights of all in this sadly, and surprisingly, lonely world... What Burgin accomplishes, finally, is the creation of tales and people who get under our skin. These are men and women we either know well or actually are, so we squirm with familiarity as we sit back and read their stories... Life is a painful beauty, of course, and Richard Burgin is a master of showing us just how sad and happy we might be." -- Sean Bernard, American Book Review


"A writer once elegant and disturbing, Burgin is among our finest artists of love at its most desperate, and his well-crafted stories have won four Pushcart Prizes. Among American fiction writers, only Joyce Carol Oates has won more. In his new collection, The Spirit Returns, Burgin offers 11 tales, all in some way involved with the quest for love, even romance, in environments toxic to such pursuits... Burgin's work looks honestly at love burdened by illusion. It is a sad but rigorous imagining of personal relationships in our time, and the stories accumulate a convincing weight... Along the way and without showiness or fuss, Burgin writes gorgeous, evocative prose... Though it may sound depressing, The Spirit Returns is a book that springs moments of hope upon a reader like a sudden blazing of light." -- Floyd Skloot, Chicago Tribune


"In contemporary fiction, the plight of the unfulfilled, dysfunctional outsider coping with personal and familial tumult is nothing unusual... But the diverse cast of Burgin's eleven new short stories attain a rare level of plausibility. His characters are creations devoid of gimmicky quirks, written as if the author nurtured them instead if manufacturing them on irony's assembly line. Animated by Burgin's quick and economical prose, framed by his voyeuristic sensibility, these are recognizable and familiar people... Burgin shows an uncanny ability to navigate the peak-and-valley landscape of the modern relationship. Lovers, spouses, prostitutes, johns, and strangers collide in The Spirit Returns, each collision startling the reader with dead-on observations and an unexpected feeling of kinship with Burgin's outcasts... An approachable, unsettling collection of air-tight stories with evocative and empathetic protagonists, Spirit does us a service by keeping human woundedness and resilience fresh in our minds." -- Ethan Paquin, Boston Review

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