Fresh Complaint

Fresh Complaint

Stories

Book - 2017
Average Rating:
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This collection presents characters in the midst of personal and national crises. We meet a failed poet who, envious of other people's wealth during the real-estate bubble, becomes an embezzler; a clavichordist whose dreams of art collapse under the obligations of marriage and fatherhood; and, in "Bronze," a sexually confused college freshman whose encounter with a stranger on a train leads to a revelation about his past and his future.
Publisher: New York : Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2017
Edition: First edition
ISBN: 9780374203061
0374203067
Branch Call Number: FIC EUGENID 2017
Characteristics: 285 pages ; 22 cm

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TSCPL_ChrisB Nov 23, 2017

I have a complaint: Jeffrey Eugenides doesn't write enough.

Eugenides's first novel was published in 1993. Since then he's written two more novels and this, Fresh Complaint, his collection of short stories. There have been exactly nine years between each novel. So I was excited when, after reading his third novel in 2011, I read in an interview with Eugenides where he said he would not take the normal nine years to publish his next work (I tried to find that article, but was unable to do so). So it only took six years, but if this is the product of six years I am sorely disappointed and genuinely hope that it is not another nine years before the next novel.

That's not to say Fresh Complaint is a bad book. It isn't. There are some good stories in this collection. Also, there are some forgettable stories. The culmination of these creates just another “good” story collection. And being merely another “good” collection in an industry where there are many similar “good” collections means Fresh Complaint fails to stand out.

What's interesting about the stories in this collection is that they run the length of Eugenides' writing career, from 1988 to the present. I continually looked for growth or distinction between the stories from different eras, but what I discovered is that Eugenides is a consistent writer. His oldest works hold up to his newest. This is a huge compliment. All these are strong in character, language, and dialogue. He constructs such vivid and realistic stories. Strong, vivid, and realistic—these stories are not necessarily achingly beautiful, they do not transcend what we've come to expect from the short story. In fact, they're pretty average amongst the award-winning short story writers of the last century. Average isn't bad at all, but it's not great. Still, Fresh Complaint gave me a sampling of one of my favorite contemporary authors. Fingers are crossed that it's only three or four years until his next novel, but I'm not going to get my hopes up yet.

Personal favorites: “Fresh Complaint,” “Early Music,” and “Great Experiment.”

g
GummiGirl
Oct 13, 2017

A fine collection of stories, some of which relate to the author's longer works and those of others. ("Complainers", for example, is about two fans of "Two Old Women" and should not be missed by anyone who enjoyed that book.) The stories are all poignant and humorous to varying degrees, and I enjoyed every one of them.

Note: the Summary for this book mentions a story called "Bronze" which is not actually included.

Vero_biblio Oct 11, 2017

Short stories : what a nice way to enjoy some of Jeffrey Eugenides' comical/bittersweet stories of American life! I enjoyed the stories tremendously, except only one, which I skipped after a few pages. No crime in that! Enjoy. And make sure you also read his Pulitzer winner novel, 'Middlesex'.

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