Sunday, July 30, 2017

"The Accomplished Guest" by Ann Beattie

Of course I had to read the new Ann Beattie short story collection! I have been reading her for decades, from the beginning. I may not have read every single one of her 20 books (novels and short story collections), but I am guessing I have read at least 15 of them. Not to mention all the New Yorker stories she has published (I have been reading the New Yorker most of my adult life). Beattie has such a distinctive voice: engaged but somehow dry, ironic, with a little distance. There is emotion, but it is muted, understated, not quite acknowledged. This latest collection is titled “The Accomplished Guest” (Scribner, 2017). Beattie lives in Maine and in Key West, Florida, and many of the stories in this book take place in those settings, as well as in East Coast points in between the two. Her main characters tend to be affluent and older. People are often traveling to weddings, reunions, and other such gatherings, fraught with possibilities of tension and unpredictable reactions. Interestingly, the men in the stories tend to be sad, depressed, deprived, abandoned, sick, alcoholic, or otherwise impaired. I know that I will keep reading Ann Beattie’s fiction.
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