Short People by Joshua Furst

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An astonishing debut: ten stories that explore—and reveal—American childhood in all its glory, hope and conflict.
In Short People we encounter, among many others, Jason and Billy, best friends who discover by the age of six how to conquer the world, only to see this idyll then shatter before them; Shawn, whose baptism compels him to make life a holy hell for everyone around him; and Evan, who finds that his pursuit of a Boy Scout merit badge is luring him into uncharted social territory. In the meantime, an agonized couple exhausts their expectations for their own kids, with an aftermath that afflicts them all. There’s also Mary, whose sixteenth birthday precipitates an adulthood she is scarcely prepared to enter, and Emmy, who began that same transition when she was only twelve. Finally, and perhaps most harrowingly, is the nurse who with eerie prescience delivers so many babies to their destiny.

In a remarkable display of imagination and compassion, Joshua Furst reconstrues our preconceptions about innocence, purity, faith and memory through an unflinching, pitch-perfect gaze, with both authority and originality. Each new story enhances a collection whose importance is thoroughly contemporary and at once hilarious and heartbreaking.

About Joshua Furst

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A graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, Joshua Furst is the author of several plays that have been produced in New York, where for a number of years he taught in the public schools. His honors include a Michener Fel-lowship and the Chicago Tribune’s Nelson Algren Award. He lives in New York City.
Published June 3, 2003 by Knopf. 224 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction. Fiction

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Kirkus Reviews

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The two best stories portray a “family in crisis” brought on by its well-meaning father’s “progressive” imperatives (no TV, no toys) and inability to empathize with his harried wife’s failure to control either their kids or her own maternal and sexual demons (“The Good Parents”);

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Publishers Weekly

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Like medical case histories put through a mangle, Furst's 10 stories are detached, distorted chronicles of the vicissitudes of childhood.

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If, as someone once said, a novel is an evolution and a short story is a revelation, then this publishing season has brought revelations via new short story collections as prolific as summer raindrops.

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Fiction Writers Review

But Furst reminds you what it’s like to be six – what it feels like to discover the world: Billy knows about the past and the present, but Jason has learned something new.

May 20 2010 | Read Full Review of Short People: Stories

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