Spectacle by Susan Steinberg
Stories

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Synopsis

An inventive new collection from the author of Hydroplane and The End of Free Love

* A San Francisco Chronicle, Complex, Flavorwire, Vol. 1 Brooklyn, Largehearted Boy and Slaughterhouse 90210 Best Book of the Year *

In these innovative linked stories, women confront loss and grief as they sift through the wreckage of their lives. In the title story, a woman struggles with the death of her friend in a plane crash. A daughter decides whether to take her father off life support in the Pushcart Prize-winning “Cowboys.” And in “Underthings,” when a man hits his girlfriend, she calls it an accident. Spectacle bears witness to alarming and strange incidents: carnival rides and plane crashes, affairs spied through keyholes and amateur porn, vandalism and petty theft. These wounded women stand at the edge of disaster and risk it all to speak their sharpest secrets.

In lean, acrobatic prose, Susan Steinberg subverts assumptions about narrative and challenges conventional gender roles. She delivers insight with a fierce lyric intensity in sentences shorn of excessive sentiment or unnecessary ornament. By fusing style and story, Steinberg amplifies the connections between themes and characters so that each devastating revelation echoes throughout the collection. A vital and turbulent book from a distinctive voice, Spectacle will break your heart, and then, before the last page is turned, will bind it up anew.

“Experimental but never opaque, Steinberg’s stories seethe with real and imagined menace.” —Publishers Weekly

 

About Susan Steinberg

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Susan Steinberg is the author of the short-story collections Hydroplane and The End of Free Love. She was the 2010 United States Artists Ziporyn Fellow in Literature. Her stories have appeared in McSweeney’s, Conjunctions, The Gettysburg Review, American Short Fiction, Boulevard, and The Massachusetts Review, and she is the recipient of a Pushcart Prize. She has held residencies at the MacDowell Colony, the Vermont Studio Center, the Wurlitzer Foundation, the Blue Mountain Center, Yaddo, and New York University. She has a BFA in painting from the Maryland Institute College of Art and an MFA in English from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. She teaches at the University of San Francisco.
 
Published January 8, 2013 by Graywolf Press. 160 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Spectacle

Kirkus Reviews

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Steinberg challenges our ideals of femininity and masculinity as she writes about a young woman, seething with anger and jealousy, who steals her boyfriend’s car radio and smashes it, only to discover that the act of revenge doesn’t have the satisfying effect she anticipated.

Sep 30 2012 | Read Full Review of Spectacle: Stories

Publishers Weekly

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Steinberg subverts the feminist critique of women identified only by their male-counterparts and delivers a multifaceted female protagonist who whispers her secrets, shouts her confusions, and rends her relationships to find some meaning in the wreckage.

Oct 29 2012 | Read Full Review of Spectacle: Stories

Dallas News

I was all kinds of messed up,” says the woman in the opening line of “Supernova.” Most of these stories begin with a disorienting sentence and read like puzzles in need of solving: “My boyfriend hit me in the face with a book,” says the narrator in the first line of “Underthings.” Was it just an ...

Feb 01 2013 | Read Full Review of Spectacle: Stories

PopMatters

People swing past with motion blur, shot to convey some of the excitement of the midway rideD image from Shutterstock.com.

Mar 04 2013 | Read Full Review of Spectacle: Stories

Bookmarks Magazine

A vital and turbulent book from a distinctive voice, Spectacle will break your heart, and then, before the last page is turned, will bind it up anew.“Experimental but never opaque, Steinberg’s stories seethe with real and imagined menace.” —Publishers Weekly

Jan 21 2013 | Read Full Review of Spectacle: Stories

Reader Rating for Spectacle
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