What I Didn't See: and Other Stories

In her moving and elegant new collection, New York Times bestseller Karen Joy Fowler writes about John Wilkes Booth s younger brother, a one winged man, a California cult, and a pair of twins, and she digs into our past, present, and future in the quiet, witty, and incisive way only she can.The sinister and the magical are always lurking just below the surface for a motheIn her moving and elegant new collection, New York Times bestseller Karen Joy Fowler writes about John Wilkes Booth s younger brother, a one winged man, a California cult, and a pair of twins, and she digs into our past, present, and future in the quiet, witty, and incisive way only she can.The sinister and the magical are always lurking just below the surface for a mother who invents a fairy tale world for her son in Halfway People for Edwin Booth in Edwin s Ghost, haunted by his fame as America s Hamlet and his brother s terrible actions for Norah, a rebellious teenager facing torture in The Pelican Bar as she confronts Mama Strong, the sadistic boss of a rehabilitation facility for the narrator recounting her descent in What I Didn t See With clear and insightful prose, Fowler s stories measure the human capacities for hope and despair, brutality and kindness This collection, which includes two Nebula Award winners, is sure to delight readers, even as it pulls the rug out from underneath them.
What I Didn t See and Other Stories In her moving and elegant new collection New York Times bestseller Karen Joy Fowler writes about John Wilkes Booth s younger brother a one winged man a California cult and a pair of twins and she

  • Title: What I Didn't See: and Other Stories
  • Author: Karen Joy Fowler
  • ISBN: 9781931520683
  • Page: 479
  • Format: Hardcover
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      Posted by:Karen Joy Fowler
      Published :2018-07-10T09:05:42+00:00

    About the Author

    Karen Joy Fowler

    I was born in Bloomington, Indiana I was due on Valentine s Day but arrived a week early my mother blamed this on a really exciting IU basketball game My father was a psychologist at the University, but not that kind of psychologist He studied animal behavior, and especially learning He ran rats through mazes My mother was a polio survivor, a schoolteacher, and a pioneer in the co operative nursery school movement Along with basketball, my family loved books The day I got my first library card there was a special dinner to celebrate And before I could read myself, I remember my father reading The Iliad to me, although really he was reading it to my older brother, I just got to be there A shocking book And I remember Mary Poppins and Winnie the Pooh in my father s voice and a bunch of other things that weren t movies yet My parents strongly disapproved of the Disney version of things Pooh believed in a spoonful of honey, but Mary Poppins did not.I have great memories of Bloomington Our block was packed with kids and we played enormous games that covered whole blocks of territory, with ten kids to a side One of my childhood friends was Theodore Deppe, who s now an outstanding poet I planned to grow up to be a dog trainer myself.Both my parents were raised in southern California and so regarded our time in Indiana as an exile When I was 11 years old my father was offered a job with Encyclopedia Britannica that necessitated our moving to Palo Alto, California My parents were thrilled to be coming back My older brother, for reasons that escape me, was equally pleased I was devastated.Palo Alto was much sophisticated than Bloomington At recess in Bloomington we played baseball, skipped rope, played jacks or marbles depending on the season In Palo Alto girls my age were already setting their hair, listening to the radio, talking about boys I considered it a sad trade The best thing about the sixth grade was that my teacher, Miss Sarzin, read The Hobbit to us.After reading many books, I graduated from Palo Alto High in 1968 and went to Berkeley I was a political science major and an antiwar activist I was in Berkeley during People s Park, when the city was occupied and there were tanks on the street corners, and I was there during the Jackson State Kent State killings I met my husband there He d been part of the free speech movement that was my idea of glamor We got married the year I graduated and we came to graduate school at UC Davis together.As an undergraduate I had a special interest in India and Gandhi, and a general interest in imperialism I find the intersection of cultures fascinating, the misunderstandings that occur, the mistakes that are innocently made I m not so fascinated by the mistakes that aren t innocent, although there are a good many of the latter kind As a graduate student I focused on China and Japan It s not clear to me what my career goals were whatever, I had my first child during spring break of the last year of my masters Six days less than two years later I had a second child My husband and I still live in Davis, although the kids have left for college and beyond.I decided to try to be a writer on my 30th birthday.All questions answered

    372 Comment

    • Negar Khalili said:
      Oct 18, 2018 - 09:05 AM

      تلخ و عجیب و فکر بر انگیزنده و و تاثیر گذار و خواندنی در عین کوتاهی

    • Sarah said:
      Oct 18, 2018 - 09:05 AM

      This falls somewhere around three and a half stars for me, but I'm giving it the benefit of the doubt because I didn't read it in my medium of choice. While I'm now okay with the occasional ebook, I don't think it's the ideal medium for short story collections. I want to be able to choose which story to read next. I want to be able to glance back at the title of the story I just read as soon as I'm done, because proper titling is an art form. I want to be able to glance at the credits and see wh [...]

    • Michael Beeman said:
      Oct 18, 2018 - 09:05 AM

      For some authors, a short story collections is like a science lab. The stories in this collection, published over a span of nearly two decades, show Fowler experimenting with many different styles and forms distinct from her novels. But no matter the genre or subject, the author retains what makes her full-length books so successful: an attention to detail, an ear for language, and compassion for her characters. For those who have found Fowler through her novels, these stories offer a chance to [...]

    • Jenny (Reading Envy) said:
      Oct 18, 2018 - 09:05 AM

      Not the best short stories I read in 2010, but I think the one about the immortality cult and the one about the teen sent away for brainwashing boot camp will stick with me.

    • Amy said:
      Oct 18, 2018 - 09:05 AM

      I'm not usually a fan of the short story. At best, I'm left feeling dissatisfied that the story (or stories) aren't novel length, and that the characters and the plot weren't fleshed out to completion. At worst, I finish them with a bitter after-taste based on not understanding what the author was trying to convey. I had read some of Karen Joy Fowler's books in the past and because I had enjoyed her writing before, I thought I'd give this compilation of stories a try. Besides, it was a library b [...]

    • Katherine Pearl said:
      Oct 18, 2018 - 09:05 AM

      My favorite stories in this collection straddle the line between reality and not-quite-reality in a style I have long admired, even though I am never sure what to call it (Slipstream? Magical realism? Sci-fi?). The title story adheres pretty closely to historical fact, but the visitors encounters with Africa and gorillas, which were at the time almost mythical beasts, endows it with a aura of fantasy, and at the end, mystery. The collection opens with “The Pelican Bar,” which I read as a dar [...]

    • Christopher said:
      Oct 18, 2018 - 09:05 AM

      This is a fantastic collection of stories that venture into the unseen and peripheral worlds that exist within the world around us. It's dark, sometimes funny, challenging, and always riveting in the way that good fiction makes us feel when it forces us to look at things we'd rather ignore.

    • Dan said:
      Oct 18, 2018 - 09:05 AM

      With a short story collection, you have to be willing to allow for stories to which you are indifferent and measure the quality of the collection by the height of the best stories. (The same goes for collections of essays, Nine Gates by Jane Hirshfield earned my 5-star appreciation despite my indifference to over half the essays because a couple were so exemplary.)I thought "Booth's Ghost" was thoughtful, but not moving enough to remember a few weeks after reading it. Likewise "The Dark" and "Pr [...]

    • Vel Veeter said:
      Oct 18, 2018 - 09:05 AM

      So I have only read one of Karen Joy Fowler’s books before: We are Completely Beside Ourselves. I really liked it. It’s about a family who raises a chimp alongside their other child and its various fallouts. It’s good.But I also know her as the author of The Jane Austen Book Club which could be good, but I am suspicious of any book circulating around Jane Austen and her books because there’s so many of them.And then her other books come with a variety of mixed subjects and reviews: so I [...]

    • Maree Kimberley said:
      Oct 18, 2018 - 09:05 AM

      Sometimes the quotes on the back blurb of a novel or short story collection can set expectations a little too high, and this was the case for me with Fowler's What I Didn't See Coming. With descriptions such as "Fowler's stories measure the human capacities for hope and despair, brutality and kindness" I was expecting a lot from this short story collection, and although I think several of the stories were excellent, overall it didn't live up to the back blurb hype.The opening story, The Pelican [...]

    • Karen said:
      Oct 18, 2018 - 09:05 AM

      I found this collection to be wildly imaginative and creative, but also with a twist of nostalgia and food for thought. This was my first read of Karen Joy Fowler and I am anxious to see what else she has to offer.uly a gifted and talented writer.

    • Miki said:
      Oct 18, 2018 - 09:05 AM

      I really struggled to finish this collection of stories. I can't say that they are not good, maybe just that they tend to be slow at first, and mostly realistic, with some touches of fantastic elements. Not my cup of tea.

    • Ariel said:
      Oct 18, 2018 - 09:05 AM

      Well, that was boring. And the explicit details of spiders made it even less enjoyable since I have arachnophobia. Oh, and I'm Black; so the casual racism exhibited by the characters made it even worse than the spiders.@@

    • Alex Strick van Linschoten said:
      Oct 18, 2018 - 09:05 AM

      Only read 'The Pelican Bar' from this collection, a harrowing tale combining abduction, torture and a quasi-boarding school like environment. Fowler packs a lot into a seemingly short space. This story will stay with me for a while.

    • Rachel Ann Brickner said:
      Oct 18, 2018 - 09:05 AM

      I love this collection so much. It's so imaginative, funny, dark, & unique. Can't wait to go back to "The Dark" and "What I Didn't See" in particular.

    • Naomi said:
      Oct 18, 2018 - 09:05 AM

      The title story is pretty good. For me most of the other stories are neither fantasy nor weird nor literary.

    • Carrie said:
      Oct 18, 2018 - 09:05 AM

      I read something new because I liked a previous book enough to get another by the same author, or because I want something fun and quick enough to shut my brain off for a few hours and the cover (or blurb) suggest to me that this book will be worth the risk, or because it was suggested to me as a "must read" by someone I trust (though there are very few of those). Fowler's collection of short stories was one that was recommended to me, and I am now in the position of both appreciating the sugges [...]

    • Patricia Weenolsen said:
      Oct 18, 2018 - 09:05 AM

      Books Reviewby Patricia WeenolsenWHAT I DIDN’T SEE and Other Stories by Karen Joy Fowler Haruki Murakami and Karen Joy Fowler are two of my favorite practitioners of the art of the short story. Fowler’s tales begin with people whom you may have met in fairly ordinary situations. Or are they? Twin sisters are backpacking in Europe and learn of the Last Word Cafe; they immediately want to visit, because a boy with whom they’re both in love may read at the open mic. A teenager mouths off to h [...]

    • James said:
      Oct 18, 2018 - 09:05 AM

      Based on Karen Joy Fowler’s work to date, it is clear that she likes books. The Jane Austen Book Club, for which she is mainly known is an engagement with the modern romance genre as well as Austen’s novels. The Case of the Imaginary Detective, also published as Wit’s End, is a crime novel about crime novels. What I Didn’t See is a collection of Karen Joy Fowler’s short stories, the first such collection since 1997’s Black Glass. Most of the stories in this collection have been publi [...]

    • Shel said:
      Oct 18, 2018 - 09:05 AM

      While the Kindle works nicely in many ways, sometimes reading short story collections on it can be annoying. You want to jump around from story to story. You want to flip pages. You are looking for a short one to get rolling with or words that draw you in. Not all of the e-versions make this easy. This wasn't a problem with Karen Joy Fowler's What I Didn't See: Stories, however, because every story begins with an enticement. All 12 stories flow and the reader moves rapidly into whichever story s [...]

    • Susan said:
      Oct 18, 2018 - 09:05 AM

      A review that I read on the inside cover of this book compared her to Shirley Jackson and Ursula LeGuin. I found that interesting because I do not see those two as necessarily similar in style, but it was enough to get me to pick this book up at the library. I am a big fan of short stories and essays and the themes mentioned were all creative twists on the history we have been taught.I have only ever read "The Lottery" by Shirley Jackson and that story sticks with a person; Fowler does not reach [...]

    • Carolyn Mck said:
      Oct 18, 2018 - 09:05 AM

      This is the first set of stories I have read from this author, who is highly regarded in the short story field. She writes about the margins - between reality and fantasy, animal and human, history and myth. While her view is aslant, her voice is incisive. The two stories I will particularly remember are The Pelican Bar (a fierce look at what might be done to troublesome teenage girls who are sent for 'rehabilitation') and What I Didn't See, a story set in the jungles of the Congo in the 1920s i [...]

    • Kyle Muntz said:
      Oct 18, 2018 - 09:05 AM

      A solid collection with a huge range, though I thought the voice of the narrator's was generally more interesting than what happened in the stories. A few great ones though, especially The Pelican Bar, about a girl in a cruel boarding school maybe run by aliens, and the title story, which had a setting that almost reminded me of Tarzan with a very interesting focus on feminism. Fowler's novels have never looked very interesting to me, so this collection was a big eye opener, especially how sharp [...]

    • Jenni Moody said:
      Oct 18, 2018 - 09:05 AM

      Fowler knows how to give amazing endings to stories, the kind where you speak very plainly and concretely about one thing, but in such a way that it conjures up a larger, abstract world of theme and meaning. I keep trying to write these kinds of endings in my own stories, and always fail.There's also a great sense of playing with history in these stories, and many of them have a non-fiction tone, as if our narrator is someone like Mary Roach. The concept of telling the story of reality is ever-p [...]

    • Andrea said:
      Oct 18, 2018 - 09:05 AM

      It's weird, because my overall impression of this collection was "it's okay," which is probably because the last two stories did not hit with me, so I exited on a down note. Plus I read it directly after reading Kelly Link. But looking at my individual ratings, this averages right at 3.5, which is good.There was something a little too solid, a little too heavy about some of these. Is that a weird thing to say? Not heavy like tragic content and emotional scarring, but weighed down somehow. The st [...]

    • Elizabeth said:
      Oct 18, 2018 - 09:05 AM

      The Pelican Bar - A 15 year-old girl who is apparently abusing drugs and otherwise misbehaving is shipped off on her birthday to an intensive rehab/boarding school, where she's treated like crap from the get-go. Her parents ignore her initial plea to rescue her and she's kept until she turns 18. I'm still trying to determine where this story is going Booth's ghost - A story about the family of John Wilkes booth - Lincoln's assassin. It fleshes out how various members of the family rose to promin [...]

    • Julie said:
      Oct 18, 2018 - 09:05 AM

      Science fiction? Fantasy? Neither? It can be hard to tell with some of Karen Joy Fowler's stories. And particularly difficult in this collection! I'd say they all appeal to sf/f readers, though, even if you're pretty certain it's neither.Most of the stories in this collection were published in the last few years, and there's at least one entirely new one. "What I Didn't See" is, I think, the oldest story in this collection. Or perhaps it was "Standing Room Only", which is my favorite one, even t [...]

    • Christina said:
      Oct 18, 2018 - 09:05 AM

      As this is a collection of short stories, I wish I could rate each contribution on its own merits. Some stories, such as "The Pelican Bar," "The Dark," and "What I Didn't See," were extraoridnary. I was especially moved by her thoughts at the end of "King Rat," which also concluded this volume, as it made me reflect upon the fact that disappearing and searching are two major themes in her overall body of work. In these thoughts, I felt Fowler was reaching out and speaking as herself, not her nar [...]

    • Oona said:
      Oct 18, 2018 - 09:05 AM

      diverse and intense short stories. the first, Pelican Bar, I am thinking about weeks later. it concerns parents who send their out of control teenage daughter to what they believe is a rehabilitation facility. as events progress, the reader makes discoveries alongside the character. it is matter of fact horrorience fiction, history, family dynamics make appearances in this collection of short stories. as this format needs to do, the author wastes no time pulling you into each story. quirky, horr [...]

    • Andrea said:
      Oct 18, 2018 - 09:05 AM

      Fowler's stories are shrewd and unsettling, and I couldn't help feeling slightly tense and off-kilter as I eagerly read through each. Many in the collection seem ethnographical in nature--an insider's look at a cult, an archeological dig, a research expedition in the Congo, the family of John Wilkes Booth. Fowler's range is wide and her characters, settings, and conflicts diverse, but her stories hang together in "What I Didn't See" by the underlying theme of disappearance: those who disappear o [...]

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