The Collected Stories of Amy Hempel gathers together the complete work of a writer whose voice is as singular and astonishing as any in American fiction. Hempel, fiercely admired by writers and reviewers, has a sterling reputation that is based on four very short collections of stories, roughly fifteen thousand stunning sentences, written over a period of nearly three decades. These are stories about people who make choices that seem inevitable, whose longings and misgivings evoke eternal human experience. With compassion, wit, and the acutest eye, Hempel observes the marriages, minor disasters, and moments of revelation in an uneasy America.
When Reasons to Live, Hempel's first collection, was published in 1985, readers encountered a pitch-perfect voice in fiction and an unsettling assessment of the culture. That collection includes "San Francisco," which Alan Cheuse in The Chicago Tribune called "arguably the finest short story composed by any living writer." In At the Gates of the Animal Kingdom, her second collection, frequently compared to the work of Raymond Carver, Hempel refined and developed her unique grace and style and her unerring instinct for the moment that defines a character. Also included here, in their entirety, are the collections Tumble Home and The Dog of the Marriage. As Rick Moody says of the title novella in Tumble Home, "the leap in mastery, in seriousness, and sheer literary purpose was inspiring to behold.... And yet," he continues, "The Dog of the Marriage, the fourth collection, is even better than the other three...a triumph, in fact." The Collected Stories of Amy Hempel is the perfect opportunity for readers of contemporary American fiction to catch up to one of its masters. Moody's passionate and illuminating introduction celebrates both the appeal and the importance of Hempel's work.
Amy Hempel is the author of Sing to It, The Dog of the Marriage, Tumble Home, At the Gates of the Animal Kingdom, Reasons to Live, and the coeditor of Unleashed. Her stories have appeared in Harper’s, Vanity Fair, GQ, Tin House, The Harvard Review, The Quarterly, and have been widely anthologized, including Best American Short Stories and The Best Nonrequired Reading. She teaches in the Graduate Writing Program at Bennington College, and at Stony Brook Southampton. She lives near New York City.
"It’s a given that someday a major world religion will arise from this book. It will become a religious text for our descendants, and millions will burn candles around statues of Ms. Hempel. She is a wonder. Honestly, each time you read this book it shortens your time in Purgatory and speeds your eventual salvation." —Chuck Palahniuk, for The New York Post
"This could be a very short review. Read this book. These stories are...always original and perfectly expressed." -- New York Times Book Review
"The literary event of the year." -- The Village Voice
"Amy Hempel's dazzling wit and exquisite use of language are impossible to disclaim." -- San Francisco Chronicle
"Hempel is unique. Her word-by-word virtuosity is off the charts; her artistic evolution is phenomenal." -- Chicago Tribune
"Hempel has established herself among the strongest voices in American fiction.... Hers is the work of a brave, unflinching mind.... Her prose conveys a world stripped to its essences." -- Los Angeles Times
"Over and over again, Hempel pulls out life's pathos so concisely, so extraordinarily, and yet underneath it all is affirmation.... In short, Hempel makes you into a better reader." -- San Francisco Chronicle
"A veritable cosmos of revelations is in reach in The Collected Stories of Amy Hempel." -- Chicago Tribune
"Few fiction writers are as intensely admired by their peers as is Hempel.... Hempel's is a hard-boiled sensibility, and each of her stories will leave the reader shaken." -- The Atlantic Monthly
"As gripping as any novel...Tart, shimmering fables of passion." -- The New York Observer