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A Hand Reached Down to Guide Me: Stories and a novella

av David Gates

MedlemmarRecensionerPopularitetGenomsnittligt betygOmnämnanden
563457,675 (3.36)2
A Hand Reached Down to Guide Me is populated by characters, young or old or neither, who are well educated, broadly knowledgeable, often creative and variously accomplished, whether as a doctor or a composer, an academic or a journalist. And every one of them carries a full supply of the human condition: parents in assisted-living-or assisted-dying-facilities, too many or too few people in their families and marriages, the ties that bind a sometimes messy knot, age an implacable foe, impulses pulling them away from comfort into distraction or catastrophe. Terrifyingly self-aware, they refuse to go gently-even when they're going nowhere fast, in settings that range across the metropolitan and suburban Northeast to the countryside of upstate New York and New England.… (mer)
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More superb stories. At first I was disappointed that the characters in most are wrestling with similar issues, but then realized that's no different from Cheever or others who stick to their turf and keep digging deeper and deeper into the rich soil. He's astute and unsparing and just a little bit cynical and condescending toward his characters. Great short tales. ( )
  wordloversf | Aug 14, 2021 |
Probably the closest work to Cheever in a modern world. Loads of drinking and bad decisions. Fantastic work that'll remain on my shelf. ( )
  kvschnitzer | Dec 8, 2019 |
These are not happy little stories. Not that stories need to be happy, of course, but these are depressing in the “this is how life is” kind of way. These are upper class people, for the most part- academics, artists, writers, architects- all people who are well educated. These are people who read Shakespeare to unwind and are too high brow to watch TV- even public TV. These are also people who are very self-aware, which makes you wonder why they continue with their self-destructive behaviors, knowing where it will lead them.

For these are people who seem to be all about sex and drugs and alcohol- but no rock and roll; they listen only to classical. Or perhaps some early jazz. They never met an impulse they didn’t like, and they follow through on them pretty much every time. A lot of the main characters are fighting against aging, and the disappointment of not having lived the lives they feel they deserved. They will not go gently into that good night; they will go staggering and slurring, with bottles of Viagra clutched in their hands as they reach for the next young sexual conquest, talking wittily the whole while.

The stories are arranged in a progression; they work their way through sex, to drugs and alcohol, and finally make it to illness and death. Only the last story-the title story, the death story- ends on a hopeful note, with people acting for the long run rather than the immediate impulse. The characters are nearly interchangeable story to story; person who fails in their profession, aging person trying to hold back time by having sex with younger people, person who has spouse but can’t resist having sex with other people, person who drinks too much/does speed/does heroin/smokes too much pot. I suppose the point of the stories is that we’re all, even the most respected of us, animals when it comes down to it.

The stories may be devoid of likable characters, but they are brilliantly written, rather as if noir was written by intellectuals. I think the self-awareness of the narrators makes the stories different from most. They compel a person to keep reading; it’s like being held by a tale at a cocktail party, held by an ancient mariner in tweed. ( )
  lauriebrown54 | Apr 14, 2015 |
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A Hand Reached Down to Guide Me is populated by characters, young or old or neither, who are well educated, broadly knowledgeable, often creative and variously accomplished, whether as a doctor or a composer, an academic or a journalist. And every one of them carries a full supply of the human condition: parents in assisted-living-or assisted-dying-facilities, too many or too few people in their families and marriages, the ties that bind a sometimes messy knot, age an implacable foe, impulses pulling them away from comfort into distraction or catastrophe. Terrifyingly self-aware, they refuse to go gently-even when they're going nowhere fast, in settings that range across the metropolitan and suburban Northeast to the countryside of upstate New York and New England.

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