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Description - Darling? by Heidi Schmidt

Pert, tart, often perfect stories from the eastern seaboard of the USA. Every one of these stories is knowing, wry, sad, funny, engaging, full of unexpected detail, perceptive in the extreme. Heidi Jon Schmidt has an ear for dialogue, but more so for what is unsaid, for the huge chasms of unspoken communication in everyday life. Her heroes are the ever-so-slightly left-of-centre misfits, who are certain there is something missing from their lives but can't quite work out what. Whether her subject is an eleven-year-old girl grieving for her dog, a middle-aged man whose wife has left him and must return to live with his mother, an elderly lady whose husband has Alzheimers, a ninety-year-old revered poet, a group of talentless but wildly enthusiastic would-be novelists, she invests them with a credibility that makes one care passionately for them.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780007122882
ISBN-10: 0007122888
Format: Paperback
(197mm x 130mm x mm)
Pages: 256
Imprint: Flamingo
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publish Date: 17-Feb-2003
Country of Publication: United Kingdom

Book Reviews - Darling? by Heidi Schmidt

UK Kirkus Review » This collection of ten stories engages the reader from the very first line of the first story: 'We wanted to fly Swissair - Switzerland being neutral, the gods would never dash an airliner full of nice well-tailored Swiss people back to earth in flames.' This arch setup, deflated by the very next line, 'But the connection to Venice wouldn't work and we had to go Lufthansa', is typical of Schmidt's approach, which finds its humour in life's tragedies and disappointments. 'Disappointment' is the key word; each story deals with the way in which life consistently fails to live up to expectations. In particular, relationships between men and women, parents and children, are laden with misunderstanding and unfulfilled hopes, a reality which Schmidt finds both comic and tragic. 'Wild Rice', for example, starts with the comic premise of a creative writing class whose members are all superficially obsessed with marketing rather than writing, while the class teacher, a mildly successful writer, is unable to answer their questions. Yet it gradually emerges that every member of the class, including the teacher, has experienced loss or bereavement. The change from light to dark is a hard trick to pull off; yet Schmidt does it beautifully. She is able to find the absurd in almost every corner of life. In 'The Funeral Party', a young boy commits suicide; at his funeral, his art teacher, who had rubbished his work while he was alive, says the boy was a 'promising artist' whose work had a 'walking interiority'. In 'Fischman's Fascination', about a woman who, on the day of a Jewish friend's wedding, delightedly discovers that she too is Jewish by ancestry, Schmidt writes of 'those tears peculiar to weddings': 'tears wept at the sight of people trying to cram the immensity of hope into the very modest vessel of possibility' - a line that sums up the viewpoint of the entire collection. Every single story is written with grace and wit; there isn't one that falls short of the mark. Despite comparisons with Melissa Banks and Lorrie Moore, Schmidt's clear, eloquent voice is all her own. Expect to hear more from her. (Kirkus UK)

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Author Biography - Heidi Schmidt

Heidi Jon Schmidt lives in Provincetown, Massachusetts, where she teaches at Provincetown Arts Centre.