Description - How Aliens Think by Judith Grossman
Here are stories of the strange ways--sexual and cultural, sweet or sour--in which people perform their humanity. Some live out the roles their families have assigned to them--the kind or cruel aunts, the straight or bent uncles. More break away and reinvent themselves, either through impersonation or by making new lives in another country. Common to all the stories is the "outsider," through all the various registers--political, social, sexual--that the word can imply. The worlds these stories create are the dreamlike, shattered landscapes where alien cultures collide and coexist, inhabited by characters who are alien to one another and to themselves. Meet, for example, Clara Diamant, "a rising academic star in her early thirties," who seems a model of innocence while studying and espousing postmodern theories of perversion. Or Robby, whose love for a young boy dying of tuberculosis is viewed through the uncomprehending and yet uncannily suspicious eyes of his wife. There is also the narrator of "A Wave of the Hand," who gradually comes to realize that her father is a woman. (She takes this bit of news remarkably well.)
The author, herself, slips in and out of these fictions, which weave back and forth across the track of her own life. Born in England, she came to the United States in the sixties and carried the alien's green card for two decades. Drawing on the varied resources of history, invention, and memoir, these are tales of the alien as Other--and also as Oneself. Praise for Her Own Terms: "Replicates for the reader the confusion, the sense of dislocation from self, the inability to recognize what is demeaning, self-denying, that many women experienced who grew up and were educated in the '50s and early '60s. Its achievement is that it does this without cant, without dogma, without a grain of self-pity."--Sue Miller, New York Times Book Review "No matter how brilliant the minds at Oxford, Judith Grossman seems to be saying, they're in the service of a system unspeakably cruel to the lower classes and to women ...Mothers, grandmothers, buy this one for your daughters."--Carolyn See, Los Angeles Times "Sophisticated, original, literary fictions ...How Aliens Think is a remarkable collection that challenges the overlooked corners of questions of identity and displacement, and does so with great intelligence and acuity.
"--Susan Daitch, Boston Review "Carrying on in the tradition of her wry 1988 novel Her Own Terms, Judith Grossman has produced a collection of stories about interludes of disjunction within the world and the self ...They shed subtle illumination on a reassuring truth: we are all aliens at one time or another--perhaps to ourselves even more than to others."--Melanie Rehak, New York Times Book Review "A polished balance of deadpan wit and understated emotional intensity. In precise, economical prose, Grossman depicts a generation of transatlantic drifters--mostly academics and writers who fled their modest postwar English subdivisions for the U.S. as soon as they came of age in the early '60s--and their self-sacrificing, unfulfilled, working-class parents. Yet Grossman's characters are alien not so much because they are adrift in a foreign country or members of an inferior class, but because they are mute observers, shut off from the world by their own inability to communicate honestly with those around them ...The strength of her best stories is not so much in their revelations as in the frank, intelligent, unassuming characters who populate them."
--Publishers Weekly "Judith Grossman's fiction has carnal voltage and comic acuity, a ringing lyricism and an edgy intellectual force. These stories enter the universal theater of human impostors, family treasons, and the workplace ethos and eros; they evoke timeless events that seem ancient even as they reflect our contemporary upheavals. How Aliens Think pulls the reader face-front before a lucid mirror that explodes in a splashing sheet of recognition."--Maria Flook, author of Open Water and My Sister Life: The Story of My Sister's Disappearance
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(216mm x 139mm x 18mm)
Johns Hopkins University Press
Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press
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Book Reviews - How Aliens Think by Judith Grossman
Author Biography - Judith Grossman
Judith Grossman is the author of a novel, Her Own Terms, a 1998 New York Times Outstanding Book. She teaches in the Writing Seminars program at the Johns Hopkins University and in the M.F.A. Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College.