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Description - Granta 118: Exit Strategies by John Freeman

Be it a wrong turn, a bad relationship, a debilitating illness or a war, every action creates a reaction, every move is followed by another move. How do we get out of what we've gotten ourselves into?

Granta 118 zooms in close on the phenomenon of the exit strategy. In a new story, Alice Munro writes of an elderly woman whose attempts to care for her husband are undermined by her own deteriorating thought processes; Claire Messud searches for her father's past in Beirut, Lebanon as he lays dying in a hospital in the US; and Aleksandar Hemon remembers the importance of smuggling his family's dog out of war-torn Sarajevo.

Exit Strategies also features new writing by John Barth, Gish Jen, Ann Beattie, and newcomer Chinelo Okparanta - examining how we get ourselves out and the repercussions that follow. Hindsight is 20/20, but it's what we do moving forward that defines us and - in the best of all worlds - redeems us.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9781905881550
ISBN-10: 190588155X
Format: Paperback / softback
(210mm x 146mm x 20mm)
Pages: 256
Imprint: Granta Magazine
Publisher: Granta Magazine
Publish Date: 1-Feb-2012
Country of Publication: United Kingdom

Book Reviews - Granta 118: Exit Strategies by John Freeman

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Book Review: Granta 118: Exit Strategies by John Freeman - Reviewed by (14 Feb 2012)

I always thought that Douglas Adams's dolphins had the perfect exit line: " So long, and thanks for all the fish" . But was that part of an exit strategy? My dictionary defines 'strategy' in terms of the art of war, planning, and self-protection, but Granta's interpretation of it is much broader. It covers, as the advertising blub tells us, "how we get ourselves out and the repercussions that follow", which includes war but also the contemplation and remembering of many different sorts of endings, such as the end of a writing career, of a love affair, dying, memory loss, extradition and environmental disaster.

As always, the pieces chosen for this issue are unconventional, entertaining, thought-provoking and well-written. The writers, photographer and poets come from many different backgrounds, cultures and countries. Some are well known, like John Barth, who wonders whether a recent hiatus in his writing after fifty-three years of being published is 'The End?'. Clearly not! Others are newer voices, like Jacob Newberry, whose 'Summer' explores the uncertainties of gay friendship.

Some pieces are factual or based on fact. Susan Minot's,'Thirty Girls', tells the story of Sister Giulia, a Catholic nun caught up in the kidnapping of her schoolgirl charges by the Lord's Resistance Army in northern Uganda. Other pieces are pure fiction. David Long's, 'Bonfire', reads like a young man's erotic fantasy remembered years later when the domesticity of marriage and children dominate his life. Claire Messud deals with her own feelings when a writing commission takes her away from her dying father to Beirut, where, with only a sketch-map hastily drawn by him from memory, she tries to find the places where he spent his happy childhood. And Vanessa Manko imagines an interview and the resulting deportation from the U.S.A of a Russian man during the roundups of supposed communists and anarchists in the early 1920s.

Stacy Kranitz's poignant photographs of a family living on the disappearing Isle de Jean Charles in the Gulf of Mexico, show the effects of the world's rapidly rising sea-levels. And four very different poems explore endings, searches, losses and the puzzle of life. The poetry is not easy, but like all good poetry it condenses powerful emotions and thoughts into brief, vivid experiences for the reader.

And there is much more. The complete list of contents can be seen on the Granta website at www.granta.com/Archive/Exit-Strategies, where you will also find additional exit-strategies posted on the Granta blog and a range of sample pieces from the Granta archive.

Reviewed by Ann Skea (ann@skea.com. http://ann.skea.com/).


Author Biography - John Freeman

John Freeman has been editor of Granta since 2009. He is the author of The Tyranny of E-Mail and former president of the National Book Critics Circle. His criticism has appeared in the New York Times, the Guardian and the Independent.

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