Nothing Right: Short Stories
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Product Description

A collection of stories from one of the New Yorker¡¯s ¡°twenty young fiction writers of the new millennium,¡± a series of unforgettable glimpses into contemporary family life.

Set in the American Southwest, and featuring one previously unpublished story, Nothing Right shows one of our best writers working at the top of her game. Antonya Nelson¡¯s stories are masterpieces: poignant, hilarious, truthful explorations of domesticity.

The artfully rendered characters in Nothing Right try to keep themselves intact as their personal lives explode around them. A mother and her teenage son finally find common ground when his girlfriend becomes pregnant. A woman leaves her husband and finds herself living with a stranger who is getting extensive plastic surgery while her best friend is dying of cancer. In ¡°Or Else,¡± one of three short stories nominated for a National Magazine Award for the New Yorker, a man brings his girlfriend to a house he claims belongs to his family, only to have his lie exposed when one of the real owners comes home to scatter her father¡¯s ashes.

These stories are sure to delight longtime fans and readers lucky enough to be just discovering Antonya Nelson.

Customer Reviews:

  • A gifted voice finds itself
    Though her writing style is quite different, some of the themes here, along with the fact that the author came up through The New Yorker, remind me of the struggles of Bobbie Ann Mason. Although I had read many of these before, it's nice having them all beetween two covers, to be savored in bite-sized chunks....more info
  • Hmmm...Very Interesting.
    I liked this book but I will say up front that it is not for everyone. It is a collection of short stories with some really unusual characters and events. Some of them are believable and some are so far-fetched that it's hard to relate. Overall, it was an interesting reading experience but not necessarily one that I would pass on to a neighbor. I can understand how many of our younger generation would be attracted to this book, but for the more "mature" reader it might be a bit over the top. Bottom line: if you like quirky books with even quirkier characters then it just might suit you to check out this collection of short stories....more info
  • Started off good and slowed down tremendously
    "Nothing Right" started off with a bang. I enjoyed reading about the mother's perspective to her son getting an older woman pregnant in "Nothing Right." "Party of One" was an interesting story about a sister who went to see the player that her sister was dating. And then the rest of the book started running together. Many stories I forgot as soon as I read them except for "We and They," which would have been an excellent short story if not for the fact that the author decided to go directly from the adopted son talking about his parents being killed to the adopted sister's boyfriend in the very next sentence. It was not a clean segue, and I was very disappointed. Timing is everything, and to set a reader up to finally hear about the parent's murder was obviously going to be interesting. The adopted sister having a boyfriend was too. But they ran together too fast so the boyfriend seemed insignificant. ...more info
  • Nothing Right
    Nothing Right: Short Stories by Antonya Nelson is an eloquintly written book of short stories with deep meaning in each one. Each could be set in any town or state. I would say that it would be nice to have this as a download for Kindle and also to be used in a book club. MS Nelson shows how we are all flawed, but how we grow stronger when we over come these flaws.

    I liked the humanity in this book and can recommend it. 4 Stars....more info
  • Complicated, thorough, and unflinching
    It's hard to read reviews of people who disregard Nelson's work because it's not 'upbeat' enough. What you have in a writer like Nelson is someone who will not pander to you, will not make life easier for you, will not perpetuate the standard lies and myths about people and relationships. Her stories are complicated and full of people who have their illusions taken away from them. Virginia Woolf once praised George Eliot saying that she was one of the few writers alive who 'wrote for adults' and I'd say the same thing about Antonya Nelson. ...more info
  • Started off good and slowed down tremendously
    "Nothing Right" started off with a bang. I enjoyed reading about the mother's perspective to her son getting an older woman pregnant in "Nothing Right." "Party of One" was an interesting story about a sister who went to see the player that her sister was dating. And then the rest of the book started running together. Many stories I forgot as soon as I read them except for "We and They," which would have been an excellent short story if not for the fact that the author decided to go directly from the adopted son talking about his parents being killed to the adopted sister's boyfriend in the very next sentence. It was not a clean segue, and I was very disappointed. Timing is everything, and to set a reader up to finally hear about the parent's murder was obviously going to be interesting. The adopted sister having a boyfriend was too. But they ran together too fast so the boyfriend seemed insignificant. ...more info
  • Nothing Right
    Nothing Right: Short Stories by Antonya Nelson is an eloquintly written book of short stories with deep meaning in each one. Each could be set in any town or state. I would say that it would be nice to have this as a download for Kindle and also to be used in a book club. MS Nelson shows how we are all flawed, but how we grow stronger when we over come these flaws.

    I liked the humanity in this book and can recommend it. 4 Stars....more info
  • Complicated, thorough, and unflinching
    It's hard to read reviews of people who disregard Nelson's work because it's not 'upbeat' enough. What you have in a writer like Nelson is someone who will not pander to you, will not make life easier for you, will not perpetuate the standard lies and myths about people and relationships. Her stories are complicated and full of people who have their illusions taken away from them. Virginia Woolf once praised George Eliot saying that she was one of the few writers alive who 'wrote for adults' and I'd say the same thing about Antonya Nelson. ...more info
  • Short n' Plenty
    Nothing Right: Short Stories is not light and fluffy fair, it's dark with glimpses of light, hard earned by the reader and the characters. It shows the darkness and the resilience of individuals and the human spirit, without resorting to heroics of chicken soup for the character's soul...Gritty and real...

    Antonya Nelson does not hand us full realized characters at the start of the story. She takes us on a perfectly paced journey of character development. The main character, in the title story "Nothing Right" is revealed in tiny little delicious bites, just as soon as you accept and can begin to relate, a little more is revealed to digest... It an interesting dichotomy - the love/hate relationship of the reader with the character and the ability to relate to them and relate to even their darkest moments that makes the short story work. I think Nelson has a brilliant and strong grasp of developing almost a tidal rhythm of character exposition.

    It's this balance, and the very real situations these characters find themselves in, that reminds me so much of Raymond Carver. There is a darkness that is given to us by Nelson, but it isn't in the least bit macabre, it is very real and human. It's a pleasure to read short stories with such intensity and characters who breathe and rage and love and hurt themselves right off the page.

    Nelson's writing style is a comfortable cadence of action, observations, dialog, and internal monologue that gives the reader the feeling of being a voyeur, a psychologist, a social worker, a friend... It also delivers the quirks and the more negative bits about the character in such perfect doses, that we can see ourselves a bit and accept the characters so that we are really on a journey with them.

    (If you like this, I also recommend Raymond Carver's collection "Where I'm calling from"...)...more info
  • Novels in Miniature
    Each of these short stories is so compacted with characterization and plot, that they resemble novels more than slices of life. The current trend in short story collections is to provide "linked" stories that have connection with one another, but these gems each stand alone, leaving the reader curious but statisfied. I find myself reading short stories more these days, and while I appreciate those of say Ali Smith and Alice Munroe, Tobias Wolfe, I found these to be more contemporary in feel and style. More like condensed Jonathan Frazer or John Irving. ...more info
  • Like Bittersweet Chocolate
    Antonya Nelson is a remarkable writer. As I read this book I was reminded of Truman Capote, "Other Voices Other Rooms." I was reminded of photographs by Diane Arbus. And Ingmar Bergman films. None of these masterpieces are easy or fun. They were never meant to be fun. But they are fabulous looks at the light within a seemingly unliveable situation.

    "Most people go through life dreading they'll have a traumatic experience. Freaks were born with their trauma. They've already passed their test in life. They're aristocrats." Diane Arbus

    As I've read reviews of this book, the critical ones, the ones that claim this is a sad horrible depressing set of stories, that nobody should have to read. I'm reminded of chocolate. There's really two kinds of chocolate, sweet milk chocolate and bittersweet dark chocolate. Those who have critisized this book probably love their chocolate sweet and easy to eat. Chocolate that coats your mouth with sugar, and leaves nothing but a sickly sweet flavor in your mouth. Somebody that enjoys this book must love bitter dark chocolate. The kind that tastes very bitter at first. But after leaving it in your mouth dissovles and leaves wonderful subtle flavors. Flavors that you can remember for a long time, not that overpowering sweetness.

    Antonya Nelson has a unique writing style. Each short story starts out in a relatively complex way. The main characters are in some situation that you might think is present time. As the story progresses, she weaves in memories or thoughts of things that happened to lead up to that very moment when the story started. She gradually, simply introduces new characters. People that orbit around the main character. It takes about 5 to 10 pages before the reader figures out what is happening in real current time. Once engaged, the story then flies off in sometimes unimaginable directions.

    Of course the reader has to be tipped off, this is not a fun book - the title is "Nothing Right." With that title there is no way to expect sugar sweet chocolate. No this will be 75% Cocoa dark chocolate. The amazing thing about her stories, they always left a wonderful taste in my mouth. Or a strong memory of how it must have felt to be these characters. The trauma they must feel every day. But yet how they take life in stride and ultimately survive, and find pleasure.

    There were two stories that baffled me, DWI and Falsetto. After about 10 pages, I still had no idea where the story was headed. The distinction between past time and present time was just not clear enough. The other 9 stories were a bittersweet pleasure to read.

    If you like your chocolate dark, this is a wonderful read. ...more info
  • Nothing Right is putting it mildy
    The three star rating does NOT accurately reflect my exact feelings about Antonya Nelson's Short Stories. Ye Gods! She is an incisive writer who made me TOTALLY believe in her characters. Heck, I think I live next door to a couple of them. And yet. . .I could barely stand to turn the next page and see Yes! how badly! they behaved, and how rarely redemption occurred. I realize expecting universal redemption in the real world is not realistic. Yet I can't help but hope against hope for it at least once or twice.
    Unabatedly depressing, yet, yet, yet. I have this sneaking feeling underneath it all, Ms. Nelson harbors a redeemingly hilarious sense of the world's tragicomedic nature. Take We and They. She describes in loving detail the utterly rivalrous lifestyles and personas of the Pierces vs. the Landerses such that we can only root for the two families to (finally) come together. Of course, they don't. And "that's how she gets you". If her reason for writing is to make one feel there is no reason to go on, kudos. If it's to give us hope that despite everything, "it's" worth it, I think with only a slight twist of the tale, she could make a successful and (at least to me) appreciated case. So, 5 stars for the writing, 1 for making me consider just throwing in the towel = 3, because basically, I'm still hanging on, and hoping for redemption.
    ...more info
  • ?
    "Nothing Right" by Antonya Nelson is a collection of short stories. I read all the praise blurbs at the front of the book, but wondered if they read what I read. This was a slow and boring read for me. I just could not get into the stories and I really tried. Well let me tell you the contents titles: Nothing Right, Party of One, OBO, Falsetto, Kansas, Biodegradable, DWI, Shauntrelle, Or Else, We and They, and People People. The author does have a way with description, for example in DWI: "Watching him choke Sadie could still recall, his wild eyes, buggy and desperate, the thick knot in his neck like the body of a mouse being digested by a snake."

    This author can write, I feel that this book just is not her best work. I do not recommend buying this book unless you scan it first. However, I would read another book written by her.
    ...more info
  • Perhaps not my type!
    This is my first time reading this authors stories. She has a knack of writing like describing an event, but her characters are all so weird. When I read a novel or a story, I would like characters that I can connect to or just pure fantasy characters. Most characters in this set of stores are like people with no feeling or remorse (So, you might either like them or totally not like them - guess there would be no middle ground). For example, this woman in 'party of one' seems to end up in relationships with married men including her sister's husband and the sister ends up helping her with one such relationship. This 'grown-up' woman in 'Biodegradable' cheats for no obvious reason (However, this was one of the stories, I remotely liked a bit). I would have liked it if the author had described some feelings for these characters as liberal as she uses F words.

    So, it's not my type! If you like stories about such sleazy characters, you might like this collection of stories....more info
  • Flawed Characters Tied In Knots
    In this collection of eleven short stories, flawed characters (mostly women), find themselves trapped in complex, depressing, often degrading situations, from which they cannot extricate themselves. A single mother with a surly teenager out of control. A pathological liar who adopts a family and then breaks into their country home. Irreconcilable conflict between siblings. A woman who divorces her husband and is then dumped by her young lover. Sometimes the situations are of their own making, sometimes not. There are flashes of wicked humor, but rarely of hope. Things just don't get better for these desperate, lost individuals.

    Author Antonya Nelson writes in high literary style--long rambling sentences that sometimes have to be read twice to yield up their meaning. As omniscient narrator she floats in and out of her characters' heads, so that we seldom see things through a consistent point of view. Still, she's a talented writer and the situations she describes are often engaging, even if the characters are hard to like.

    I must say, these stories were tedious for me and it was hard to finish most of them. Still, if you like slice-of-life literary stories, you might enjoy these. Reviewed by Louis N. Gruber...more info
  • The Kind of Stories You Read in the New Yorker
    I stopped reading this about three-quarters of the way through, but since it is a collection of short stories, I think that still qualifies me to review it. These stories were very much like those you generally read in the New Yorker, in which the main character is almost always a middle class woman who is divorced, cheating, being cheated on, or all three. There may be slight differences in the surrounding cast of characters--a delinquent teenage son, a young lover, an older lover--and the woman's age may vary slightly, though usually she hovers somewhere around fortyish, but really this is just the same character appearing over and over in different plays.

    Affairs are such standard fair in this type of story that the writer barely bothers to present a motive, nor is there much more than lip service paid to any angst or doubt the character might feel. The husbands are all not quite what they should be. The women are unsatisfied for reasons we must take on faith. The main characters are flat and not a bit compelling.

    I'd like to include more specifics, but these stories just melt together in my memory. Only one, "OBO", stands out as having had the potential to be a little different, being told from the POV of a somewhat different character. But even here, it was as though the writer felt compelled to include that middle class character, in this case a college professor, who was cheating on his wife and drank too much in order to get through the days (did I mention this was another trait many of the main characters have in common), though not quite enough to be considered an alcoholic or destroy people's lives.

    To sum it up, if you are someone who looks forward to your New Yorker each month to see what gem of new fiction they have included in that issue, you will love this. If you are one of those people who read The New Yorker and, with a few exceptions, find the stories fading from memory with the last line, don't bother with this, because it is just more of the same without the interesting articles....more info
  • Sigh...pass the Lexapro, please?
    This collection should be titled "Something Numb." This is an extremely downhearted grouping of stories that do little more than showcase the unbearability of human life. It seems as though none of the characters are happy, and when there isn't a happy person in the bunch, then there needs to be something else. However, this nothing here. Nothing right, anyway.

    The writing is good, however. Maybe future collections will be more enjoyable. ...more info
  • There is NOTHING RIGHT about this collection of stories.
    The name of this short story collection by Antonya Nelson, Nothing Right, is an extremely apt title. There is nothing right about the lives of the different characters. The stories are depressing! The description of this product states that the stories are hilarious however I really fail to find the humor in these stories. It was really hard just to finish the collection- and I usually love zipping through short story collections. What is funny about teenage pregnacy, infedelity, death, and out and out lying about one's self. It could just be me but I not only found it hard to get into the subject matter of the short stories I found nothing in the actual writing style that stood out for me. I felt many of the characters were very flat and I was unable to get into the stories. I do not recommend this anthology....more info
  • Nothing to write home about
    Antonya Nelson is a talented writer with a host of impressive publishing credits and awards, a fact which gave me pause as I considered my reaction to this collection. "Am I missing something?" swam around in my thoughts.

    The collection is aptly titled for its unrelenting tales of uncomfortable relationships, death, lies and characters constantly failing those around them or engaging in illicit affairs. Only one of the stories, "We and They," much moved me, triggering that empathy for characters that is essential in good fiction. This is not to say that the stories are exactly bad, just dissappointing and hook-free. If the world is much populated by as depressed and depressing a lot as Nelson describes, we would all have been dead of suicide long ago.

    Unable to put my finger on exactly what is missing here beyond the stir of empathy, I asked myself a different question: "Among my several friends who live with piles of books beside their beds, to whom would I recommend this book?"

    None....more info
  • Something's wrong here
    I just could not get into these stories at all. They are depressing, but usually that doesn't bother me much. The writing, in my opinion, is nothing spectacular and does not come close to the writing of great short story writers like the contemporary Jhumpa Lahiri. I was disappointed in this volume....more info