Secrets & Surprises
By Ann Beattie
(Vintage, Paperback, 9780679731931, 320pp.)
Publication Date: May 7, 1991
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These fifteen stories by Ann Beattie garnered universal critical acclaim on their first publication, earning Beattie the reputation as the most celebrated new voice in American fiction. Today these stories -- "A Vintage Thunderbird;" "The Lawn Party, " " La Petite Danseuse de Quatorze Ans," to name a few -- seem even more powerful, and are read and studied as classics of the short-story form. Spare and elegant, yet charged with feeling and with the tension of things their characters cannot say, they are masterly portraits of improvised lives.
Born in 1947, Ann Beattie grew up in the suburbs of Washington, D.C., attended college at American University, and went on to do graduate work in English literature at the University of Connecticut. She began writing stories out of frustration with her doctoral work. After rejecting twenty-two submissions, The New Yorker published Beattie's "A Platonic Relationship" in 1974, and Beattie became a regular contributor to the magazine. Her first collection of stories, Distortions, and her first novel, Chilly Scenes of Winter, appeared simultaneously in 1976 and initiated a long-standing critical debate as to whether Beattie's greater strength is in the story or the novel. All critics agree, however, on the uniqueness of her style and her uncanny ability to expose certain truths about contemporary life, particularly as it lived by those of her own generation and social class. She lives in Maine and Key West with her husband, the painter Lincoln Perry.
"Powerful and plausible...Beattie is a remarkable talent."--Chicago Sun-Times
"Ann Beattie's stories are the most perceptive since Salinger's. They are not just good writing, not just true to life; they have wonder in them and vision." -- Mary Lee Settle
"Talented and sensitive...works of vivid honesty and insight."-- Washington Post
Also by Ann Beattie, available in Vintage Contemporaries: Chilly Scenes of Winter, Distortions, Falling in Place, Love Always, Picturing Will