The Best of Animals

By Lauren Grodstein
(Persea Books, Hardcover, 9780892552818, 224pp.)

Publication Date: June 2002

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The protagonists of the ten stories in this charming, highly affecting collection may be a familiar bunch -- young, bright, literate -- but the way in which their lives are documented is anything but typical. With unusual compassion and nimble prose, Lauren Grodstein gives us some of the most appealing characters in recent memory, each one consumed by conflicting feelings of passion and inertia, as well as a vague suspicion that life holds some yet-to-be-delivered punch line, which will shed light on it all.

Grodstein has the striking capacity to locate instances of true human vulnerability in her writing, and to portray the pathos, humor, and surprising moments of hope therein. In "Lonely Planet, " an ad exec halfheartedly consoles and then desperately fondles her drunken best friend after a breakup; in "Family Vacation, " etiquette breaks down among relatives stuck in an immobilized monorail at Disney World; and, in "Hey, Beautiful, " a college senior can't take the heat in that epicenter of self-loathing and humiliation -- the singles bar. Throughout The Best of Animals, Grodstein gives us teens and twentysomethings frozen in the headlights of oncoming adulthood. This first collection, full of implicit insight, marks the emergence of a fresh literary voice.

About the Author
Lauren Grodstein is the author of the collection The Best of Animals and a novel, Reproduction Is the Flaw of Love, which was both a Breakout Book selection for and a Borders Original Voices pick. Her work has been translated into German, Italian and French. She teaches creative writing at Rutgers University in Camden.
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