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Collected Stories

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So happy to be see all of Shirley Hazzard's wonderful short stories in one volume. This book is filled with so much sharp and witty dialogue— It was a treat to read each story one by one after dinner every evening.
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Shirley Hazzard (1931-2016), an Australian writer who had dual citizenship in the U.S. and the UK, won many awards, including The National Book Award and The Miles Franklin Award. And with the publication of her short stories and the reissue of a 1980 novel by major publishers, Hazzard is back in fashion again. 

Last fall Farrar Straus and Giroux published "Collected Stories," which comprises her two earlier story collections, "Cliffs of Fall" and "People in Glass Houses", and ten uncollected stories, eight of them published in "The New Yorker" and other magazines. I read them at my leisure, only one or two a day, because I do not like to rush short fiction. I like to consider Hazzard's elegance and the nuances of her taut phraseology.

Surprisingly, I preferred the energetic early stories. I loved “A Place in the Country,” the second story in her first collection, "Cliffs of Fall," which begins with the upacking of boxes in a country house. Hazzard shares this country house territory with Updike and Cheever: it is the place where intelligent, well-educated women read poetry and give dinner parties, while their husbands work in the city. (Perhaps Hazzard and Updike knew the same people.). And the opening of “A Place in the Country” is bound to hook avid readers and – the following is a family joke – “the people who live in Connecticut.”

“Try to keep the poetry separate,” said May. “The rest can be arranged later.” She made her way around the boxes of books and china to the doorway, and called up the stairs, “Clem, when you’re finished up there, you could help Nettie with the books.”


Not surprisingly, Clem and Nettie are having an affair. May has no idea: she is busy arranging objects in their country house, where she and the children will live for six months, while Clem works in town, coming down for an occasional weekend. Nettie is so in love that at one point she wishes – like an adolescent- that she could darn Clem’s socks. She is too young to understand marriage, and glosses over May’s potential pain: Nettie thinks the marriage must be worse than most.. But the love between Nettie and Clem turns out to be unequal. At the end of the story, Clem will tell her he should never have said he did not love his wife.

In “Forgiving,” Kate gets out of a party by saying her husband Lucas is sick. Actually, they sit in the woods, discussing Kate’s infidelity, and Kate assures him that she will never cheat again. “‘You leave me alone too much,’ she says”. Aa indeed, he does. He was away two months on a business trip in Africa. He snaps, “Well, one doesn’t go to Africa for the day, you know.”

I am especially charmed by the witty linked stories from "People in Glass Houses," set in the offices of the Organization, which is a thinly-veiled U.N. (Hazzard worked at the UN for seven years.) She gently mocks the bureaucracy, the Methods of Enforcement report and the Advisory Commission on Administrative and Budgetary Questions, the firing of a misunderstood anthropologist (Ashmole-Brown in “The Story of Miss Sadie Graine”), who then becomes a best-selling writer after he publishes the report he’d been working on at the Organization, and various other workplace events and scandals. The employees come from different countries and different backgrounds, but nobody quite understands how the Organization works, especially the idealistic character Mr. Flinders in “The Meeting,” who discovers he has taken insufficiently professional photos of people in a third-world country planting trees to stop erosion. A man with better slides has actually contributed to pollution with his mission, but no one has the background to tell the difference. 

In “The Flowers of Sorrow,” the Director-General departs from the agenda of his speech to say, “In my country, we have a song that asks, ‘Will the flowers of joy ever equal the flowers of sorrow?” The audience is flustered. Some are annoyed that there has been no mention of the proposed change in retirement, or longevity increments. One of the English interpreters is freaked-out: “It would be better not to give us a prepared text at all than to make all these departures from it.” But two of the characters, Miss Kingslake and Mr. Willoughby, feel heartened by a feeling remark that isn’t on the agenda. 

If you do not have time to read all the stories, do try "People in Glass Houses."At first I didn’t “get” them and found them dry, but the employees of The Organization now hold a special place on my mental bookshelf of workplace fiction.
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I’m not a great reader of short stories, often finding them frustrating and unsatisfactory, but this collection completely won me over. The 28 stories collected here from Australian-American writer Shirley Hazzard are without exception captivating, showing insight and a shrewd observation of relationships, insecurities  and the pain and disappointments of love and life. I read one a day, a real treat to start my mornings. The collection is divided into 3 parts. The first comprises stories from her 1936 collection Cliffs of Fall, sometimes quite brutal stories about love and connection – or lack of it. The 2nd section is from her 1967 collection People in Glass Houses and in these her humour and wit come to the fore. The tales here are sometimes considered a novel but felt more like a series of linked vignettes about life at an international organisation based on the UN, where Hazzard herself worked for a time and she casts a jaundiced eye over bureaucracy in all its absurdities. The last section comprises previously unpublished stories that are tender and often melancholy and sad. Precisely observed, nuanced and compassionate, this timeless collection as a whole made me laugh and cry in equal measure, and her calm measured style, where every word counts, is short story writing at its best.
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I must shamefully admit that I've only heard about Shirley Hazzard earlier this year through Lily King's Writers & Lovers, but made a mental note to read one of her books as soon as possible. Luckily, this volume helped me get a glimpse of her absolutely delightful writing.

Hazzard is funny in a non obvious way; the stories in "People in Glass Houses", which probably reflect her own experience at the UN, are humorous with a touch of kafkaesque absurdity. But she also manages to capture domestic conflicts in a very particular way—her characters in "Cliffs of Fall" are incredibly believable; they're mature, intellectual, they quote poetry and know about art and mythology, they're flawed and sometimes misogynistic, they have affairs or live in solitude. 

I only wished it was a collection of selected stories, but I'm just picky. 

P.S. William Maxwell really did have a nose for good storytelling.

An absolute delight, will definitely come back to this author. 
Thanks to Farrar, Straus & Giroux for an ARC of this book.
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Book Review: Collected Stories
Author: Shirley Hazzard
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Publication Date: November 3, 2020
Review Date: December 7, 2020

From the blurb:
“Collected Stories includes both volumes of the National Book Award–winning author Shirley Hazzard’s short-story collections—Cliffs of Fall and People in Glass Houses—alongside uncollected works and two previously unpublished stories.

Shirley Hazzard's Collected Stories is a work of staggering breadth and accomplishment. Taken together, these twenty-eight short stories are masterworks in telescoping focus, ranging from quotidian struggles between beauty and pragmatism to satirical send-ups of international bureaucracy, from the Italian countryside to suburban Connecticut. Hazzard's heroes are high-minded romantics who attempt to fit their feelings into the twentieth-century world of office jobs and dreary marriages. After all, as she writes in "The Picnic," "It was tempting to confine oneself to what one could cope with. And one couldn't cope with love." And yet it is the comedy, the tragedy, and the splendor of love, the pursuit and the absence of it, that animates Hazzard's stories and provides the truth and beauty that her protagonists seek. 

Hazzard once said, "The idea that somebody has expressed something, in a supreme way, that it can be expressed; this is, I think, an enormous feature of literature." Her stories themselves are a supreme evocation of writing at its very best: probing, uncompromising, and deeply felt.”
———
This book is a gem, from one of our premier authors. This is true literature. This is one of those books that I will probably come back to over and over. I believe short stories are quite difficult to write, and Shirley Hazzard is a genius in this genre. I highly, highly recommend for those who love to read short stories. An absolutely phenomenal collection.

Thank you to Farrar, Straus and Giroux for giving me access to this book. Best of luck to Shirley Hazzard in her literary career.

This review will be posted on NetGalley, Goodreads and Amazon.

#netgalley #collectedstories #shirleyhazzard #farrarstrausandgiroux #shortstories
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I read this because a NY Times book reviewer gave such a stellar review. There isn't much I can add to this: 
https://www.nytimes.com/2020/11/02/books/review-collected-stories-shirley-hazzard.html

But I too love this entertaining collection of stories about pompous adulterers, jilted lovers, and UN wonks. She writes beautifully of so many different places in the world, from Italy to Hong Kong and many points in between.
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I had never heard of this author prior to reading this book, but I felt drawn into the stories and these are still current even for today's times.  The character development and the situations in the book are well developed and very intense at times.  I am glad that I took the opportunity to enjoy these and discover these works.  Thanks for the ARC, NetGalley.
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Collected Stories is a book of twenty-eight works of short fiction by award-winning Australian author, Shirley Hazzard. Eighteen have been previously published in two volumes: Cliffs of Fall and People in Glass Houses, while eight are uncollected and two, previously unpublished.

The first ten stories are virtually devoid of any trace of joy, or any hint of humour; in fact, the first two stories, concerning older men taking advantage of young women, are particularly depressing. One young woman muses: “She reflected that in love one can only win by cheating and that the skill is to cheat first. (Having coveted neither the advantage nor the skill, however, she had no justification for disputing—as she did—the defeat that confronted her.)”

Hazzard’s descriptive prose is often beautiful, and her characters are complex, but whether people really spoke that way in the late 1950s, only a reader of a certain vintage and class could comment. Some of these stories feel unfinished, rather more like the first chapter of a longer work.

Hazzard’s work at the UN certainly authenticates the second collection, People In Glass Houses. These eight stories, satires on bureaucracy, feel more complete, and various characters appear in each other’s stories, the whole being set mostly in Geneva at the offices of “The Organization”. While there is humour in them (DALTO, the Department of Aid to the Less Technically Oriented. The work of this department— to induce backward nations to come forward, with sections like Forceful Implementation of Peace Treaties and Peaceful Uses of Atomic Weapons), by the time the reader reaches Sadie Graine, boredom and skimming may well set in.

The remaining ten stories are, except for some, pleasant enough reads, and Hazzard is skilled at portrayals of moments of crisis and understanding of the relationships between men and women. She throws her characters into situations and records their reactions, so the result is very much dialogue and inner monologue driven. As with Anne Tyler novels, not much happens, but Tyler does it better, or at least with more appeal to the common reader. A mixed bag.
This unbiased review is from an uncorrected proof copy provided by NetGalley and Farrar, Straus & Giroux.
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These are adult stories. These people pay their bills on time, always have a full tank of gas and enjoy vacations. 

This writing is rich and decadent. I'm so glad I was able to read these. 

Thank you to netGalley and the publishers for the opportunity to read and review.
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This is a collection that draws together all Shirley Hazards’s short stories. Most were published from the first selected in 1959 by an American literary magazine and running into the 1970s.  Some readers will have appreciated her novels (when re-published by Virago); these were often years in the creation and during these she might publish excerpts. These “stories” are not included here. The collection has been divided into two obvious categories by type and then followed by her previously unpublished pieces. 
One strand could be described as “personal” lifestyle stories and usually presented from a woman’s perspective. They tend to cover love and marriage, that surely do not always run together and if so not for long. They are stories of their time and show the restricted lifestyles and cultural norms that women then operated within. Marriage was the default expectation and children to follow. Obviously women start “single” and to meet this marriage requirement would need to negotiate a prospective husband – and then of course put up with him for the well known “better or worse”. Some would not marry at all, leaving them to survive in a financially skewed world with its own challenges. Cutting across these principles are of course the issues (problems?) of “love” and maybe sexual desire and “the first love” against deeper experience. These stories are placed across many countries and we are given a wry view of people in these situations. Hazard seemingly stands outside them and you can see the questioning of their behaviour alongside the thoughts of some at least of the women themselves. Offset against the often uncomfortable pictures of faded love, lack of loyalty, discontent or quiet unhappiness are the landscapes and settings presented in detail with certainty that evokes the colours, scents and weather. These are usually exquisite, settled, positive or beautiful – “right”- that contrasts with the human discontent.
The second cluster of - potentially linked - stories show the daily life of people working in an organisation – that might reflect the vagaries of the UN at that time. In these Hazard outperforms Orwell’s creation of 1984 by taking real life and just tweaking that a minor step forward (one would hope) to show how restrictive regulations in the hands of the small minded can become a subverted process rather than the means to an end of a broader organisation. She shows the nature of hierarchies and who can rise to the top, the daily failure in process of the broader “intentions” of an organisation, and petty mindedness, corruption and inertia – but of course the impact on the employees who to try and deal with, change or survive in such a monstrosity. But the cleverness of the tale is that anybody who has worked in any organisation will have met some or all of what is shown here, so it is totally believable, just as the unkindness of it all is hard to read. But she never forgets that the organisation is the people, so it that is how she centres her stories as they tells of the minutiae of daily life and how people coped the frankly bizarre and ridiculous.
Hazard was a brilliant writer and matches her insight of people to her eye for and presentation of detail. These are not theoretical tales but ones of people that ring true through personal experience at either first or second hand. It should be said that the first selection probably need to be browsed rather than read in one sitting, because they often speak of uncomfortable things. But an opportunity to gather and read see so much of Hazard’s fine writing that still stands the test of time is not one to be missed.
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What the world needs now is more books by outstanding Australian authors, and here we are given a treasure trove.
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Hazzard  is a  wonderful  writer--    I  was  glad  of  the  opportunity  to  revisit  her  work.  However,  unless  a   short  story  collection  is  sturctured  around  interlinked  stories  like   Olive  Kitteridgel,  it's  most  enjoyable  to  read  if  you can  browse  and  read  a few  stories  at  a  time.   Unfortunately  this  galley  edition doesn't  permit  you  to   click  to  your  last  page or  a  title  you want  to  read at a  particular  time.  Consequently   I    ended  up   reading  some  but  not all  Hazzard's  stories
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These decadent stories, I found, were very satisfying served morning after morning with my coffee.  There's a sunny, transcendent quality to them - a world where everyone has perfect diction and visits the tailor with regularity. An alternate world where I sit up straight and always wash my face. Dense and elegant.
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Harold - The First Short Story of Shirley Hazzard.  - A Parisian Couple on Vacation in Seina - First Published in The New Yorker in 1962 

A First Look at The Forthcoming Collected Short Stories of Shirley Hazzard 

“Harold” is included  in Cliff of Falls and other stories and in The Collected Short Stories of Shirley Hazzard 

Shirley Hazzard

Born January 30, 1930 Sidney, Australia 

1963 to 1994 - Married to Francis Steegmuller - A highly regarded Flaubert scholar (They met at a party hosted by Muriel Spark in New York City.)

The Transit of Venus - 1980 - her most famous book

The Great Fire - 2003 - Natiinal Book Award - Best Novel


Dies - December 12, 2016 - New York City

From The Paris Review - “She has written five novels (The Great Fire, 2003; The Transit of Venus, 1980; The Bay of Noon, 1970; People in Glass Houses, 1967; and The Evening of the Holiday, 1966), a collection of stories (Cliffs of Fall, 1963), a memoir (Greene on Capri, 2000), and two books of nonfiction (Countenance of Truth, 1990 and Defeat of an Ideal, 1973), all of them ablaze with technical perfection and moral poise.”.

My Research indicates she and her husband spent considerable time in Paris but I did not find the exact dates. She was deeply read in French literature.

Farrar, Straus and Giroux in Publishing (September 2020) in Publishing The Collected Short Stories of Shirley Hazzard has done a great service to lovers of very high quality Short Stories.

“Collected Stories includes both volumes of the National Book Award–winning author Shirley Hazzard’s short-story collections—Cliffs of Fall and People in Glass Houses—alongside uncollected works and two previously unpublished stories

“Including twenty-eight works of short fiction in all, Shirley Hazzard’s Collected Stories is a work of staggering breadth and talent. Taken together, Hazzard’s short stories are masterworks in telescoping focus, “at once surgical and symphonic” (The New Yorker), ranging from quotidian struggles between beauty and pragmatism to satirical sendups of international bureaucracy, from the Italian countryside to suburban Connecticut. “. From The Publisher.

“Harold” was her first published Short Story.  William Maxwell was so impressed in his acceptance letter asked her to send them all future stories.

This wonderful story centers on a French family on their annual Holiday at pensione in Siena, Italy. 

“Bernard Tourner was as lean and astringent as his wife, Monique, was plump and soft—a dove in her gray dress. For many years they had come from Paris to spend their summers at this pensione, and each morning they would disappear in their little ancient car for an excursion to Arezzo or Volterra, or simply into the Chianti hills, returning as children return from a trip to the seaside, refreshed and exhausted and painfully sunburned.”

Readers of Katherine Mansfield will have fond memories brought to mind by this story of a life in a pensione, watching the interactions of the residents.  Among the other guests are an English couple, there three sons, an Italian painter as well as guests of unknown background.   The guests eat their meals in common.  It seems most are repeat guests.  This year they are joined by a woman and her son, maybe 16.  The son will play an essential part in the close of the story.

Here is The French man contrasts his country versus Italy:

““You see how it is,” said Bernard, with a faint smile. “In this country everything has been done, as it were—even this landscape has been done to the point where one becomes a detail in a canvas. And they all know too much. In Italy one is almost too much at ease, too well understood ; all summer here I feel that nothing new can happen, nothing can surprise or call our capacities into question; that none of us can add anything.” “Does this mean we shan’t see you here next year?” asked Dora, laughing because Bernard had come there for so many years..... “I simply mean that in our countries one must still be prepared for a few surprises, but here all experience is repetition, and that gives one an outrageous sense of proportion. That’s why we feel so comfortable—why we find it so attractive to come here. After all, France is certainly as beautiful as this”—Bernard included the Italian peninsula in a brief gesture.”

Hazzard brings out national identies in a very subtle way.  We see how Parisian couple view Italy and England.  

This is is just a perfect story.  I see why William Maxwell wanted more of her work.

Mel u
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A phenomenal collection of short stories by the iconic Shirley Hazzard. A book to dip in and out of choose any gem of a story Brit back and enjoy.#netgalley#fsg
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