Monday, January 11, 2016

The State We’re In by Ann Beattie review – short story maven is still a true original

In her first new collection in a decade, the US writer wrongfoots the reader with understated power

Ann Beattie
‘Off-kilter insight’: Ann Beattie.
When short-story specialist Ann Beattie rose to prominence in the 1970s, her originality and ability to capture the flavour and disposition of the times led to the idea of a “Beattie generation”; decades later, what makes her so influential is still clear. The 15 stories in this collection, her first in a decade, are centred on Maine, tucked high up in America’s north-eastern corner, home to affluent coast dwellers and host to all manner of visitors. In Beattie’s understated but powerful vignettes, “time-warp hippies cross paths with people who live in brownstones and don’t have to think about money”; a bored teenager is dispatched to stay with her aunt and uncle and rebels by streaking her hair pink; a writer comes to quiz an elderly woman about her experiences of Truman Capote and Robert Lowell. Dense with off-kilter insight and suggestive characterisation, these are pieces that wrongfoot you in the best way.
The State We’re In is published by Granta (£12.99). 

No comments: