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Family Dancing: Stories [Mass Market Paperback]

Leavitt David
3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Book Description

1 Dec 1991
From the author of THE LOST LANGUAGE OF CRANES, EQUAL AFFECTIONS and THE PAGE TURNER, a collection of short stories which tell of middle-class America, and the lives of its people.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Product details

  • Mass Market Paperback
  • Publisher: Warner Books (1 Dec 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0446393266
  • ISBN-13: 978-0446393263
  • Product Dimensions: 16.8 x 10.7 x 1.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,420,004 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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'A perfect collection' -- Elle

'Accomplished, subtle, shrewd, elegant and often funny excursions into the messy world of relationships' -- IRISH TIMES

'He carefully unravels skeins of sensibility in these nine brightly knitted stories ... impressive' -- NEW STATESMAN

'Remarkably gifted' -- WASHINGTON POST --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Neil's mother, Mrs. Campbell, sits on her lawn chair behind a card table outside the food co-op. Read the first page
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Short stories 11 April 2012
By Nogsy
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Having enjoyed lost language of cranes I thought the short stories might interest me but I found they left me unfulfilled and wanting to know more about the characters they introduced. Some of the themes also felt rather dated.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.3 out of 5 stars  13 reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars early Leavitt work shows some brilliance... 22 Dec 2002
By lazza - Published on
'Family Dancing' is a collection of short stories written by David Leavitt when he was in his early twenties. It is remarkable thata young man can write with such sensitivity. The prose is very fluid, and the characterizations are quite realistic. Quite remarkable considering these are *short* stories, not novels. However these stories are somewhat uneven in their overall quality, and I think I know why.
David Leavitt is best known for writing gay fiction. In 'Family Dancing' about a third of the stories are gay-themed. But I find the gay characters in these stories, and even in his fine novel 'The Lost Language of Cranes', to be very two-dimensional. However Leavitt's observations of parents coping with dysfunctional lives, marriages, and children to be most affecting. In 'Family Dancing' there are a couple of simply wonderful, extremely moving stories about people living with cancer. These stories alone are worth the price of this book.
Bottom line: a mixed bag containing treasures. Recommended.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The writing in Family Dancing is brilliant throughout. 7 Oct 1996
By A Customer - Published on
In "The Lost Cottage," one of the stories in David Leavitt's
debut collection, Family Dancing, the son of divorced parents
dreams up names for the family's summer house: "Desperate
Efforts," he thinks, or "Under the Weather." The names which
he lists are just as appropriate as nicknames for the various
men who people Leavitt's stories: the travelling Mr. Campbell
of one story is "Seldom Inn"; the faithless Herb of another
story experiences several "Weak Moments"; and there is the
pathetic Allen who is "Beyond Hope." All the fathes in
Leavitt's stories are weak men, and they have all disappointed
or betrayed the other members of their families.
Because of the shortcomings of the menfolk, there is
not one successful marriage in these stories and there are
many victims of the broken homes. In Leavitt-town, we meet
fat, shy daughters and gaunt homosexual sons; we see marriages
which are dead or dying; we watch parents who feel varying
degrees of guilt, and children who experience differing
amounts of anxiety. These tales show us that in order to
have healthy children, one needs a stable home. There are
so many threats to the home, both medical (many characters
suffer from cancer) and emotional, that the children wind up
as experience-devouring narcissists. Ironicially, in many
stories it is the emotional force which splinters the family
that acts to hold some semblance of a family together. Disappointment,
anger, and jealousy are, after all, combinations of love and hate.
The writing in Family Dancing is brilliant throughout.
Considering the fact that David Leavitt was just 23 years old
when he wrote this collection, it is surprising to find so many
stories that ring true. In "Danny In Transit," a young boy turns
more and more to television as his father's shortcomings become
evident. In "Territory," a mother, president of Parents of Lesbians
and Gays, reveals that her tolerance does not extend to actually
seeing her son with another man. And in "Family Dancing,"
the title story, we see a troubled family going through a
figurative ballet before finally engaging in a slow, circular
dance on a makeshift dancefloor. Leavitt is a master of the
metaphor, and he is liberal in presenting us with poignant
Although many stories are depressing, there are a few
glimmers of hope in Leavitt-town. As the fathers fail their
children, the power of imagination can help to save them. In
"Out Here," it is the daughter who plays at being a horse
and who has rejected the traiditional nuclear family who seems
to bear the least scars from her parents' deaths. In another
story, it is another creative daughter, Nina, who has imagined
her own salvation at the hands of interplanetary aliens. These
children still have hopes for the future, and they are the
only fruits of what would otherwise have been fruitless marriages.
This collection of stories must be understood within
the new tradition of "private interest fiction." This is
the sort of writing being done by Raymond Carver, Bobbie Anne
Mason, and Frederick Barthelme, and which focuses primarily
on relationships within a family. These new writers are
moving away from political life and toward the failed rooms
and broken vases of the merely personal. Indeed, it's
all here: love, lust, General Hospital. Yes, there is love,
and it is the type of love which reminds us that Eros is sore
spelled backwards. Yes, some of these characters melt with
lust, although they often begin to go soft at room temperature.
And yes, there is General Hospital, but even David Leavitt
can not tell us whether Monica is good or bad.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Couldn't Please Me More 3 Jun 2002
By Curtis Lane - Published on
Leavitt is one of the true modern masters of the short story--it is ashame his novels aren't quite as well done. Here is where Leavitt launched his career, to justified critical delight. These stories are near perfection--and our of a writer in his early 20s!--with well-drawn characters and serious themes, though sometimes playful treatments. Leavitt's preoccupations seem to be with the family, homosexuality, and cancer, but he has yet to make any of these topics stale. Highly recommended.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful Collection of Short Stories About Gay Men 6 Jun 2009
By Bonnie Brody - Published on
This book is a wonderful collection of short stories about gay men. It is much more articulate and well-crafted that Leavitt's novel The Lost Language of Cranes: A Novel. I especially enjoyed 'Aliens', 'Danny in Transit' and 'Territory'. My favorite story in the collection was 'Dedicated', about a young woman who is drawn to, and used as a buffer, by two gay men.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars the family exposed 16 Nov 2000
By M. H. Bayliss - Published on
Reading these poignant stories is like watching 15 or so different versions of American Beauty. Beneath the surface in almost every family lie illness, infidelity, betrayals and anger. This is his first collection of stories and they make for an excellent collection. I had read his later books first like The Lost Language of Cranes which I think are stronger overall, but as a first collection, these stories are revealing.
Leavitt has a knack for exposing the underside of family relations. Many of his stories focus on husbands who leave their wives, but just as many focus on the effect these family disputes have on the children. Overall, these stories will leave you with a feeling of sadness -- he touches many nerves from cancer to men coming to terms with their sexuality, to abandoned sisters and brothers. I think Leavitt is a very sensitive writer with an eye for the problems that plague 20th century families.
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