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Short Stories: Five Decades (Phoenix Fiction) [Paperback]

Irwin Shaw
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
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Book Description

1 Dec 2000 Phoenix Fiction
Featuring sixty-three stories spanning five decades, this superb collection-including "Girls in Their Summer Dresses," "Sailor Off the Bremen," and "The Eighty-Yard Run"-clearly illustrates why Shaw is considered one of America's finest short-story writers.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 764 pages
  • Publisher: University of Chicago Press; University of Chicago Press Ed edition (1 Dec 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0226751287
  • ISBN-13: 978-0226751283
  • Product Dimensions: 23 x 15 x 4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 776,926 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

About the Author

Irwin Shaw (1913-1984) grew up in New York City and graduated from Brooklyn College in 1934. He is the playwright of Bury the Dead, and the author of twelve novels, among them Rich Man, Poor Man, The Troubled Air, Nightwork, Acceptable Losses, Evening in Byzantium and The Young Lions, the last published by the University of Chicago Press.

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The pass was high and wide and he jumped for it, feeling it slap flatly against his hands, as he shook his hips to throw off the halfback who was diving at him. Read the first page
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Astonishing - bow to the real master 21 Jun 2009
Shaw is not only criminally underrated as a writer full stop, but it turns out that he is one of the very best short story writers ever to have written in the English language. He is right up there with Tobias Woolf, Ray Carver, Ernest Hemingway, Richard Yates, James Joyce. What the hell - he may be the best actually! 60 stories here and they are remorselessly first rate. Shaw always has something important to say. He has piercing intelligence, wisdom and enormous literary craft, but always makes light of it. Nobody writes dialogue (especially that of the Brooklyn working man) better. Shaw is easy to read because he worked so hard at his unfussy prose and structure. Everything is always done in service of the tale and not to show off. "Eighty Yard Run", "Girls in their Summer Dresses" and "Night Birth and Opinion" are just some of the gems here. Unforgettable stories and characters.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Almost Complete 17 Jan 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
A beautiful volume even though previously used. Shaw writes so succinctly and two-thirds of his total short stories output is contained here but it is a shame another volume was not issued with the remainder. But what I have in this wonderfully preserved and presented volume is truly magnificent. Thank You
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a "Small Saturday" - but a really Big satire! 16 Mar 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Read it (in translation) in the 80's, when under the "Cold War" only a few American novelists were not band by the censorship. Irwin Shaw's stile is hilarious. Re-reading now - in original I can't help but admire his satire "Small Saturday". Such a nice read! Warmly recommend it to anyone wanting to have a laughable "small Saturday" afternoon. Forget social networks, mobile phones and bubs, just sit and read. You won't regret a minute!
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Amazon.com: 4.6 out of 5 stars  27 reviews
21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A common man looks at half a century 23 Aug 2006
By Brandon Mann - Published on Amazon.com
A poor man's Cheever, Irwin Shaw was a man of his times, and his writing reflects the issues faced by the "common man" from the 1930s through the 1970s. He reminds us that not everybody in America was rich and ennui-infected. "The Eighty-Yard Run" is his classic study of the effects of the Depression on one man's marriage and his sense of self. "Sailor Off the Bremen" depicts a brutal act of vengence committed under the guise of political activism, "The Passion of Lance Corporal Hawkins" shows us an equally violent incident in the birth of Israel, "Main Currents of American Thought" looks at a hack writer in the age of radio, and "Act of Faith" is an optimistic if cautious affirmation of American values. "The Girls in Their Summer Dresses," with its breezy prediction of a new husband's sad and faithless future, was said to have been John F. Kennedy's favorite short story. Shaw's words have a masculine beauty to them, while his plots are precise and honed.
17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Best Short Stories We've All Forgotten 4 April 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Why have we forgotten this guy? "The Eighty Yard Run" is the greatest short story ever written! And that's just one of the many wonderful stories in this big volume. To think that it's out of print is almost criminal. John F. Kennedy was a fan of Irwin Shaw and you should be, too! Irwin Shaw wrote "Rich Man, Poor Man," which became one of the first TV mini-series back around 1976 or 1977. It was the series that gave Nick Nolte his first break. Along with John O'Hara and John Cheever, Irwin Shaw is one of America's greatest story tellers. The stories in this volume deserve to be put back into circulation!
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Terrific 15 Oct 2008
By Cosmoetica - Published on Amazon.com
In reading Irwin Shaw's Five Decades, a huge book of sixty-three of his best tales, in 756 pages of small type, written between the Great Depression years and his death, the only thing that an impartial reader can come away with is Shaw's consistent excellence in the field. Although having gotten his start, and made his name in the pages of The New Yorker magazine, I can tell you his tales hold up better socially and artistically than far more lauded New Yorker writers like O'Hara, J.D. Salinger, John Cheever, Alice Adams, John Updike, or Ann Beattie. The earliest tales, especially, with only the omission of a few definitive words that reference their era, could have been written yesterday, and are almost as minimalist as they are realist. And there is little fat in Shaw's tales- they are lean with the rat-a-tat-tat staccato of their sentence's construction, and their poetry comes not from a strained contrivance of clichés, but the juxtaposition (often jarring) of the most common of things, phrases, and moments. Even though most of the stories, especially the early ones, are set in a New York City milieu, and reflect the accents and slang thereof, Shaw powerfully captures the realistic dialogue of the masses like few other writers ever have- perhaps, of published short story writers I've read, only Russia's Anton Chekhov comes close, and even he tended to lean a bit more on allegory rather than the offhanded poesy that comes in real spoken dialogue, and can best be pared down by the good ear of a good writer. Not even Eugene O'Neill, at his best, could capture the American idiom as well, and perhaps only Clifford Odets did- and it's worth noting Shaw started out as a playwright....The stories are so well-wrought with the trimness of necessity, and possess a grit and realism that Ernest Hemingway could never equal, even in the best of his hit and miss tales- and are just as poetic, if not more, and certainly more consistently poetic, with the poetry of concision in the construction, not the mere phrasing. Again, look how inherently straightforward sentences like, `He couldn't remember having had a nicer day,', `Michael watched her walk, thinking, what a pretty girl, what nice legs,', and `You must be very careful in a strange city,' seem, yet how poetic they become by their mere placement. Shaw does this over and over again in these tales, which is a feat that writers like John O'Hara, or J.D. Salinger, his contemporaries, at their best, could never do with any consistency. Yes, some of his later tales are too long, but never ungodly in length, and they never become as airy as the lesser tales of many far more lauded writers in the Pantheon do. I urge any reader who wants to be entertained or enlightened, and also learn a good deal of what America in the last century was like, to seek out the short stories of Irwin Shaw. There's no better place to start than with these Five Decades to get the whole century.
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Shaw: A Consummate Craftsman 20 April 2011
By Ignatz90 - Published on Amazon.com
I have a great deal of respect for Irwin Shaw. If you've read 'Rich Man, Poor Man,' you know that he is a consummate craftsman and storyteller. His literary world is largely limited to New York City, Hollywood, and metropolitan Europe. His stock in trade is melodrama. His characters are types. His forte is popular fiction with relatively little intellectual content. But he writes very bankable fiction of the New York magazine variety (clean, crisp, world-weary, mildly nihilistic), and he was surprisingly consistent over five decades. A number of his stories appear in college anthologies. If you are a young writer interested in writing for the slicks, you would do well to study Shaw's short stories. On the other hand, if you are interested in literary quality, buy his novels 'Rich Man, Poor Man' and 'The Young Lions.'
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A True Piece of Art! 21 Feb 2001
By C. Kuschel-Toerber - Published on Amazon.com
I whole-heartedly agree with the first reviewer of this book - Irwin Shaw was one of the best (if not THE best) American storyteller(s) of the 20th century. Beautiful prose, great characters, lots of emotion - his books just seem to sparkle with life.
This wonderful collection of short stories - written between the 1930's and the 1980's - will leave you with even deeper admiration of his writing skills if all you've ever read of Mr. Shaw is "Rich Man, Poor Man" (which is an equally great novel).
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