When "Reasons to Live, " Hempel's first collection, was published in 1985, readers encountered a pitch-perfect voice in fiction and an unsettling assessment of the culture. That collection includes "San Francisco," which Alan Cheuse in "The Chicago Tribune" called "arguably the finest short story composed by any living writer." In "At the Gates of the Animal Kingdom, " her second collection, frequently compared to the work of Raymond Carver, Hempel refined and developed her unique grace and style and her unerring instinct for the moment that defines a character. Also included here, in their entirety, are the collections "Tumble Home" and "The Dog of the Marriage." As Rick Moody says of the title novella in Tumble Home, "the leap in mastery, in seriousness, and sheer literary purpose was inspiring to behold.... And yet," he continues, ""The Dog of the Marriage, " the fourth collection, is even better than the other three...a triumph, in fact." "The Collected Stories of Amy Hempel" is the perfect opportunity for readers of contemporary American fiction to catch up to one of its masters. Moody's passionate and illuminating introduction celebrates both the appeal and the importance of Hempel's work.