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The First Paper Girl in Red Oak, Iowa: Stories [Paperback]

Elizabet Stuckey-French

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Book Description

Jun 2001
With the stories in her first collection, Elizabeth Stuckey-French establishes herself as a smart new voice in American fiction and stakes her claim to a territory somewhere on the edge of stability, where normal is not just boring but nearly impossible, and where standing out in a crowd may just cause isolation.

Her characters, mostly Midwesterners, are bizarre but endearing. A reform school graduate is placed in the care of her psychic aunt and in the servitude of a lucrative dog retrieval scheme. A mother who has accepted her son’s modest employment selling blue jeans bemoans the above-board lifestyle she discovers him leading as a wanted criminal. A rehab counselor lives vicariously through her already pregnant stepdaughter’s love affair with a drunk who spends his days in recovery and his nights in the bar.

Full of wry wit, tender sympathy, and heartland attitude, The First Paper Girl in Red Oak, Iowa is as strange, funny, and poignant as the real world it resembles.

Product details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Anchor Books (Jun 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385498969
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385498968
  • Product Dimensions: 20 x 17 x 1 cm

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.4 out of 5 stars  11 reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An interesting collection of short stories 22 Sep 2000
By CoffeeGurl - Published on Amazon.com
This is a very interesting piece of fiction. The stories in The First Paper Girl In Red Oak, Iowa are quirky, poignant, intelligent and funny. What amazes me most is the character development in the short stories. Stuckey-French is able to create wonderful and life-like characters in a brief story. My favorites are "Junior," "The First Paper Girl In Red Oak, Iowa," "Famous Poets," and "Blessings." Each story has its own brand of quirkiness and hidden message. Also, I love the backdrop of the Midwest. I have never been there -- I've always been an East Coast girl -- but the vivid descriptions made me feel as though it was my own hometown. This is a great book. I highly recommend it, especially to Midwesterners.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hometown stories 18 Feb 2001
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
I have lived all over the world and was drawn to Stuckey-French's short story collection displayed in a London book store. On the plane back to Chicago, I discovered why. Stuckey-French writes about a time and a place I actually knew. Whilst reading the first story, "Junior," I realized that she was describing the Columbian Park pool in Lafayette, the central Indiana college town where I grew up, and the pool where I was a lifeguard as a teenager. She grew up there too.
Stuckey-French tells her stories in a specific place and time, but they are universal in their truth, regardless of growing up in the Midwest or the south of France. They are stories of life, of the fierce and weird challenges that we all face, and about how "moments" can change the course of your life.
I didn't sleep a wink on that plane to O'Hare! And then I went straight to Amazon.com and bought lots of copies to ship to my girlfriends from high school.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Clever Stuckey-French 7 April 2003
By Berna - Published on Amazon.com
Bizarre "...characters who walk a thin line between reality and delusion" make The First Paper Girl in Red Oak, Iowa a lovable, funny and pleasurable read. Elizabeth Stuckey-French writes a unique book filled with witty stories and characters that delight readers. The flowing theme of Stuckey-French's novel, "...Midwesters trying to make sense of a changing world," is portrayed by these characters that find their way out of sticky, uncommon situations. The entrancing style of writing, smart and wry, pleases the reader's mind, and puts their world into an awkward yet enjoyable vibe. One can become any of Stuckey-French's personalities due to the ample amount of detail she utilizes in her stories. Detail also sparks imagery that can be seen in any reader's imagination.
The First Paper Girl in Red Oak, Iowa takes on an inspiring and whimsical tone. With novel characters that are easy to relate to, one is inspired by each of their tales. The connection between reader and character can help seek new ways of changing life for the better. This book influences an individual to escape convoluted situations by extraordinary characters. Each has an endearing path to a solution.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very short stories, but rich characters 12 Mar 2004
By Chelsey L. Bettencourt - Published on Amazon.com
The short stories in this collection are characteristic of Stuckey-French's emphasis on the relationships between people, rather than plot twists. Most of the stories were very striking but ended before the reader had a chance know enough about the characters involved. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys very short-term exposure to characters. If you tend to become wrapped up in a story and involved with the characters, try Stuckey-French's full-lenght novel "Mermaids on the Moon".
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Witty, Charming, Moving Stories 4 Dec 2003
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
This first book signals the begining of a great literary career (as demonstrated by her second book, the novel "Mermaids on the Moon"). Stuckey-French melds fascinating characters and perceptive observations with some extremely poignant situations to produce a read that had me at the brink of tears several times. I read this book on a plane, and was stunned that this book isn't making more waves (I didn't want to land). If you want funny, cutting, and moving modern fiction delivered in nice little packages - this is a great place to start.
Another reviewer here disparaged this book as self-absorbed and too strange; just keep in mind this this comes from a guy who gives Grisham's latest (and lots of other pulp-trash books for people with little imagination) rave reviews (4 stars)...
There is nothing wrong with Grisham - he is good at what he does. But to compare his formulas to the artistry of Stuckey-French is a grave error.
This world is in fact populated by people stranger and more interesting than any fiction, and Stuckey-French comes real close to capturing this - and the wonderful moments of transcendence that we all too often let slip by.
If you would rather read a writer with actual talent - and support someone other than the high-volume, faux-artist, coporate author-types like Grisham - BUY THIS BOOK.
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