Jim Shepard Named National Book Award Finalist for His Collection of Short Fiction “Like You’d Understand Anyway”
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass., October 11, 2007 – Jim Shepard was named a National Book Award 2007 finalist in fiction on October 10 for his collection of short stories “Like You’d Understand, Anyway.” Announcement was made in the Philadelphia Inquirer and The New York Times.
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass., October 2, 2007- “‘Like You’d Understand, Anyway’ serves as testament not only to Jim Shepard’s talents but also to the power of the short story itself, forged from the world with a sharp eye and a careful ear, serving no agenda but literature’s primary and oft-forgotten one: the delight of the reader,” writes Daniel Handler (a.k.a. Lemony Snicket) in the Sunday New York Times Book Review (Sept. 23).
Shepard’s new book skips the reader across time and space. From 19th-century Australian frontier to Hadrian’s Wall to the 1986 Chernobyl tragedy, each of the 11 first-person narratives in “Like You’d Understand Anyway” (Knopf, 2007) “glories in the sheer too-muchness of life — its superabundance of emotion, incident, and sensory delight.” (Kirkus)
Shepard says he chooses stories that are “usually moments in which human beings have found themselves in extraordinarily difficult, and memorable, positions that resonate with me, personally, in emotional terms. In other words, zeppelins themselves don’t get me going; it’s the position in which a zeppelin can place somebody that generates the initial impulse for a story.”
This collection is about obsessives whom one would want “to know more about,” from female Soviet cosmonauts to Nazis searching for proof of the Yeti. Shepard says of his short story “Sans Farine,” a fictional autobiography of France’s executioner during the Reign of Terror: “Now there was a family I wanted to know more about.”
He refers to the Sanson family, who provided France with seven generations of executioners. “One of those generations ended up at the center of my story,” Shepard says, “a man whose life and profession, as the book sketched them in, seemed so stunning to me that I found myself very much wanting to try to imagine it more fully.”
The testosterone-laden “Trample the Dead, Hurdle the Weak” captures the energy and pressures of high school football in a Texas town, while “Courtesy for Beginners” provides a glimpse of one of the most hellish summer camp experiences in recent history.
At their core, Shepard’s stories explore the issues of connection, familial and otherwise, and the indivisible pairings of conflicting and paradoxical emotions.
His other books include “Project X,” “Nosferatu,” “Love and Hydrogen,” and “Batting Against Castro.” His stories have been widely anthologized and included three times in the “Best American Short Stories.” He was awarded a Pushcart Prize for “Hadrian’s Wall” in 2006, the Library of Congress/Massachusetts Book Award in Fiction for “Project X” in 2005, and a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Award in 2005.
He has been a writer-in residence or distinguished visiting writer on campuses across the country. He teaches writing and film at Williams College in Williamstown, Mass. He received his B.A. from Trinity College in 1978 and his M.F.A. from Brown University in 1980.
You can meet the author on tour of a number of American cities this fall.
Old Greenwich, Conn. – Oct. 2 at Just Books at 7:30 p.m.
New York, N.Y. – Oct. 10 at 192 Books at 7 p.m.
Cambridge, Mass. – Oct. 17 at Harvard Book Store at 7 p.m.
Manchester, Vt. – Oct. 18 at Northshire Bookstore at 7 p.m.
Boston, Mass. – Oct. 23 at Brookline Booksmith at 7 p.m.
New York, N.Y. – Oct. 24 at McNally Robinson at 7 p.m.
Newberryport, Mass. – Oct. 30 at Jabberwocky Books at 7 p.m.
New York, N.Y. – Nov. 5 at Mo Pitkin’s at 7 p.m.
Portsmouth, N.H. – Nov. 7 at Riverrun Books at 7 p.m.
Shepard will also be appearing on the Panel for the Best American Short Stories 2007 on Oct. 16; at Wellesley College on Nov. 7; at the Miami Book Fair on Nov. 10 and 11; at North Carolina State University on Nov. 14; at Stanford University on February 6, and Oregon’s Marylhurst University on Feb. 7.