Jim Shepard Reads at Wellesley College

He reads the Netherlands Lives with Water and a new short.  Jim begins to read about 25 minutes into the video.

Oh, and here’s an interesting blog post about the story.

Advertisements

“Heartbreaking and True, and Not One is Less than Perfect.”

Jim Shepard is a professor of film and creative writing at Williams College. He has been published in Granta, McSweeney's, and The New Yorker, among other publications.

NPR has an absolutely glowing review of “You Think That’s Bad.”  Here’s an excerpt:

It’s the near future in Rotterdam, South Holland, and climate change has caused the glaciers of Africa and the Rocky Mountains to disappear. Worldwide, ice sheets have collapsed and countries have flooded to the point of being nearly uninhabitable. The narrator of “The Netherlands Lives with Water,” a hydraulic engineer, tries to save his marriage while simultaneously racing to protect his nation from a flood that could kill thousands. He’s stoic, but not optimistic: “At this point each of us understands privately that we’re operating under the banner of lost control.”

“The Netherlands” isn’t the only story about disaster and lost control in Jim Shepard’s new collection, You Think That’s Bad, though it might be the most striking one. Shepard, author of the acclaimed story collections Love and Hydrogen (2004) and Like You’d Understand, Anyway (2007), is a master not only of the short story, but also of the prose of pain, disappointment and powerlessness. Each of the 11 stories in his new book is heartbreaking and true, and not one is less than perfect.

Shepard’s evocation of catastrophes both small and large, real and fictional, is an amazing study in contrast and loss, and it’s exquisitely written.

You Think That’s Bad is perhaps more preoccupied with disaster than any of Shepard’s previous works, with the possible exception of his brilliant 2004 novel Project X, the story of a school shooting. In “Your Fate Hurtles Down at You,” a group of scientists lives on a Swiss mountain under the constant threat of avalanche. The narrator of “Boys Town,” a war veteran with posttraumatic stress disorder, makes a series of terrible decisions until he’s cornered both physically and emotionally. “Classical Scenes of Farewell,” a story of a French aristocrat who sexually abuses and murders a series of young boys, is so raw, unsparing and stark, it’s almost impossible to read in one sitting.

Some of Shepard’s disasters are writ smaller, but are no less tragic. The most accomplished story in the book, “Gojira, King of the Monsters,” follows the unhappy life of Eiji Tsuburuya, the special-effects director responsible for the Godzilla movies. Previously published as a stand-alone book by Solid Objects, under the title Master of Miniatures, “Gojira” is one of the best American short stories in years — Shepard’s evocation of catastrophes both small and large, real and fictional, is an amazing study in contrast and loss, and it’s exquisitely written.

Over the past few weeks, we’ve probably all sat in front of our computers or televisions, refreshing our browsers or changing channels every few minutes, wondering how much more bad news the world can take. Very few of us, however, can ever know how the devastation really feels. Jim Shepard’s beautiful, essential stories might not change that, but they do prove that he’s one of the most perceptive, intelligent and fearless writers of fiction in America today. What we learn from pain isn’t up to us, after all, but what we learn from Shepard is this: pain is pain, there are no small tragedies, and all disasters are unnatural.

Click here to read the full review as well as an excerpt from the collection.  Hooray for Jim!

“You Think That’s Bad” is Almost Here!

Hello Jim Shepard fans!  Apologies on my end for not being as diligent as I should be about blogging, but now I will be back with renewed enthusiasm because Jim’s book “You Think That’s Bad” will be released on March 22!  (Which is also, coincidentally, my 30th birthday,  so I am convinced that this will be a lucky year for me!)

So, in the meantime, go ahead and pre-order the book at Amazon or Powell’s or another bookstore of your choice, and check back here for more updates.

Also, please note that Jim Shepard will be doing a book tour this spring to promote his new collection.  And I can’t stress enough that along with being a great writer,  Jim Shepard is one of the FINEST readers alive today, and the chance to meet him in person is an experience not to be missed.  If you don’t believe me, check out some of the videos I’ve posted on this blog and see for yourself.  I’ll be publicizing his upcoming trips as much as possible, so please come and bring your friends, and prepare for a wonderful evening.

Your comments about his work, your experience of his work, etc. are always welcome and I will be happy to post them to this blog.  Thank you for visiting and please keep in touch.

Welcome to Shepard Town

The Rumpus has selected Jim Shepard’s upcoming collection, “You Think That’s Bad” as it February Rumpus Book Club Selection!

Here is the full post:

Coming Soon: February.   And not just February, but the February Rumpus Book Club selection, You Think That’s Bad, the new collection of short stories by Jim Shepard, which The Rumpus Book Club members will receive more than a month before the book is available for purchase.

You can join the book club here. We’re only going to be able to accept a limited number of new subscribers this month.

We’re really excited about this. So excited we might just rename The Rumpus “Shepard Town.” As in, Welcome to Shepard Town.

Click here to join the Rumpus Bookclub.

“You Think That’s Bad” Cover now on Amazon.com!

Check out the cover for “You Think That’s Bad” on Amazon.com.

Along with the cover art, here’s what we know about the book so far:

Product Description

Culling the vastness of experience—from its bizarre fringes and breathtaking pinnacles to the mediocre and desperately below average—like an expert curator, Jim Shepard populates this collection with characters at once wildly diverse and wholly fascinating.

A “black world” operative can’t tell his wife a word about his daily activities, but doesn’t resist sharing her confidences. A young Alpine researcher is smitten by the girlfriend of his dead brother, killed in an avalanche he believes he caused. An unlucky farm boy becomes the manservant of a French nobleman who’s as proud of having served with Joan of Arc as he’s aroused by slaughtering children. A free spirit tracks an ancient Shia sect, becoming the first Western woman to travel the Arabian Deserts. From the inventor of the Godzilla epics to a miserable G.I. in New Guinea, each is complicit in his or her downfall and comes to learn that, in love, knowing better is never enough.

These stories traverse centuries, continents, and social strata, yet what they depict with devastating sensitivity—all the heartbreak, alienation, intimacy, and accomplishment—is utterly universal.

About the Author
Jim Shepard is the author of six novels and three previous collections, the most recent of which, Like You’d Understand, Anyway, won the Story Prize and was a National Book Award finalist. “The Netherlands Lives with Water,” from this collection, will appear in Best American Short Stories 2010 (edited by Richard Russo). He lives with his wife and their three children in Williamstown, Massachusetts.

Can’t wait for the book to come out?  Go ahead and pre-order it!

“You Think That’s Bad” on Random House Website

Random House has released a description for Jim’s upcoming short story collection, scheduled to be released in March 2011:

Culling the vastness of experience—from its bizarre fringes and breathtaking pinnacles to the mediocre and desperately below average—like an expert curator, Jim Shepard populates this collection with characters at once wildly diverse and wholly fascinating.

A “black world” operative can’t tell his wife a word about his daily activities, but doesn’t resist sharing her confidences. A young Alpine researcher is smitten by the girlfriend of his dead brother, killed in an avalanche he believes he caused. An unlucky farm boy becomes the manservant of a French nobleman who’s as proud of having served with Joan of Arc as he’s aroused by slaughtering children. A free spirit tracks an ancient Shia sect, becoming the first Western woman to travel the Arabian Deserts. From the inventor of the Godzilla epics to a miserable G.I. in New Guinea, each is complicit in his or her downfall and comes to learn that, in love, knowing better is never enough.

These stories traverse centuries, continents, and social strata, yet what they depict with devastating sensitivity—all the heartbreak, alienation, intimacy, and accomplishment—is utterly universal.

You can pre-order Jim’s new book from the Random House site here or through Amazon.

“You Think That’s Bad” in “Most Anticipated Summer Reading 2010 and Beyond”

Here’s a great post from The Millions, an online magazine offering coverage on books, arts, and culture.  It compiles a long list of upcoming fiction from America’s finest authors, and Jim’s upcoming collection is profiled:

March 2011:
You Think That’s Bad: Stories by Jim Shepard: You Think That’s Bad will be Shepard’s fourth collection of short stories, and from the Knopf catalogue description, it sounds like it won’t disappoint; there’s a story about a farm boy who “becomes the manservant of a French nobleman who’s as proud of having served with Joan of Arc as he’s aroused by slaughtering children”–need we say more? Shepard’s previous collection, Like You’d Understand, Anyway, was nominated for the National Book Award.

The whole post is worth reading here.