Bad Characters: Stories

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This book displays at their height the wit, sensibility and psychological penetration that distinguish Miss Stafford's work. There are nine stories and a novella. They range in mood from the title story, a comic portrait of a resourceful child-criminal named Lottie Jump, to "The End of a Career," an elegiac and ironic tale of the declining years of a great beauty. In "A Reasonable Facsimile" Dr. Bohrmann, a retired professor philosophy, is unexpectedly rescued from an aggressively boring young house guest. "Cops and Robbers" is a chilling story of childhood horror and lovelessness that revolves around a father's trip to the barber with his five-year-old daughter.

Several of the stories have as their common setting Miss Stafford's fiction town of Adams, Colorado—including an amusing saga of a girl's frustrated attempts to find a quiet spot to read ("A Reading Problem"), and two stories of failure ("In the Zoo") and success ("The Liberation") in the effort to escape from one's family. "Caveat Emptor" is a satire on the academic life and sub-life at the Alma Hettrick College for Girls; and in "The Captain's Gift" the sheltered and lavender-scented existence of old Mrs. Ramsey is violated by the reality of war.

The major piece in Bad Characters is "A Winter's Tale," a haunting and evocative novella set in Heidelberg just before the outbreak of the war. It is dominated by the diabolic character of Frau Professor Persis Galt. This portrait of a former Bostonian who poses as an excessively devout convert is one of Miss Stafford's most brilliant fictional creations.

This collection by Jean Stafford will be warmly welcomed by the many and devoted admirers of her novels and stories. To new readers the work of one of the best writers of our time will come as a joyful discovery.

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About the author

Jean Stafford is the author of Boston Adventure, which earned her early and well-deserved acclaim. It was followed by The Mountain Lion and The Catherine Wheel and by her collection of stories, Children Are Bored on Sunday. Born in California and raised in Colorado, she did graduate work in medieval studies and philology at Heidelberg and later taught in this country. In private life she was Mrs. A. J. Liebling. She also wrote books for children, including Elephi, the Cat with a High I. Q.
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Additional Information

Farrar, Straus and Giroux
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Published on
Apr 4, 2017
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Fiction / Literary
Fiction / Short Stories (single author)
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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"Probably the best young prose writer in the U.S.," as Time oncecalled her, Jean Stafford made a selection of her favorite among the stories she published in The New Yorker and elsewhere since 1944. Children Are Bored on Sunday displays at its height the mordant wit and sensibility which has distinguished Miss Stafford's work since her first successful novel, Boston Adventure, appeared in 1944.

The stories in this book vary in mood from the title piece, a satirical examination of avant-garde intellectual life in New York through the eyes of a self-styled "rube," to the quietly affecting novella "The Home Front," about a German doctor in an American defense plant town. The backgrounds of the stories are equally varied: one is set in the Virgin Islands, two in Germany, one in Oklahoma and one in Maine, and one - "The Interior Castle" - in the featureless ether-smelling world of a hospital where the heroine is recovering after a near-fatal accident. The central figure of one story is a fat girl who imagines herself to be twins and who cannot stop eating; in another we meet Jim Littlefield, an orphan Indian boy of 8, who has "come on the train barefoot all the way from Missouri." In "The Bleeding Heart" appears an invalid old lady whose speech has lost its verbs ("I her!" she cries), while her parrot, aged 48, has lost all speech, but the eternally reiterated, "Just a minute."

The versatile forms of these stories - ranging from satire to interior monologues, from pathos to grotesquerie - are carried out in a style so consistently controlled, so full of imaginative power and so alive to nuance both verbal and pictorial, that the collection takes on a compelliing unity in its very diversity, and will add to the already impressive reputation Miss Stafford's three novels have won her

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • Taking place nearly a century before the events of A Game of Thrones, A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms compiles the first three official prequel novellas to George R. R. Martin’s ongoing masterwork, A Song of Ice and Fire.
These never-before-collected adventures recount an age when the Targaryen line still holds the Iron Throne, and the memory of the last dragon has not yet passed from living consciousness. Before Tyrion Lannister and Podrick Payne, there was Dunk and Egg. A young, naïve but ultimately courageous hedge knight, Ser Duncan the Tall towers above his rivals—in stature if not experience. Tagging along is his diminutive squire, a boy called Egg—whose true name is hidden from all he and Dunk encounter. Though more improbable heroes may not be found in all of Westeros, great destinies lay ahead for these two . . . as do powerful foes, royal intrigue, and outrageous exploits.
Featuring more than 160 all-new illustrations by Gary Gianni, A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms is a must-have collection that proves chivalry isn’t dead—yet.

Praise for A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms

“Readers who already love Martin and his ability to bring visceral human drama out of any story will be thrilled to find this trilogy brought together and injected with extra life.”—Booklist

“The real reason to check out this collection is that it’s simply great storytelling. Martin crafts a living, breathing world in a way few authors can. . . . [Gianni’s illustrations] really bring the events of the novellas to life in beautiful fashion.”—Tech Times

“Stirring . . . As Tolkien has his Silmarillion, so [George R. R.] Martin has this trilogy of foundational tales. They succeed on their own, but in addition, they succeed in making fans want more.”—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“Pure fantasy adventure, with two of the most likable protagonists George R. R. Martin has ever penned.”—Bustle

“A must-read for Martin’s legion of fans . . . a rousing prelude to [his] bestselling Song of Ice and Fire saga . . . rich in human drama and the colorful worldbuilding that distinguishes other books in the series.”—Publishers Weekly
An all-new Dresden Files story headlines this urban fantasy short story collection starring the Windy City’s favorite wizard.

The world of Harry Dresden, Chicago’s only professional wizard, is rife with intrigue—and creatures of all supernatural stripes. And you’ll make their intimate acquaintance as Harry delves into the dark side of truth, justice, and the American way in this must-have short story collection.

From the Wild West to the bleachers at Wrigley Field, humans, zombies, incubi, and even fey royalty appear, ready to blur the line between friend and foe. In the never-before-published “Zoo Day,” Harry treads new ground as a dad, while fan-favorite characters Molly Carpenter, his onetime apprentice, White Council Warden Anastasia Luccio, and even Bigfoot stalk through the pages of more classic tales.

With twelve stories in all, Brief Cases offers both longtime fans and first-time readers tantalizing glimpses into Harry’s funny, gritty, and unforgettable realm, whetting their appetites for more to come from the wizard with a heart of gold.

The collection includes:

  •  “Curses,” from Naked City, edited by Ellen Datlow
  •  “AAAA Wizardry,” from the Dresden Files RPG
  •  “Even Hand,” from Dark and Stormy Knights, edited by P. N. Elrod
  •  “B is for Bigfoot,” from Under My Hat: Tales from the Cauldron, edited by Jonathan Strahan. Republished in Working for Bigfoot.
  •  “I was a Teenage Bigfoot,” from Blood Lite III: Aftertaste, edited by Kevin J. Anderson. Republished in Working for Bigfoot.
  •  “Bigfoot on Campus,” from Hex Appeal, edited by P. N. Elrod. Republished in Working for Bigfoot.
  •  “Bombshells,” from Dangerous Women, edited by George R. R. Martin and Gardner Dozois
  •  “Jury Duty,” from Unbound, edited by Shawn Speakman
  •  “Cold Case,” from Shadowed Souls, edited by Jim Butcher and Kerrie Hughes
  •  “Day One,” from Unfettered II, edited by Shawn Speakman
  •  “A Fistful of Warlocks,” from Straight Outta Tombstone, edited by David Boop
  •  “Zoo Day,” a brand-new novella, original to this collection
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