Summary and book reviews of A Perfect Stranger by Roxana Robinson

A Perfect Stranger

And other stories

By Roxana Robinson

A Perfect Stranger
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  • Hardcover: Apr 2005,
    256 pages.
    Paperback: Mar 2006,
    256 pages.

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Book Summary

In Roxana Robinson's lucid and elegant prose, her characters' inner worlds open up to us, revealing private emotional cores that are familiar in their needs, their secrets, and their longings. These people tell us the truth–not only about themselves, their relationships, and their lives, but about ourselves as well.

In "Family Christmas," a young girl takes a holiday trip to her grandparents', where the formal atmosphere is shattered by a mysterious and chaotic event that she knows she's too young to understand but struggles to comprehend.

In "Blind Man," a college professor copes with the onslaught of grief after his daughter's death. In "The Face Lift," two college friends renew their bond across a great cultural divide. The sad and hilarious "Assistance" flawlessly details the tragicomic aspects of ageing–seen through the eyes of a daughter-turned-caretaker. The terrors of illness are explored in "The Treatment," and in "Assez," a trip to Provence reveals the true volatility of love–and reminds us that we often don't realize that what we have is enough until it's gone.

A Perfect Stranger powerfully and affectingly examines the complex, intricate network of experiences that binds us to one another. These stories are tender, raw, lovely, and fine - and they reaffirm Roxana Robinson's place at the forefront of modern literature.

Family Christmas

At Christmas, we went to my grandparents'.

My grandparents lived outside New York in a private park, a strange nineteenth-century hybrid between a club and a housing development. The Park was enclosed by a thick stone wall, and at the entrance was a pair of stone gateposts, and a gatehouse. As we approached the gate, a man appeared in the doorway of the gatehouse, sternly watching our car. Our father, who knew the gatekeeper, would roll down his window and say hello, or sometimes he would just smile and wave, cocking his hand casually backward and forward. The gatekeeper would recognize my father then and nod, dropping his chin slowly, deeply, in confirmation of an unspoken agreement, and we would drive through the gates into the Park.

One year there was a gatekeeper who did not know my father. The new man ...

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Reviews

BookBrowse

Short stories are often overlooked in favor of novels, but why when they're just the thing for so many occasions? Short stories are just the right length for the bath, subway ride or just those few minutes of downtime that we all need; they also make great "beach reads" because it's easy to close the book every few dozen pages and actually notice you're on the beach!   (Reviewed by BookBrowse Review Team).

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Media Reviews
Author Blurb Alice Munro
Start in on any sentence, and I'm absolutely sure you'll read to the end of the story, and of the book, and you'll come out of it feeling grateful, deeply stirred, seriously happy.

Author Blurb Joyce Carol Oates
Roxana Robinson's beautifully rendered prose captures moments of domestic drama - sometimes painful, sometimes ecstatic, always heartrending and illuminating.

Booklist - Annie Tully

If there is one flaw here, it's Robinson's determination to draw neat parallels or contrasts, often with a lesson learned in the final paragraphs of a story. But despite a few heavy-handed metaphors, this is a lucid and resounding collection rich in memorable human relationships.

Kirkus Reviews

Thirteen splendid stories in an elegant third collection from Robinson range widely to give us a peek into the obsessions and troubles of the well-versed and well-off......Stories that tick away with the precision of perfectly wrought timepieces.

Publishers Weekly

Robinson's third collection proves her a master of the short story - [her] ear is wonderful, her graceful prose a real pleasure.

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Beyond the Book

Roxana Robinson is the author of two novels, Sweetwater and This Is My Daughter; a biography of Georgia O'Keeffe; and two previous short-story collections, A Glimpse of Scarlet and Asking for Love. Most, if not all, of her works have been named Notable Books of the Year by The New York Times. She has received fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the MacDowell Colony. Her fiction has appeared in Best American Short Stories, The Atlantic, The New Yorker, Harper's, Daedalus, and Vogue. She lives in New York City ...

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