Book Reviews of What Was Mine

What Was Mine
What Was Mine
Author: Ann Beattie
ISBN-13: 9780679400776
ISBN-10: 067940077X
Publication Date: 4/30/1991
Pages: 237
Edition: 1st ed
  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.

3.5 stars, based on 4 ratings
Publisher: Random House
Book Type: Hardcover
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From Publishers Weekly
Beattie's fifth collection of stories (after the novel Picturing Will ) is good news for those readers who, though admiring of her skill at creating characters, are left cold by her unwavering, affectless narration. Collectively, the protagonists in these 12 stories represent a wide range of voices, ages, social classes. Although emotions are openly acknowledged, characters still reveal things of which they are not consciously aware. In a few of these stories Beattie's intent remains elusive; subtlety is carried to an irksome extreme, and the random accretion of details impedes coherence. But at her best, Beattie succeeds in effectively conveying epiphanies. In the moving title story, a man whose father died when he was a baby suddenly understands the true meaning of loss. With the help of her son, the divorcee in "Horatio's Trick" achieves an insight that illumines her entire life to date: "She was just sitting there, scared to death." The young husband and father in "You Know What," who has feared for years that "something bad will happen," comes to understand that a life spent in dread is a life wasted. The most impressive story, "Windy Day at the Reservoir," has beautifully nuanced and detailed character portrayal, and a textured plot full of poignant surprises.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal
Most of these 12 stories are quick studies of the lives of middle-class Americans caught in the kind of self-examination that exposes the frailties and limitations of their perceptions. In the title story, a boy gains a new and disturbing sense of his dead father's identity through the contemplation of loss. "Installation #6" is about the difference between objective and subjective reality. In it an artist has his handyman brother tape record "some thoughts you can listen to" to be played in the gallery where his construction is on display. The monolog thus becomes both a part of and a commentary on the artist's work. Next, against a sensuous Mediterranean backdrop, a woman vacationing with her husband faces the shortcomings of their relationship in "In Amalfi." This well-crafted and readable collection should appeal to fans of Beattie's other work.
- Francis Poole, Univ. of Dela ware, Newark
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc.