Funny Once

Funny Once Michael Chabon once said I scan the tables of contents of magazines looking for Antonya Nelson s name hoping that she has decided to bless us again And now she has blessed us again with a bounty o

  • Title: Funny Once
  • Author: Antonya Nelson
  • ISBN: 9781620408612
  • Page: 212
  • Format: Hardcover
  • Michael Chabon once said, I scan the tables of contents of magazines, looking for Antonya Nelson s name, hoping that she has decided to bless us again And now she has blessed us again, with a bounty of the stories for which she is so beloved Her stories are clear eyed, hard edged, beautifully formed In the title story, Funny Once, a couple held together by bad behavMichael Chabon once said, I scan the tables of contents of magazines, looking for Antonya Nelson s name, hoping that she has decided to bless us again And now she has blessed us again, with a bounty of the stories for which she is so beloved Her stories are clear eyed, hard edged, beautifully formed In the title story, Funny Once, a couple held together by bad behavior fall into a lie with their responsible friends In The Village, a woman visits her father at a nursing home, recalling his equanimity at her teenage misdeeds and gaining a new understanding of his own past indiscretions In another, when a troubled girl in the neighborhood goes missing, a mother worries increasingly about her teenage son s relationship with a bad news girlfriend In the novella Three Wishes, siblings muddle through in the aftermath of their elder brother s too early departure from the world.The landscape of this book is the wide open spaces of Kansas, Texas, New Mexico, and Colorado Throughout, there is the pervasive desire to drink to forget, to have sex with the wrong people, to hit the road and figure out later where to stop for the night These characters are aging, regretting actions both taken and not, inhabiting their extended adolescences as best they can And in Funny Once, their flawed humanity is made beautiful, perfectly observed by one of America s best short story writers.

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    About "Antonya Nelson"

    1. Antonya Nelson

      Antonya Nelson is the author of nine books of fiction, including Nothing Right and the novels Talking in Bed, Nobody s Girl, and Living to Tell Nelson s work has appeared in the New Yorker, Esquire, Harper s, Redbook, and many other magazines, as well as in anthologies such as Prize Stories The O Henry Awards and The Best American Short Stories She has received a Guggenheim Fellowship, an NEA Grant, the Rea Award for the Short Story, and, recently, the United States Artists Simon Fellowship She is married to the writer Robert Boswell and lives in New Mexico, Colorado, and Texas, where she holds the Cullen Chair in Creative Writing at the University of Houston.


    1. seriously??? will mine be the first review of this on ?? that is a lot of pressure. here's a funny confession: for some reason, i didn't clock that this was a book of short stories, even though antonya nelson pretty much writes short stories exclusively, and when i got to the second piece in the collection, i was trying to wrap my head around "and who are these characters and how do they relate to the characters in the first chapter?"silly gooseso silly of me is that i thought i had read many of [...]

    2. It’s hard to summarize Nelson’s themes without sounding trite, because these are the same elements one encounters in most modern American fiction: adultery, divorce, failure, grief, second chances. Yet she treats these in a wonderfully matter-of-fact, sardonic way. Nelson is preoccupied with significant age gaps in marriage, and incessantly wonders about the unexpected effects people can have on each other – especially what legacy one’s children will inherit. I also noted that her first [...]

    3. 3.5 The first thing that stuck me about all these stories is that they all could be true. The characters in each story either is looking toward the past, trying to relive their past or desperately trying to hold on to the people they had been. The characters have such an air od desperation, many seem stuck, unable to move beyond a set point.One that I liked very much was "The Visage" a very poignant story between a father and daughter. It was, however, the novella, "Three Wishes" that had specia [...]

    4. I love Antonya Nelson's writing. The Last two completely blew me away. These stories were longer; long enough to let me stay with the characters long enough to feel I knew them.Another favorite is Winter in Yalta: Here's a great line: "Without children, without spouse, here was where Rochelle's love was poured (into her rescue dogsis one named Sylvia Plath)--becasue love had volume, and needed a container, a way not to be wasted. And this one, from "Chapter 2":"Maybe you can tell me why I've cho [...]

    5. Short stories are often some of the best books because you really get right to the point. Some writers are really good at writing short stories because they know how to give the characters depth at the same time they are bringing the story to a peak. Funny Once was a little misleading to me, mainly because it really is not funny, not even once. There is a lot of time building up to a story, fleshing out characters, giving backstories, and then it is over. I kept thinking there was a punch line t [...]

    6. “Funny Once”, by Antonya Nelson, is nine good short stories and a FABULOUS novella. I would give this book 10 stars if I could, because of that last novella called “Three Wishes”. But I’ll get to that in a minute (it’s the last story of the book).I was so happy to start reading Antonya Nelson’s new short story collection to find the first story set in Houston! I’ve long been a fan of Nelson’s work and believe she is a premier short story writer, so I’ve long hoped that she wo [...]

    7. I've loved many of Nelson's short stories and I waited for this collection with great anticipation. I wasn't disappointed. The characters are quirky and alive, the situations fresh, honest and real. The language, lovely. Such sharp work.There is much discussion in literary fiction on the "stick", if you will, of the landing. The conclusion of a story. How firm does it have to be? How solid and set in stone? Can a story be open-ended? And that was something that came up into my mind time and time [...]

    8. I usually love Antonya Nelson's books, and this one is no exception. She writes -- she wonderfully writes -- incisive portraits of families, focused on women who are wives and mothers, friends and neighbors. Her stories are so intimate: They crawl right into people's lives, into the feelings that people wouldn't want to admit to having, the second-guessing, the jealousies, the uncertainties. And those feelings reach beyond the middle-class white women at the heart of Nelson's work. Plus, her wri [...]

    9. By the numbers:1) Drinking2) Divorced/lonely3) Old ppl4) old ppl drinking while lonely6) old ppl drinking while divorced7) Sad, but not particularly concerned with making the reader feel sad8) Not particularly concerned with making the reader feel anything, apparently9) "I didn't start writing short fiction because I wanted to RESOLVE things" 10) Ineffable ephemerality of meaning/human existence or maybe the author just didn't want to be pinned down standing for something(???)It's not like this [...]

    10. Review forthcoming in Bust Magazine. BUT. With Alice Munro enjoying her well-deserved retirement, I'm ready to hand Antonya Nelson her crown. No duds here. Her seventh collection, and maybe her best.

    11. I'm not a big reader of short stories. In the past when I read a collection of short stories by the same author all at once, I found myself getting fatigued by book's end by the writer's schtick -- e.g. the sentimentality of O. Henry stories, or the repetitious police procedural aspects in Ian Rankin's collection of shorts about his Scottish detective protagonist, John Rebus.This, however, was satisfying. Nelson has collected in this volume a variety of short stories that reveal human (i.e Ameri [...]

    12. Published: Dallas Morning News, 13 June 2014 06:09 PM“If you took all the lessons of others, you might never do anything,” Antonya Nelson writes in her seventh short-story collection, Funny Once.The characters in Nelson’s fiction have never been concerned with learning from other people’s mistakes, let alone their own. It’s not as if they aren’t trying to improve — the collection’s title comes from a story about a character named Phoebe, who gives up drinking after her husband ac [...]

    13. A great collection of short stories by Antonya Nelson. My favorites: "First Husband" is one of the best short stories I've read in years. The narrator, Lovey, is awoken in the middle night by her current husband; her ex stepdaughter Bernadette has called to say she has an emergency and needs Lovey to babysit her three kids, one of whom is still nursing. Lovey had no children of her own and her ex husband left the area at the time he left the marriage. Lovey takes care of the three and small deta [...]

    14. This collection consists of nine stories and a novella (in my opinion). If it's over 100 pages, I don't consider it a short story. Similar to my reaction to The Other Language by Francesca Marciano, I almost gave up on this one after a couple of stories. But they grew on me because of the exact characterization, genuine surprises, and great writing. When I finish a short story collection, I reflect on the stories before sharing my comments here. Some stories stay with me. Some stories I recall e [...]

    15. Antonya Nelson is an award-winning writer of three novels and four short story collections. Funny Once, like her other collections, deals with life's tragic misfits - people who are victims of the poor choices they made or those they never made at all.The book gets its name from the title story, "Funny Once." In it, one of the hosts of a dinner party remarks that most of life's events are "only funny once." This phrase becomes the central theme of the book and refers to those embarrassing, often [...]

    16. I looked forward to reading this collection of short stories but, ultimately, was disappointed with it. The stories deal with connections, intimacies and families that fall short. There is a lot of drinking going on and much of the connection is alcohol infused. People live together but the mode of being is disconnected.The collection is peopled with shallow characters. In 'Winter in Yalta', Cara, already in her third marriage is thinking of leaving her husband. She is already on an internet sit [...]

    17. I received my copy of Funny Once from NetGalley in exchange for review.It can be hard for me to find the right way to talk about short story collections - there are few things that I love better about a well written short story, but words always seem to escape me when I try to describe what makes a story work for me. In Funny Once, Nelson traverses a wide range of human experience - aging, infidelity, death. Rarely things that are found to be "funny," but the precision of her language and the ca [...]

    18. Short story collection about: mid-life; adult (?) children; caring for an elderly father that includes duct-taping him into a truck bed; alcoholism (Funny Once); and an aging trophy wife who reconnects with a pot smoking former boyfriend in his treehouse (Soldiers Joy).Written with such tender wisdom and humor, I had to resist the urge not to tie it up with a bow and offer it to all my friends for Christmas. "Because love has volume, and needs a container, a way not to be wasted" (Winter in Yalt [...]

    19. I could tell Nelson is a talented writer; there's a lot that works well and some beautifully crafted passages. However, pretty much every story had the same themes of second marriages, alcoholism, age gaps in relationships, and characters pondering the distance between themselves and someone close to them. I guess if I'd gone in expecting that, it would have made a difference (instead of finding it almost repetitive). The stories also feel very similar tonally, pacing-wise, and in the lack of re [...]

    20. Funny Once, Antonya Nelson's seventh collection of short stories, showcases Nelson's reliable skill in portraying couples and families in all manner of function and disfunction. An ex-stepdaughter relies on her former stepmother for childcare and indulgence in “First Husband.” A woman in AA avoids self-reflection by sharing elaborate stories about an eccentric neighbor in “Chapter Two.” In the title story, “Funny Once,” a woman lies to her close friends about having cancer, to the ho [...]

    21. In Antonya Nelson’s collection, Funny Once, each story presents its own mesmerizing world. Each piece is strengthened by its characters, who are portrayed as very real, genuine people. Nelson’s characters often struggle with flaws and mistakes they’ve made in the past. Their issues are grounded in reality—dilemmas surround family life, addiction, infidelity, and death. The imperfections of the characters only entice the reader to root for them, to hope they come out victorious in the end [...]

    22. Make no mistakes about it there is nothing funny about the content of this book. These short stories are adult in nature--ranging from drinking to adultery. Obviously, the author is partial to one short story entitled "Funny Once". This is a quirky story about a couple who seem to have run the course in their relationship. The story is written in a way to make the reader aware that the girlfriend is a real "pain in the neck", but it looks as though her boyfriend is okay and hanging on. As the st [...]

    23. Pretty run-of-the-mill, solid stories. A lot of them suffer from a lack of focus—there are multiple storylines going on with multiple characters in each story, and I couldn't quite put my finger on whose story it really was. Which would be fine in a novel! Nice settings, though, and places I'm familiar with: Texas, Kansas, Colorado. I'm not a huge fan of the dark-but-quirky brand of fiction so prevalent these days. I want commitment to the mood. But Nelson's stories are interesting, funny, and [...]

    24. Antonya Nelson is the writer I love to hate--I have read almost everything she's published in book form; I go to see her read at Tin House; I will keep reading her stuff. But this one was terrible--the things I hate about her stories are often outweighed by the grace of her prose and her ability to develop characters and relationships from unusual angles, but in this one she recycles too many of her previous stories and characters, and my main takeaway from the collection is "Thin White Women Ha [...]

    25. Nearly all of the stories in this collection have something in common: they're about a woman close to or just past the end of a relationship, usually who had cheated or been cheated on, and usually who has a drinking and/or drug problem. Nelson never fails at creating likable but flawed characters, and her prose is as beautiful as ever, but this is familiar territory for her work. I don't feel like these stories break any new ground. There's a lot of internal conflict and not much outward action [...]

    26. These are really good stories. I especially liked the long, last one, with Hugh and his sisters Holly and Hannah, who bring their father to the nursing home duct-taped to his recliner in the bed of Hugh's truck; and Holly's son Nigel, and the big grin on his face when he sees his father (whom he never met) walking up to the house. But even stories I didn't entirely love had great moments. I may be misquoting, but I loved the part where Hil is remarking on her obese, overeating roommate's keeping [...]

    27. All of these stories are about how loss changes us – whether it is the death of a sibling or wife, divorce, ex-lovers, or grown children who move far away. Nelson’s characters are fully drawn and interesting. Their lives are messy, and often in flux, and what they want is not always good for them. There are some great moments: a senile father duck taped to his favorite chair as he is carted in the back of a pick-up to a home, the woman with no hair because she and her husband drank too much [...]

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