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Your Duck Is My Duck
Cover of Your Duck Is My Duck
Your Duck Is My Duck
Stories

A much-anticipated collection of brilliantly observant short stories from one of the great American masters of the form, performed by a remarkable cast: Deborah Eisenberg, Julianne Moore, Josh Hamilton, and Wallace Shawn.

At times raucously hilarious, at times charming and delightful, at times as solemn and mysterious as a pond at midnight, Deborah Eisenberg's stories gently compel us to confront the most disturbing truths about ourselves—from our intimate lives as lovers, parents, and children, to our equally troubling roles as citizens on a violent, terrifying planet.

Each of the six stories in Your Duck is My Duck, her first collection since 2006, has the heft and complexity of a novel. With her own inexorable but utterly unpredictable logic and her almost uncanny ability to conjure the strange states of mind and emotion that constitute our daily consciousness, Eisenberg pulls us as if by gossamer threads through her characters—a tormented woman whose face determines her destiny; a group of film actors shocked to read a book about their past; a privileged young man who unexpectedly falls into a love affair with a human rights worker caught up in an all-consuming quest that he doesn't understand.

In Eisenberg's world, the forces of money, sex, and power cannot be escaped, and the force of history, whether confronted or denied, cannot be evaded. No one writes better about time, tragedy and grief, and the indifferent but beautiful universe around us.

A much-anticipated collection of brilliantly observant short stories from one of the great American masters of the form, performed by a remarkable cast: Deborah Eisenberg, Julianne Moore, Josh Hamilton, and Wallace Shawn.

At times raucously hilarious, at times charming and delightful, at times as solemn and mysterious as a pond at midnight, Deborah Eisenberg's stories gently compel us to confront the most disturbing truths about ourselves—from our intimate lives as lovers, parents, and children, to our equally troubling roles as citizens on a violent, terrifying planet.

Each of the six stories in Your Duck is My Duck, her first collection since 2006, has the heft and complexity of a novel. With her own inexorable but utterly unpredictable logic and her almost uncanny ability to conjure the strange states of mind and emotion that constitute our daily consciousness, Eisenberg pulls us as if by gossamer threads through her characters—a tormented woman whose face determines her destiny; a group of film actors shocked to read a book about their past; a privileged young man who unexpectedly falls into a love affair with a human rights worker caught up in an all-consuming quest that he doesn't understand.

In Eisenberg's world, the forces of money, sex, and power cannot be escaped, and the force of history, whether confronted or denied, cannot be evaded. No one writes better about time, tragedy and grief, and the indifferent but beautiful universe around us.

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About the Author-
  • Deborah Eisenberg is a MacArthur Foundation Fellow and the recipient of honors including the 2011 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction, a Whiting Writer's Award, and a Guggenheim Fellowship. Eisenberg has published four collections of stories: Transactions in a Foreign Currency (1986), Under the 82nd Airborne (1992), All Around Atlantis (1997), and Twilight of the Superheroes (2006). Her first two story collections were republished in one volume as The Stories (So Far) of Deborah Eisenberg (1997). All four volumes were reprinted in 2010 in The Collected Stories of Deborah Eisenberg (2010). She is a professor of writing at Columbia University.

Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from July 23, 2018
    The six superlative and entertaining stories of Eisenberg’s fifth collection (after 2006’s Twilight of the Superheroes) mostly follow the wayward lives of upper-class Americans whose tragic vanities exaggerate the common human qualities that undermine all types of people. The title story follows a painter who has lost her way and finds it again in the tropical home of a volatile and exploitative wealthy couple. The amazing “Taj Mahal” introduces a cast of aging golden-era film stars who have gathered to debunk, complain about, and revel in the scathing memoir written by the grown son of the director who was once the center of their circle. The debasements and excesses of the Trump era are a frequent inspiration if not a subject—“Merge,” which bears an ironic epigraph from the current president (“I know words. I have the best words.”), is a novella-length mystery about the ne’er-do-well son of a captain of industry, who is guided in an epistolary quest by his weirdo lover. Eisenberg is funny, grim, biting, and wise, but always with a light touch and always in the service of worlds that extend far beyond the page. A virtuoso at rendering the flickering gestures by which people simultaneously hide and reveal themselves, Eisenberg is an undisputed master of the short story.

  • Library Journal

    April 15, 2018

    Though The Collected Stories of Deborah Eisenberg appeared in 2010, it's been a long wait since 2006's Twilight of the Superheroes for a new collection from MacArthur Fellow Eisenberg, master of the short form. Her characters, whether a politically aware puppeteer or a self-satisfied young man unaccountably in love with a human rights worker, find the earth shifting beneath their feet. With a 50,000-copy first printing.

    Copyright 2018 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Library Journal

    August 1, 2018

    Once again, MacArthur Fellow Eisenberg (Twilight of the Superheroes) deploys her brand of entertainingly sharp cultural insight, using fine portraiture to show life's messiness and the great gap that often looms between how things are and how we want or imagine them to be. A mother relentlessly compares her daughter favorably to a violin prodigy cousin while viciously critiquing her own sisters-in-law, the daughter's beloved aunts; even the young woman's rationalizing boyfriend must finally concede, "Your mother is mean as a mace." A group of octogenarian actors famed in their day gather to pick apart a memoir written by an esteemed director's grandson, who portrays them in a bad light--or at least not as they see themselves. The daughter of the deceased Zoe, once part of the group, recalls her mother revealing at life's end what she wished she had seen but refusing an offer of plane tickets; "Just let me lie here and yearn to see the Taj Majal." A young artist is delighted if puzzled when she's taken up by a wealthy couple who bought one of her paintings; in the end, she realizes she's just part of their drama. VERDICT Important for collections of good literature. [See Prepub Alert, 3/26/18.]

    Copyright 2018 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Kirkus

    Starred review from July 15, 2018
    A vivid mix of stories that pick up and expand on Eisenberg's (The Collected Stories of Deborah Eisenberg, 2010, etc.) signature concerns.Eisenberg is among our most interesting writers of short fiction, author of four previous collections that track the dislocation of her characters in ways both large and small. Of the six pieces in this, her first book in 12 years, five appeared in venues such as the Paris Review and the New York Review of Books; one garnered an O. Henry Award. It's not hard to understand why. Eisenberg's métier is reticence: Her characters move through a world they find bewildering, with no easy strategy to reach out and connect. In the title story, an artist finds herself at the beach home of a rich couple, in a country that could be Mexico. What looks like paradise, however, is an illusion, a landscape on the verge of chaos from overlapping cycles of drought and flooding and the excesses of the expatriate economy. "So naturally," Eisenberg writes, "local people who could leave were leaving, and a lot of the foreigners...who had places in the area were pulling up stakes, too." Place, in other words, exerts a very shallow pull. The same is true of family, which echoes here like a set of lost opportunities, more obligatory than consoling. "Merge" revolves, in part, around the son of a corrupt CEO who liberates himself from his father by forging a $10,000 check. "Cross Off and Move On" looks back at its narrator's three aunts, although, she acknowledges, "They come to mind not so often. They come to mind only as often as does my mother, whose rancor toward them, my father's sisters, imbued them with a certain luster and has linked them to her permanently." Here, we see Eisenberg's approach to narrative, which is to tell us something both incidental and important and then follow it where it goes. The stories here are long, most more than 30 pages, and they take their time in getting to the point. But that's OK; in fact, it's the whole pleasure of reading her, the assurance that there is no quick fix, no easy resolution, that things are as muddy, as complicated on the page as they are in the world. What is never muddy, though, is her writing, which is sharp and pointed and direct. "In our small city," she writes, "where darkness and cold go on and on and most things smell and taste like lint, I groan with longing."These brilliant stories invoke the desire for something other than what you've been given, which applies to us as much as to Eisenberg's characters, whose distracted desperation can't help, in the end, but reflect our own.

    COPYRIGHT(2018) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • AudioFile Magazine Four narrators bring Deborah Eisenberg's highly anticipated story collection to life, and listeners will be delighted with the variety. Eisenberg herself narrates two of the stories, and, while she doesn't have the vocal gifts of the other three narrators, her voice suits the intimate tone of the works. Julianne Moore narrates a wonderful story, "Cross Off and Move On," using her acting gifts to get in the head of the main character perfectly. Wallace Shawn's distinctive voice lends a sardonic note to the dialogue in the final story, "Recalculating." Actor and experienced narrator Josh Hamilton's simply modulated reading of two of the stories allows the listener to focus on Eisenberg's wonderful use of language. A rich listening experience will attract a wide audience. D.P.G. � AudioFile 2019, Portland, Maine
  • Booklist

    September 1, 2018
    So, you're born, and then what? How would anybody know anything about anybody? In her first book after The Collected Stories of Deborah Eisenberg (2010), Eisenberg's anxiously questioning narrators bumble through life, dangerously muddled by or porous to the absurdities of human endeavors, their skittery musings swerving between sorrow and breathtaking humor. In the ambushing title story, a bereft artist is offered refuge at a rich couple's beach estate, largesse that turns bizarrely disastrous as Eisenberg adroitly transforms the personal into the global. In the hilarious and bittersweet Taj Mahal, a man's memoir about his famous Hollywood-director grandfather stirs up a coterie of surviving actors riled by age and memory's unreliability. Generational divides lead to droll and provocative standoffs in stories of abandonment, truths withheld, dangerous quests, crimes against humanity, and glimpses of a catastrophic near-future. Summoning her aerodynamic imagination and wondrous linguistic litheness, Eisenberg leaps with acrobatic grace from the everyday to the wildly unexpected in acts of radiant and unnerving clarification. Eisenberg's incisively exhilarating fiction syncs with that of Margaret Atwood, A. M. Homes, and Lydia Millet.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2018, American Library Association.)

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