Nebraska Center for Writers

Chimney Rock What the Critics Say
About Karen Gettert Shoemaker

NIGHT SOUNDS



Night Sounds
Copyright © 2002
by Karen Gettert Shoemaker
University of Nebraska Press
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A woman recalls the freedom and power of childhood games; a surprise anniversary party goes awry when the husband is hospitalized and the fault lines and strengths of a family are laid bare; a teacher rediscovers her calling amidst unthinkable tragedy; a lonely woman recognizes her responsibility to her sister’s troubled life—in this collection of stories the prose and passion of life are brought together in ways that show both the complexity and the simplicity of living. Told against a Midwest background, they focus mainly on women’s experiences, yet nonetheless reflect universal conditions. This is what makes Karen Gettert Shoemaker’s style so affecting and her stories so appealing. They capture those small moments in life, a passing glance or a child’s smile, the night sounds of crickets or clocks, and celebrates them, delights in their ordinariness. These stories show the importance of knowing the preciousness of this life, whatever form it takes. These are simple stories, told with a grace and elegance that belies their joyful art and craft. Karen Gettert Shoemaker has published fiction, nonfiction, and poetry in a variety of places, including Prairie Schooner and South Dakota Review. She received her M.A. and Ph.D. in Creative Writing from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, where she has taught writing and literature workshops for a number of years. She has received the Vreeland Award for Fiction and a Nebraska Press Association Award. This is her first book of short stories. — from the jacket

Shoemaker’s carefully crafted stories celebrate the magic of everyday life, and serve as a reminder that the best fiction comes not just from the imagination, but from the heart. A first-class literary debut — and a cause for celebration. — Gerald Shapiro

Karen Shoemaker is a perceptive and intelligent writer. This is an impressive and graceful debut collection — there is a purity and honesty to these beautifully written stories that is refreshing and rare. — Judy Slater

Shoemaker’s stories are an unusual mix of flip and profound, bitter and suffused with joy. The themes are universal — memory, regret, the restrictions of gender roles, the love of children, and the difficulties in knowing and connecting with other human beings. ... The fate of her characters turns on a bent smudged photo, a torn pair of jeans, or a hassle with a pharmacist over birth control pills. The writing is exquisite and earthy at the same time. ight Sounds and Other Stories is full of surprises, some of them so amazing that the reader’s breathing changes. — Mary Pipher


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