Deborah Eisenberg’s Vast Fictions

Minna Zallman Proctor at Bookforum:

These stories are family sagas writ short, a form Eisenberg may well have invented. The word saga generally brings to mind giant, beach-sandy paperbacks, like Gabriel García Márquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude—not short stories, not even long short stories. Stories don’t in principle have the space to unfurl lifetimes, multiple settings, formation and reverberation. Yet Eisenberg’s stories— with their telescoping time lines and surprising associative turns—expand, even in their ellipses. “Hang on,” thinks young Adam in “Recalculating,” as he considers the earth’s revolution, the chance of it spinning off its axis. “Adam clung to some bits of stubble and closed his eyes. Hang on, he thought, as the Earth gained speed and spun recklessly into the night—hang on, hang on, hang on!” Because Adam is young, his imagination is terrifyingly vivid, and life around him will spin out of control. He will find purchase on stubble in unexpected places, like the girl seeking facts in “Cross Off and Move On.” There is so much living and expression these characters (small and large) bring to the page, lest anyone forget the amplitude.

more here.