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Park City

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

In her short stories, Ann Beattie is the unchallenged spokesperson for the post-1960’s era of aimless and uncommitted young educated professionals. However, it is just the shiftless passivity of her characters, along with the flat dry style with which she presents them, that has brought Beattie the most criticism.

Some of her best-known stories included in PARK CITY: NEW AND SELECTED STORIES are “Weekend,” about a fifty-five-year-old college professor who tries to hold on to youth with his female students and the woman who lives with him and tolerates his “sick games;” “A Vintage Thunderbird,” about a man who cannot commit to anyone because of a fantasy desire for a woman who owns a classic Thunderbird; and “Janus,” which focuses on a woman who identifies her own emptiness with a vase she uses to lure potential real estate purchasers. New stories include a classic miniature, “Going Home with Uccello,” and the long title story about a typical Beattie female caring for children not her own, who learns something about life from a precocious fourteen-year-old and a fragile three-year-old.

In the more than twenty-five years that Beattie has been publishing short stories, mostly in THE NEW YORKER, her characters have remained much the same and her technique has changed little. But no matter. In spite of the fact that she has published six novels, as these stories amply show, it is as a short-story writer that she will remain an influential voice in modern American literature.

Sources for Further Study

Library Journal. CXXIII, May 1, 1998, p. 141.

Los Angeles Times. June 19, 1998, p. E8.

The New York Review of Books. XLV, November 5, 1998, p. 23.

The New York Times Book Review. CIII, June 28, 1998, p. 15.

Publishers Weekly. CCXLV, April 6, 1998, p. 55.

The Washington Post Book World. XXVIII, June 21, 1998, p. 5.

The Yale Review. LXXXVI, July, 1998, p. 150.