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You Think That’s Bad by Jim Shepard

The characters in You Think That’s Bad  are pushed to the limit by an author who, says Michael Schaub in NPR.org, is “one of the most perceptive, intelligent, and fearless writers” working today.

(Knopf, $25)

Jim Shepard’s fiction “isn’t known enough,” said David L. Ulin in the Los Angeles Times. Shepard’s novels and short-story collections, such as the National Book Award finalist Like You’d Understand, Anyway, have always been “too out there, too plain unclassifiable” to gain him the following he deserves. In the 11 stories of You Think That’s Bad, Shepard tightens his focus, giving us characters who are each “at the end of their ropes.” In “The Netherlands Lives With Water,” a Dutch engineer faces a catastrophic flood caused by climate change. In “Track of the Assassins,” a female British explorer of the 1930s pursues legendary Persian assassin Hassan Sabbah. Each story pushes its narrator “right up to the point of obliteration, leaving us exhilarated and despairing at once.” Shepard is “one of the most perceptive, intelligent, and fearless writers” working today, said Michael Schaub in NPR.org. Every one of these stories is a bracing reminder that “there are no small tragedies.” Not one of the tales “is less than perfect.”

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