Cover image for Refund : stories
Title:
Refund : stories
Author:
Bender, Karen E.
Personal Author:
Uniform Title:
Short stories. Selections
Publication Information:
Berkeley, CA : Counterpoint Press, 2015.

©2014
Physical Description:
258 pages ; 22 cm
Summary:
"We think about it every day, sometimes every hour: Money. Who has it. Who doesn't. How you get it. How you don't. In Refund, Bender creates an award-winning collection of stories that deeply explore the ways in which money and the estimation of value affect the lives of her characters. The stories in Refund reflect our contemporary world-swindlers, reality show creators, desperate artists, siblings, parents - who try to answer the question: What is the real definition of worth? In "Theft, " an eighty-year-old swindler, accustomed to tricking people for their money, boards a cruise ship to see if she can find something of true value-a human connection. In "Anything for Money, " the creator of a reality show is thrown into the real world when his estranged granddaughter reenters his life in need of a new heart; and in the title story, young artist parents in downtown Manhattan escape the attack on 9/11 only to face a battle over their subletted apartment with a stranger who might have lost more than only her deposit. Set in contemporary America, these stories herald a work of singular literary merit by an important writer at the height of her power"--
Language:
English
ISBN:
9781619024557
Format :
Book

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Summary

Summary

A NATIONAL BOOK AWARD FINALIST

We think about it every day, sometimes every hour: Money. Who has it. Who doesn't. How you get it. How you don't.

In Refund , Bender creates an award-winning collection of stories that deeply explore the ways in which money and the estimation of value affect the lives of her characters. The stories in Refund reflect our contemporary world--swindlers, reality show creators, desperate artists, siblings, parents -- who try to answer the question: What is the real definition of worth?

In "Theft," an eighty-year-old swindler, accustomed to tricking people for their money, boards a cruise ship to see if she can find something of true value--a human connection. In "Anything for Money," the creator of a reality show is thrown into the real world when his estranged granddaughter reenters his life in need of a new heart; and in the title story, young artist parents in downtown Manhattan escape the attack on 9/11 only to face a battle over their subletted apartment with a stranger who might have lost more than only her deposit.

Set in contemporary America, these stories herald a work of singular literary merit by an important writer at the height of her power.


Author Notes

Karen E. Bender grew up in Los Angeles & graduated from UCLA with a B.S. in psychology & the University of Iowa with an M.F.A. She won the Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers' Award & lives in New York City.

(Bowker Author Biography)


Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Bender's (A Town of Empty Rooms, 2013) collection of stories appears to be about money, something we all need, work for, spend, misuse, even throw away. In Reunion, a woman is scammed out of money she can't afford to lose by an old high-school crush. In Anything for Money, a host of a game show on which people do crazy stunts for money finds himself doing anything he can to get his ailing daughter a heart transplant. And in the title story, a struggling couple sublet their apartment right before 9/11 and find that the woman who rented it is demanding more than just her deposit back. But Bender's stories are about more than money. She portrays people who are broken and asking themselves the same question in different ways am I worthy of being loved? Bender's tales are stark, heart wrenching, quirky, and sometimes end without closure. But they all work together, as Bender leads us to a unifying conclusion: you can't put a price on human life or love.--Kubisz, Carolyn Copyright 2015 Booklist


Publisher's Weekly Review

Money and its mysteries-how to get it, keep it, steal it, and do without it-link the stories in this collection, but so do the mysteries of having children or being one. Bender's youthful characters are imperious creatures who leave their parents bewildered, exhausted, and wrung out with love. Parenting, of course, is linked to money: only parents in the middle class-and Bender (A Town of Empty Rooms) makes it clear how tenuous that status is-notice when their children are "experimenting with disdain," even if they don't how to respond. (The poor are too busy; the rich have outsourced their child rearing.) Her characters struggle to identify the right thing to do, and wonder how to do it given dire circumstances. There are some astonishing characters in this collection-the elderly grifter in "Theft," the ailing child in "Anything for Money," and the sisters in "A Chick from My Dream Life"-but most of the stories are fairly low-key, taking up not the diagnosis but the wait for it, or the sudden anger at a neighbor's child. And though readers may sometimes crave bigger or more conclusive endings, the stories' strengths stem from Bender's beautiful writing and her ability to convey the wonder and dread of ordinary life, the things we might notice-whether with terror or with joy-if we weren't too busy worrying about paying the bills. (Jan.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.


Excerpts

Excerpts

Each Monday at eleven o'clock, Lenny Weiss performed his favorite duty as executive producer of his hit game show, Anything for Money: he selected the contestants for that week's show. He walked briskly across the stage set, the studio lights so white and glaring as to make the stage resemble the surface of the moon. In his silk navy suit, the man appeared to be a lone figure on the set, for his staff knew not to speak to him or even look at him. He had become the king of syndicated game shows for his skill in finding the people who would do anything for money, people that viewers would both envy and despise. The assistants were in the holding room with the prospective contestants, telling them the rules: No one was allowed to touch Mr. Weiss. Mr. Weiss required a five-foot perimeter around his person. No one was allowed to call him by his first name. No one was to be drinking Pepsi, as the taste offended Mr. Weiss. Gold jewelry reminded him of his former wife, so anyone wearing such jewelry was advised to take it off. He stood by the door for a moment before he walked in, imagining how the losers would walk, dazed, to their cars, looking up at the arid sky. They would try to figure out what they had done wrong. They would look at their hands and wonder. Then he walked in and they screamed. Excerpted from Refund: Stories by Karen Bender All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.