Jim Shepard

Jim Shepard

Jim Shepard is the author of six novels and two previous collections of stories. He teaches at Williams College in Williamstown, Massachusetts.

Photo © Barry Goldstein

Read our Q&A with Jim Shepard

Writers in Praise of Jim Shepard

“Shepard’s writing is lean, assured, never canned; it is sometimes cinematic and often astringently funny. He reconstructs the ordinary and offers the surreal as a given, [finding] highly original ways into the most moving stories.”—Amy Hempel

“Jim Shepard’s access to different voices, social types, levels of experience, is truly astonishing. He has observed deeply, and his selection of detail from that observation is brilliant.”—Norman Rush

“Let’s hope Shepard becomes as influential as he should be. He’s the best we’ve got.”—Dave Eggers

Like You'd Understand, Anyway

Like You'd Understand, Anyway

Winner of the 2007 Story Prize

Following his widely acclaimed Project X and Love and Hydrogen—"Here is the effect of these two books," wrote the Chicago Tribune: "A reader finishes them buzzing with awe"—Jim Shepard now gives us his first entirely new collection in more than a decade.

Like You'd Understand, Anyway reaches from Chernobyl to Bridgeport, with a host of narrators only Shepard could bring to pitch-perfect life. Among them: a middle-aged Aeschylus taking his place at Marathon, still vying for parental approval. A maddeningly indefatigable Victorian explorer hauling his expedition, whaleboat and all, through the Great Australian Desert in midsummer. The first woman in space and her cosmonaut lover, caught in the star-crossed orbits of their joint mission. Two Texas high school football players at the top of their food chain, soliciting their fathers' attention by leveling everything before them on the field. And the rational and compassionate chief executioner of Paris, whose occupation, during the height of the Terror, eats away at all he holds dear.

Brimming with irony, compassion, and withering humor, these eleven stories are at once eerily pertinent and dazzlingly exotic, and they showcase the work of a protean, prodigiously gifted writer at the height of his form. Reading Jim Shepard, according to Michael Chabon, "is like encountering our national literature in microcosm."

Praise for the Book

"To praise Shepard's mastery of voice is to undersell what these stories are doing; it isn't the voice Shepard inhabits but the world. . . . Shepard is an impressive writer, but I wasn't impressed until I finished the book: I was too busy being enthralled."—Daniel Handler (a.k.a. Lemony Snicket), The New York Times Book Review

"A macro book with a micro eye. These wildly diverse stories share a fascination with the inevitable cost of familial obligation and the inescapable fallout from disaster, both natural and human-made."—Tara Ison, Los Angeles Times Book Review

"Utterly captivating . . . Shepard's gutsy, brilliantly imagined, strongly made, fresh and propulsive stories grapple with follies minor and major, deliver us to the wilderness at the heart of the human psyche, and explode and reassemble our vision of the carnival we call civilization."—Donna Seaman, The Chicago Tribune

"What's most remarkable about these stories, in the end, is how gently Shepard wraps the most extremely foreign and obscure events around emotional dilemmas common to all of us . . . The truth is we should understand this entire menagerie of characters. Scrape away the singular, perfectly detailed lives Shepard has given them and one thing is clear: They are us."—John Freeman, The Boston Globe

"With a near spooky sense of empathy and a wit that finds its mark like lightning, the stories in Jim Shepard's Like You'd Understand, Anyway transport readers light-years beyond what they think they know of the world."—Vanity Fair

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Available in paperback
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